How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers

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How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers

I am often overwhelmed by my freelance projects once I have taken them on. It is an art to balance your work so you not only accomplish the goals for your clients, you are also able to complete the goals you set for yourself. This is a blog that gives some very good suggestions.

A guest post by Ali Luke of Aliventures.

Do you have a bunch of first chapters tucked away in a drawer – for seven different novels?

Is there a folder full of abandoned short stories on your computer?

Have you left a trail of abandoned blogs around the internet?

Did your ebook fizzle out after a few pages?

Most writers have been there … again, and again, and again. When I began writing, I spent plenty of timestarting stories. The problem was, I pretty much never finished them.

Maybe it’s the same for you. You’ve got plenty of great ideas, and you just can’t resist throwing yourself into them. Unfortunately, your motivation seems to vanish … and you’re left with a bunch of notes, outlines and first drafts that aren’t going anywhere.

No-one’s going to buy a half-written novel. No-one’s going to read a blog post that stops short after two paragraphs. So whether your writing aspirations involve hitting the New York Times bestseller list or living from the passive income from your ebooks, you need to finish what you start.

Here’s how:
Step #1: Stop Starting New Projects

Believe me, I know how tempting it is to grab that new idea and run with it. But now’s the time to stop.Resist the urge to begin anything new – however cool it sounds right now. After a few days or weeks, that shiny new project is going to lose its appeal and end up in the unfinished heap along with everything else.
Do it:

Decide, right now, that you won’t start anything new until you’ve finished something off. Find a notebook, or create a document on your computer, to store any awesome ideas that crop up – you can always come back to them in the future.
Step #2: Assess Your Current Projects

Take a long, hard look at all your current works-in-progress. If your writing life looks anything like mine, you might well need to grab a sheet of paper and make a list – you may even want to hunt through your desk drawers or your computer’s folders.

Is there anything that’s just not worth completing? Maybe the novel you started ten years ago isn’t the one you want to write now. Maybe that blog post draft was never going to go anywhere.

Rather than keeping old projects hanging around, ditch any that have died on you:

As with all dead things, holding onto it won’t keep it alive or change the fact that it’s useful time has come and gone. Hanging onto dead stuff has a higher psychic cost than most of us realize; in time, dead stuff does what trash and dead things do – it stinks.

(Charlie Gilkey, Don’t Leave Your Trash On The Stairs, Productive Flourishing)
Do it:

Make three lists:
Active projects that still excite you and have a purpose
Dead projects that you’re ready to let go (even if you feel a little bit reluctant)
Dormant projects that you might come back to in the future

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