On Beginning Again

After my last post On the Art of Finishing, I’ve been thinking a lot about beginnings, and beginning again. I wrote that I like the finality of finished things. But I’ve realized since that I also feel lost, without direction, once I’ve finished them. There’s a comfort and security in working on something that consumes all your free time and energy: you never have to wonder what to do next.

But I’ve reached that time of uncertainty, again. What to focus on, what to do? The idea of beginning a new writing project seems overwhelming, and not quite right.

I opened computer folders and found dozens of documents with half-cooked ideas and beginnings of essays I’d once begun but left unfinished. I wonder how many writers have these kinds of files, undeveloped, undone.

Sometimes, it’s easier to start afresh, with a new blank page. The idea of it is easier, anyways. But there are hidden costs. I have to think of something completely new to write about.

With picking up something I had begun before, I do have to go back and revisit what I used to think was a good idea and try to discern what actually is from what is not.

But there’s a sense of having saved something worthwhile.

I go through second-hand clothing stores, and fix things that are broken rather than unnecessarily buying something new. I don’t like waste, or throwing away something that still has potential.

If I like the finality of finished things, I also like the feeling of picking up something that’s been relegated as unworthy and giving it a second chance.

And so, I decided to pick up an old essay, and begin again.

Question: How do you begin again after you’ve finished?