by Sarah Tun
There was once a very wise man who wrote,
“… One thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward… ” (Philippians 3)
It is just a small piece of his many writings, but Paul the Apostle, also known as Saint Paul, wrote a lot and many of his letters found their way into the Bible. He finished his course.
Finishing is something a writer must do in order to get out his thoughts and words. Editing is something that polishes the work. It is better to finish the writing than to edit a piece of it, for no one will read any of it unless it is finished and sent out into the world.
This is logical.
Pride or shame or perfectionism may have their places in the writing process, but not in the first draft. “Finished is better than perfect” is a motto I subscribe to. It comes from Chandler Bolt, one of the founders of the Self Publishing School, of whom I am a graduate. I don’t jive with everything he says or does… for me some of it is just too time consuming for my lifestyle of family and friends. BUT “finished is better than perfect” is something to which I certainly subscribe.
What holds you back from finishing a project?
1. Time can always be found. Sometimes we have to make time to write by giving up something else at least temporarily. But time or lack of it is not a reason to start but not finish.
2. Fear must be overcome if one is to become a writer. Fear of failure, fear of writing badly, fear of criticism are all matters to be dealt with, and these are not reasons not to finish3. Lack of planning can lead to getting stuck which in turn prevents us from finishing. So, plan before you start: use a mind map, create an outline, use a timer to keep you on track. There are all kinds of ways to ensure you keep going. (I can be available for personal coaching — by email to start at email@example.com)
4. Writer’s block? There’s always Stream-of-Consciousness that can help to get you out of a rut. I blogged on that recently.
5. It is really, very important to finish something once you’ve started it, unless of course it is a project that, as you write it, you discover it’s “going nowhere”. That might be because you’ve chosen the wrong genre. Or because it’s a short story and not a novel, and there simply isn’t enough to make it a “big project”. This false start shouldn’t happen too often, and if it does, perhaps you need to recognise you might be falling into a pattern of stalling because of fear or lack of planning.
Try to start as you intend to finish… Like raising a child, you want your project (book, story, presentation, or blog post) to be perfect. But as his own art seemed to Vincent Van Gogh, art is usually imperfect to the artist. Let go of fear, perfectionism and any shame that you might carry in your work. You can trust that as it came from within, it needs to get out!
Offer someone a finished piece to read. You may just discover it’s a gift to the receiver and an offering you’ve enjoyed to create.
I had intended to put my blogging on hold, and said so in my January post. I’ve got a big writing project at the moment. But then I decided, sharing with others the process of the writing craft is important. I want to keep going, and so, I am.
(c) Sarah Tun, 2018