The Value of Finishing Your Writing Projects

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. what does all this mean?

It seems pretty obvious.

Don't just START writing something, FINISH writing it!

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is an author, freelance writer, certified professional life coach and writing coach, speaker and workshop presenter. She has written over two dozen published books and hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines, and other publications. Subscribe to her free newsletter for writers at


Karen Cioffi said...

Suzanne, it's so true that actually finishing a writing project takes hard work. Great tips on why you should take the time and effort to just do it!

Karen Cioffi said...

Oh, just got the Children's Writers and Illustrators Market through your link! Thanks for making it so convenient to order. :)

Suzanne Lieurance said...

Hi, Karen,

Thanks for dropping by. I hope you're finishing your writing projects. Best of luck with them all!

Karen Cioffi said...

Thanks, Suzanne, finished most of them, just have the middle grade ghosting, which should be finished in a month or so, and the ongoing one.

Unknown said...

Hi Karen,

I appreciate the timely article because I've been sitting and redoing many old articles and stories that are on paper, but not on my computer. By refurbishing these articles and stories, who knows what may come of them. Some were laying around, since 1979. That was embarrassing to say. However, they won't do me any good in a paper filing cabinet. Thanks for the encouraging advice. I will plod on.

Gladys said...

You are right Suzanne, convincing my self that a manuscript is finished is when there is nothing else to say, then I know it is the end of the story. The problem I have is tying up loose ends in the last chapter.

Karen Cioffi said...

Hey, Marge, it's great that you have content you can work on!

Unknown said...

I am copying this so I can read it comfortably. Just scanning it , I knew I wanted to digest what Suzanne wrote. I have some difficulty maintaining daily focus when life interferes with my writing intentions. Nothing new for any writer, I'm sure.

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