by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach
If you’re struggling to become a published writer, there’s probably one thing separating you from your goal – a finished manuscript.
I was reading through the current edition of the Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market the other day when I came across an interview with Laura Resau, the award-winning author of seven YA (Young Adult) and middle grade books. When asked what has been the biggest key to her success, Resau said, “A lot of it has to do with actually finishing stuff. I know many extremely talented writers who, for whatever reason, don’t take that step of fully realizing their creative vision.” She went on to explain that often perfectionism, self-doubt, and external criticism hold these writers back.
The Real Reason Writers Don’t Finish Things
While I agree that perfectionism, self-doubt, and external criticism are often contributing factors to the abandonment of a particular writing project, I think there is one more important factor – writing to the finish line is just plain hard work. It usually involves sitting at a computer, or with a pad of paper, for hours, days, weeks, or even months. Many times it involves several false starts. It may also take several writing sessions before the work on any particular project starts to flow. Many writers just aren’t willing to suffer through this part of the process. If the writing doesn’t flow from the start, they move on to something else. But they usually don’t finish that project either (for the same reasons as before) and end up with a mound of unfinished manuscripts. What’s worse, these writers never improve their writing skills very much.
The Value of Finishing What You Start
If you’re one of those writers who very rarely finish a project, you need to get out of this habit. Besides publication, here some additional benefits to finishing what you start:
1. You’ll learn the complete process of writing the type of piece you’re working on.
Anyone can start writing a novel. It takes knowledge and skill to finish writing one. The same goes for a magazine article or any other type of writing.
2. You’ll have something you can polish to perfection so it will be ready for publication.
Without a complete first draft, you can’t move forward to the next stage of writing, which is the revision process.
3. You’ll feel a deep sense of completion and satisfaction you’ll never feel with an unfinished manuscript.
This feeling of completion also builds confidence. When you’ve finished a particular piece of writing – a novel or a magazine article, for example – you will now know you can write this type of thing from start to finish. You did it once, so you can do it again.
Okay...so what does all this mean?
It seems pretty obvious.
Don't just START writing something, FINISH writing it!