“The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” -Philip Roth.
I’m pretty sure Roth won’t mind, but I’m going to have to politely disagree with him on this one.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand the sentiment. It’s terribly easy for writers to get caught up in their Next Big Thing, the new and shiny book idea, and the never-ending project that just can’t seem to meet your goals. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by a project, to drop a manuscript and work on something else, to scrap everything you’ve written so far out of frustration and lack of inspiration. These are certainly hellish things for the writer to deal with, a path littered with discarded thoughts and half-assed attempts.
But let’s look at it another way. To me, the road to hell isn’t paved with anything. It’s just a bleak landscape of writer’s block and blank pages. At least, surrounded by works-i-progress, you’re surrounded by potential. Each one of those WIPs, with the right mindset, could easily be wrestled down and wrangled into completion. Each one of those WIPs represent a glimmer of hope, a silver lining, a stairway to heaven. To me, a road paved with works-in-progress is just the start of the journey. The trick is in finding which one of those WIPs are the exit ramp to success.
So, what do you think? What is your road to writerly hell paved with?