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
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
Look, it’s no surprise to anyone who’s
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
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
If you’ve got hundreds of ideas piled up but very few finished pieces of