On Finishing

Writers are strange people. We love spending our days dreaming up elaborate plots and lovable characters. Scenes play out in our minds like a Hollywood-quality production. We write them out and edit a little (or a lot, depending on your process), but then we’re swept away by the latest shiny new idea. That poor project is left in the trunk collecting dust, unfinished.

The most important writing advice, regardless of your goals in writing, can be boiled down to two things: 1) Hook the reader. 2) Finish. What you do surrounding those two rules depends entirely on you, but those two “rules” stand.

Why You Should Finish:

The Feeling- As with completing any project, finishing a story often comes with a feeling of accomplishment. If the arc of the story satisfies you and you are pleased with the result, finishing can give you a boost of confidence to take into the next project. Finishing when you don’t really want to can also bring a sense of relief, knowing that the project is complete and you don’t have to deal with it again if you don’t want to.

Stage Two- After you’ve finished your draft, you can move on to stage 2! What that looks like depends entirely on you. Maybe it’s self-editing and polishing for yourself. Maybe you want to send it through you critique partners. Maybe you’ll release it onto your blog, or self-publish, or pursue publication some other way. Whatever your goal is in writing, finishing allows you to take the next step.

Discipline-Buckling down to finish you story, article, paper, essay, or any other writing project after you’ve lost interest or passion is an excellent exercise in discipline that will carry over into other areas of your life. Another bonus is that it lengthens you attention span, which is also helpful for everyday life.

Why You Shouldn’t Finish:

Worldview Change- If you have a shift in opinion, conviction, or worldview while writing, that is a food reason not to finish. Put it aside, maybe work on something else, clear your mind, then come back to it. You may have to start over, you may have to rewrite, or you might just have to trunk it for good. But if the ideas or the characters still haunt you, I’d recommend finishing. You are a writer. You can find a way to finish.

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