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The Long Finish

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Have you ever had a project that just seemed to drag on? Frankly, seems like all of mine do. It’s a mixture of things taking longer than you estimate (always, ALWAYS) and me dragging my feet towards the end.

I don’t know why, but it seems the end of a project – that final rearrangement into what you hope is the last draft, seems to take a lot longer than anything else. Okay, perhaps that’s not the case – it just feels like it. And, alright, I do know why. It’s because editing a project I know feels a lot safer than starting a new one.

But still, it’s a problem. I’m currently finishing a story – adding some extra bits to flesh out certain aspects. After that, I’ll put it all together in the right order and go through for a final cutting/correction session.

Amber traffic light

Will it be STOP or GO? Image courtesy of R/DV/RS on Flickr.

But it feels difficult, and so I catch myself time-wasting. I’ll daydream, or read over what I’ve done to get myself in the mood, or as if I’m mulling over my next move. That’s all crap though. I only write within small windows of time, and what’s actually going on is I’m wasting just enough of it to convince myself to stop. Oh, look at the time, I’ll think. There’s no way I can possibly get enough done now. I’ll just read a book. Reading is a GOOD THING for a writer to do.

Know what else is good for a writer to do? WRITE! And bloody finish something once in a while!

So I’m wondering who has a similar problem and what they do to get around it. Oh, and look! I’ve made a list! These are the approaches I could take to get the bloomin’ thing over with:

  1. Just carry on – it will get finished eventually.
  2. Set some time aside, grab an energy drink, and just go at it until it’s done.
  3. Put it away for a while, to return to it when I feel more motivated.
  4. Start another project and do the two alongside each other. One of them is bound to get done!

Right, they were in no particular order – just numbered for easy reference. Looking at them now, number 1 looks silly, if I did number 3 I’d probably never come back to it, and a second project would no doubt take over completely. Which leaves 2.

But what do you think? Have you ever run out of steam at the end of a project, or does it get you all fired up? If you struggle to finish, what helps?

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  • Craig

    Option 4!  Always always option 4!  Thats why I have about 7 major projects all in various stages of completion.

    The problem, as you note, is that the end is always scary isnt it?  Some might argue that its the journey and not the destination that is the important thing.  That may be good for character building, but its certainly not good for finishing a project!  I think we all drag our feet towards the end of something because A) as writers we’re all obsessive perfectonists, and B) It scares us that we might get something finished and have to do something with it.  So its always ‘Oh, I’ll just do one more redraft’, or ‘I’m not happy with this, bit, I’ll see what I can do with it.’  I relish reaching the end (FIRST DRAFT!) because then you get to mess about with it.  You’re right when you say its safer to edit than do something new.  The analogy I thought of this week is thusly:  Writing is like making a sandbox.  When you start you have to go through the arduous process of filling said box with sand, one shovel at a time, which you have to drag from the beach (or the construction yard).  Once the sandbox is full (that first draft is finished) then you get to have as much fun as you want messing about in it.

  • Lancer

    What if you start another project (#4) and then both drag on? Start a new one! Infinite spawns!

    On a more serious note, I find that putting it away for a while (#3) can be very dangerous. There is a high risk associated with that choice. If you put it away for too long, you may find that ALL of your motivation for that project dies. It’s happened to me more often than I’d like to remember.

    I like #1 and #2, which I think are two faces of the same coin: just do it. That’s what it comes down to when all is said and done. A writer without discipline will not be a writer for much longer.

    Thanks for the post! I enjoyed it.

  • http://getmewriting.com Matt Roberts

    I might have guessed you’d go with option 4!

    I like your new analogy

  • http://getmewriting.com Matt Roberts

    Glad you liked it!

    Yep, I’m still looking to blast through it. I have some time in the house on my own at the weekend and I’ve decided that is the day for getting things finished!