Never Fear Starting Over

Bard by BlueInkAlchemist, on Flickr

As more buzz, news and rumors emerge regarding Cataclysm (including some very interesting coverage by The Escapist), a thought has occurred to me. It was only reinforced by the experience I had over the weekend into last night that will become public some time in the next 24-48 hours, to say nothing of writing “The Haunting of Pridewater” twice.

A storyteller should never be afraid of starting over.

The developers at Blizzard aren’t technically starting over. They’re revising and updating most of the original world, partially for in-game lore reasons and partially to take advantage of the advances in graphics and phasing. However, to experience this new content as something other than a max-level fully armored hero astride a flying mount, one needs to start over with a new character. This really isn’t a big deal, speaking as someone who suffers from a condition known as ‘alt-itis’, but for some it’s pretty daunting. I for one will be starting at least two new characters, and possibly one on the Alliance side of things. We’ll see.

In terms of both writing and the other thing, which I will not mention for reasons I can’t explain but involve the preservation of my sphincter, there are times when a creative endeavor doesn’t go quite as smoothly as one would like. Sometimes you know it right away, and sometimes it needs to be pointed out to you. But either way, the only responsible thing is to start over. Unless you’re writing strictly for your own pleasure, you need to write in such a way that other will be interested in your work enough to see it through to the end, and if you want to be successful, you need to transcend the interest of morbid curiosity. In other words, you want someone to check out you work for a reason other than, “Let’s see just how bad this can suck before it ends.”

Even when you have a deadline, you can always find time to start over, at least in part. Provided you’re not coming out of the gate for the first time at the last minute, there’s opportunity to review your work, pick out what works, scrap what doesn’t and begin again. It can seem like a chore, and sometimes it’s a daunting task, either due to the work’s overall length or the approaching deadline, but working through those obstacles and emerging with a product you know for a fact is better by a great factor than your previous attempt is very nearly its own reward. It’s thrilling to have that sense of completion twice, especially if you can compare what came before with what you have now.

How often have you had to start over? Have you had to do it multiple times on the same project? How much better was the end product due to the stops and starts?

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3 Comments

  1. Starting over can be the greatest boon for a project. It sucks. But it can be often necessary — and helpful in general. Fresh perspective and what-not.

    I’ve done it many times. Hated it each time. But it worked each time, too.

    — c.

  2. I totally agree with Chuck, actually. Starting over can re-energise a project utterly – to use running terms, give that burst of energy and stamina needed to cross the finish. I’m not a runner, but I am someone who has trouble ‘sticking it out’, and putting something in a tumbler, shaking it around and then starting again is one of my best and more stalwart tricks.

  3. Considering how the Project That Shall Not Be Named worked out, I have to say I endorse this “starting over” sentiment entirely.

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