by Hannah Brown, Europe Blogger jaBlog!
Artwork by Lucy Zhang
I’m guilty of it––starting a piece of writing, and then never ever finishing. I currently have three novels, one and a half novellas (one hasn’t been started yet), two short stories I might lengthen, a book of poems, and a website that I haven’t gotten around to completing yet. The only thing I ever really finish are 1,000-word stories.
But never fear! There is hope. You can finish a piece of work!
“Really?” you gasp. Yes, really. Here are seven tips (in order of what to do), to help you get there!
1. Assess current projects.
I’ve just done a quick scan of a folder on my laptop called My Works. This is where I put everything I write. I have a whopping 423 files and 92 folders. Some of these are complete, some are not. Assess the projects that are incomplete and split them into three piles:
- active: as in you’re working on them at the moment, or will do in the next few months;
- dormant,: as in you may come back to them in the future;
- dead: as in you will never go back to that story.
It may be hard to give up beloved sets of plots and characters, but once you do it, you’ll feel a lot better, and be able to start a new project you’ll love even more.
Planning your work may seem like boring extra work, but it will pay off in the end. You’ll know exactly where you’re going––all you have to do is follow the outline. This will hopefully prevent writer’s block, and keep you on track, because in the end you won’t have to be bothered to remember to tie up all the plot lines.
3. Set goals.
Goals are a lot easier to reach once you know what they are. You can do long term goals such as “I will finish this book by Christmas,” or short term goals such as “I will finish this chapter by next Tuesday.” Make sure you have a reward for finishing them too such as “I will watch a film.” Rewards make work a lot more fun and you’re far more likely to hit the goal.
4. Decide how you’ll know when you’re finished.
This may be as simple as “my manuscript will be complete,” or as complex as “my book will be published.” But knowing when you’re finished means that you can move on from that particular project, confident that it won’t just be left sitting. Also, you won’t be wishing you could do something else with it, or constantly going back to edit. Decide when you’ll be finished, and aim to meet the deadline.
5. Aim to finish one thing, and then move onto the next.
Some people like to have two projects going on at once, which is understandable. But if you can devote all your attention to one project, it will ultimately be more beneficial. Also, this method will discourage you from constantly starting projects without finishing. Obviously, if your definition of “finishing” means something along the lines of getting your book published, you might want to start something else, once you have written and edited, as it can take a while!
Working on simultaneous projects is difficult for anyone, especially if organization is not your forte. Therefore, don’t attempt to juggle too many or you’ll lose track and none of them will be up to par.
6. Don’t start something else.
You should only begin a new project, if you think your current project is dead, finished, or presently dormant. Otherwise, all your unique characters, plots, and settings will be lost with your abandoned piece of writing. In fact, one of your forsaken projects could be a potential bestseller. Besides that, the sensation of accomplishment you feel with finishing will be worth all of your hard work.
7. Write your ending first.
Okay, this is a bit of a cheat, but could be worthwhile: write the beginning of your book, then write the ending and fill in the middle. You’ll have a better sense of direction with your storyline, and all you need to do is bring your characters from point A to point B. However, there is a risk of falling into a better ending, wasting your first. Of course, the pay-off could be huge, though I’ve never personally done it.
I never go too far into the draft of a big project like a novel until I can clearly visualize my last scene. – Laura
I truly hope these tips will be helpful while you are finishing your novel or your other writing projects. If you’re still doubting your abilities, just think about your poor characters and their dismal little faces, as you close out of the document for the last time––whilst they remain in mortal danger.
Isn’t it your duty as a writer, and their creator, to at least finish? Besides, of the hardest things in the world, finishing a piece of writing is hardly among the top five. Try your hand at bungee jumping or brain surgery, both things you have to finish, or real consequences will ensue!