The Joy of Finishing Something!

9 Feb

All too many writers, once they’ve begun writing, are suddenly seduced by a NEW IDEA!!! How do I know this? Why do I have 30+ incomplete books in my desk drawer? (Well, really, they’re in my computer somewhere, but who actually cares?) And that’s not to mention the umpteen unfinished sewing/crafts projects tucked here, there and everywhere?

I don’t wish to discourage you from thinking, and plotting, etc., but—don’t let yourself be swayed from the original, either. At least – not too far! Sometimes, an idea that’s been hiding in the back of your brain somewhere, suddenly wakes up and says, ‘Hey! It’s my turn. I’ve waited long enough.’ And it begins pushing everything else out of the way in its insistence to be first! Okay. Fine. Do at least make copious notes about this idea – you don’t want to lose it. But neither do you want to continually succumb to the lure of the something new. This is hazardous—especially if you’re a very prolific thinker.

It’s very true that the more creative you are, the more creative you become. It’s like you suddenly opened up a new room in your brain, and it has to be filled with something (nature abhors a vacuum, remember?) so you begin to think of new things with which to fill it. Truly!

Nevertheless, I cannot begin to stress strongly enough the importance of finishing something. Anything! You will find yourself unbelievably empowered by having finished something all your own and unique to you, perhaps in spite of all those doubters who didn’t think you had it in you! Well. What do they know? If they had half your creativity and gumption, they’d be doing the same thing you’re doing. Don’t give it up. Don’t give up on yourself. And don’t give up your advantage, either.

You may think this new idea is the very best one you’ve ever had. And it may well be, but as long as you’ve made notes so you can go back to it later, it will only improve with time. It’s more important to continue with your current project, gathering experience and knowledge as you go. Every little seed of ‘how to do something’ is valuable to you. Don’t just scatter them around. Accumulate them and hold them close. You’ll never know when you’ll really need them.

Have you ever heard of SMART planning? I discovered  this on the web some time ago. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. For instance:

Here is a goal: I will write 10 pages by the end of this week.

This is a clearly-stated goal that, on the surface, seems to be reachable. If you know going in that your schedule will not allow you to produce this much, then simply set the goal a bit lower. Try for 8 pages. Or 6. Or maybe one page a day. It’s not a sin to aim for less and produce more! It will, however, set you back considerably if you set an unrealistically high goal that you cannot achieve. There is no time limit for you to reach any particular goals, except the ones you set for yourself. It really will not help you to set a goal that is unreachable. The most important thing is for you to be able to reach your goal, not just once—but several times over—so don’t handicap yourself before you begin!

Your sense of accomplishment when you have finished something is awesome! You will never forget it, either.

A slight word of warning. Once you have indeed finished your project, you will naturally feel a bit of letdown. Don’t be discouraged by this—it’s a natural reaction to the high achieved by your accomplishment. It’s perfectly okay to take a few days or even a week off from your now-finished activity, before setting a new goal with a new project.

Always remember how you achieved your goal. Take little steps. Organize your ideas as much as you can. (Some of us do better at this than others!) Don’t be seduced by the supposed need for ever-more reasearch! Set realistic goals for yourself, then—plunk your rump in that chair, and write!

There’s a scene in Secret Shores that absolutely grabs everyone who reads the book. (Actually, it’s Chapter Fourteen.) It’s the one that prompted my daughter to yell at me, when I got stuck before writing that chapter. I’d known before getting to that point in the writing, that there would be a shipwreck and how it would all turn out. But then, I had a spell where I just didn’t want to write. I couldn’t figure it all out. I mean, I love writing almost as much as anything else I’ve ever done. But yet, I worked at avoiding the computer and the chair in front of it.

Anyway, one night Kris called and asked how the book was going. I said I was stuck. “Where?” she asked. I replied it was chapter fourteen. She was silent for a moment or two – I swear I could hear the wheels grinding in her head, even over the phone lines.

“That’s the shipwreck, isn’t it, Ma?”

“Yup. It is.”

“So? You knew it was going to be in there. You told me that months ago. So, get upstairs and put your ass in the chair and write it!”

Well, gee, what else could I do? I went upstairs and put my ass in the chair and wrote the entire chapter. In ONE sitting. Just the way you could read it now. My editor made NO changes. Even after all these years, I cannot read it without crying. And that chapter grabs absolutely everyone who reads it in the exact same way!

I tell this story in all my writing classes, as an example of getting it done! It always draws laughs and renewed determination on the part of the students.

Of course, I’d never even have written that book were it not for Kristi. Bless her heart.

Remember – the longest journey starts with a single step. Won’t you please come back next week for the rest of that story! (How I came to write Secret Shores.) 

I’ve been meaning to add here that the SPAM filter for WordPress is VERY aggressive, and deletes almost every comment without even giving me a chance to see it first. It’s not adjustable, in any way. If you’ve written a comment that doesn’t appear anywhere, please write directly to my e-mail: which is also the place for other questions. Thanks!

Happy Writing!


4 Responses to “The Joy of Finishing Something!”

  1. redsunset123 February 9, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Great piece, and very encouraging. I will try to finish something this week! Thanks, Annie

  2. Jan Springer February 10, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Oh my gosh! I have the exact same problem. I get soooo distracted by new ideas and can’t finish the wips! Grrr!
    Thanks so much for your wonderful pointers. I will try to adhere to some of them. *grin*

    Hugs & Have a great day!

  3. Jan Springer February 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    P.S. Can I borrow your daughter? She sounds very inspirational in telling you to get your butt in the chair. LOL
    I will try to drop by next week to visit. 🙂

  4. katie February 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    as if!

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