Now, this is something I know a lot about.
Here I am, writing this blog, trying to help other writers. but there a number of things that I still struggle with, each and every day. And one is hitting me especially hard this week, or maybe I’m just noticing it a bit more, because, I now have to answer to you, my readers.
And that is, Finishing Stuff. Or in my case, finishing a story or novel. Or well, getting beyond the first draft of a novel, or a beginning in a short story idea.
I love coming up with ideas. Freewriting, and seeing where it takes me. That’s the part I’m actually ok with. It’s the developing it into a real story which is hard.
As my favourite author says:
“How do you do it? You do it.
You finish what you write.”
—Neil Gaiman, “Advice to Authors“
And do you know what I’ve found out in my research on this in the last couple of days?
Apparently, it means, I am an ‘aspiring’ writer. That This is a common problem with aspiring writers. Now, I do take a little offence at this, since I’ve been writing for so very long, but I guess it is also true. Even though I write and write and read and read and study the craft and know a lot – if I don’t actually finish anything, it doesn’t really matter about everything else, does it?
I guess I am still an Aspiring Writer. And that I have a lot to learn. Ok, I can admit to that.
So, today, I want to walk through how we can all progress through this hurdle and start to actually finish things. Finish our story, our novel, our project, and actually become more than aspiring writers, and actual writers, who actually complete stories, ready to submit and post on our website.
So, after a long preamble, today we will look at the following topics:
- How to Start Finishing your Story via:
- Sitting your butt down and writing
- Not starting another story until the current one is finished
- Starting small and working your way up.
How to Start Finishing Your Story Through Sitting Your Butt Down and Writing:
The key here is, just friggin do it. Sit down, and finish what you start.
Just do it. That’s it.
Now, some of you may say, that’s not very helpful, Erica, so…. how about:
Do Not Start Another Story/Project/Novel/Poem etc Until the Current One is Finished
This is pretty straight forward too, but it’s brilliant advice.
Just don’t start anything new. Finish that short story you are working on before you try a new one.
Now, one of my problems is that I come up with a new story idea every time a start writing on a new prompt. If you are having the same issue as I am, I give you a solution, of sorts: Try creating or using prompts which will help your current story grow and evolve. Flesh out that character, create an action scene or conflict scene. Try writing the ending next, or the beginning or the next chapter or scene; jump around a bit more, if you like beginners and new ideas, like I do.
Make each new scene exciting for you, and it will be exciting for your readers:)
I read a great tip from a great storyteller, was it Ray Bradbury? (I can’t find the reference now, oops, sorry:/), which was to always write (he was talking about short stories here) the first rough draft in one sitting. Now, this makes sense to me, as I’ve experienced being caught up in the story, and can pump out word after word. But, if I come back to the same short story the next day, I find I’d rather start afresh:/
If you work with novels, then the way I would approach this method is, writing and finishing each scene in one sitting. Let me know if this works for you?
Start Small and Work Your Way Up
This is another piece of brilliant advice is, start with small pieces and work your way up to longer works. So start with writing short stories, maybe flash fiction of 500 words or less. Finish those. When you can do that, move on to 1000 word short stories and so on.
If you are already in the middle of a novel, perhaps try to complete each scene before moving on.
Another tip to help you finish your projects is to start some accountability. Join a Facebook writing group or an in-person writing group and let the other members know what you’re working on and your deadline. Keep them updated, and let them know when you’re finished. Remind them, that you are not starting a new story until you finish your current one, and they will (hopefully) help you on your journey, and help to keep you accountable.
Now, I hope you’ve found this article interesting and it’s helped to address the problem of how to finish a story for you:)
Please let me know if you have any questions or thoughts, or interesting ways you finish your own stories – and I will get back to you as soon as possible.