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Let’s face it — ideas are everywhere. Most writers don’t have much trouble finding ideas (a.k.a. the blissful first stage of the work, when all is hope and potential). Even when you think you have no clue what to   write  about, you take the dog for a walk and see your neighbor doing the most absurd thing, or you hear the evening news and hear an even more absurd thing, or — more gratifying yet — you’re in the shower or stuck in traffic or slicing carrots and you’re bowled over by the all-time greatest idea  ever , one that had to be dropped down from the heavens just for you.

And in the beginning, you adore the idea. Infatuated, you ignore all its faults while you fall deeply in love with its promise. The idea can do no wrong.

But after the initial giddiness wears off, and when you realize you’re stuck with the same idea day in and day out, you see it in a new, dulled light. It starts to look shabby and ordinary. When you’re struggling to shape it into something that — on the page — accurately reflects that sparkling epiphany you had while washing your hair, you might even begin to hate the idea. And that’s when you cast your net wide for new, shinier, more capable inspirations.

I beg you to break that cycle!

I implore you to choose at least a few of the  best  ideas to move forward with. I plead with you to  write  through those understandable urges to quit and instead finish what you so happily began.

Look, it’s no surprise to anyone who’s  ever   written  anything that writing is hard work. If you care about your subject, if you want to communicate with people in a clear and effective manner, if you want to touch or move your readers, writing is a difficult task. But it’s important to your future as a writer to see at least some of your ideas through to completion, even if the end product isn’t what you hoped it would be. (And, unless you’ve got a teacher impatiently awaiting the work or you’re a freelancer who’s sold the piece before it’s written, this might take some discipline and loads of intrinsic motivation.)

Why is it important to finish what you start (at least once in a while)?

You will prove something to yourself.

Since you’re most likely your toughest critic, you’re the one you need to prove something to. Many writers abandon projects mid-way because the sub-conscious fears that their work isn’t  good  enough or that they’re not capable of finishing overwhelms and immobilizes them. When you see the idea through to a completed piece of writing, you tip the scales in your favor and start to silence those nagging self-doubts.

You will flex your discipline muscle.

The writing life requires regular doses of discipline and persistence, especially on those days when it feels like no one really cares whether you finish something or not. Making a habit of finalizing projects strengthens your ability for self-discipline and will help you be more productive overall. And accomplishment can be addictive. So if you experience the gratification of fulfilling your intention and realizing your idea once, you’re more likely to work hard to experience it again.

You can revise a draft. You can’t revise nothing.

We’ve heard it from sages like Ernest Hemingway and Anne Lamott: if you expect too much (anything, really) from your first drafts, you’re setting yourself up for big trouble. If you’re a perfectionist and you’re not finishing pieces because they all feel so yuk mid-way through, remember that first drafts are supposed to be yuk and that you’ll have plenty of time to reshape them the next time around.

You will reveal new and unexpected things about your idea.

Flannery O’Connor said, “I  write  to discover what I know.” How will you  ever  really know where that first shimmering (initially shimmering, anyway) idea would have taken you if you don’t  write  through all the confusion and discomfort? You can mull something over for days and never be as fruitful as when you mull over the same issue via the  written  word. That’s the truth.

If you’ve got hundreds of ideas piled up but very few finished pieces of  writing , start small. Turn your hand to  shorter  tasks — poems,  short  stories,  essays , or articles. Whether you send them anywhere is irrelevant.  Write  them for you first. When you get in the habit of experiencing the whole arc of productivity — idea conception to writing through to the end — graduate to longer works. And allow yourself to feel disillusioned when the initial euphoria wears off. But write through that disappointment, since you’ll grow as a writer when you do.

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