Writing Book Proposals
The Art of Retreating

Finishing Things Up

It was Sunday afternoon.  The first rainy day we've had in ages.  I had run around all morning: to church, to my sister's to pick up a European outlet adapter, and to the nail salon for a pedicure.  So, really?  All I wanted to do was relax.  Maybe doze on the couch.  Make some progress on the science fiction book I'm reading that is semi-endless.

But there was that project to consider.

A chapter for a client that I'd promised I'd get done before I left.

Said client is currently busy with other things and behind on reading the work I'm sending, and had made it clear that I didn't have to get her the chapter.

But I said I'd do it.   And the thought of how wonderful I'd feel upon my return, knowing that this project was done (except for rewrites) propelled me to my computer. So instead of lolling all afternoon, I worked.  Sat at my computer and wrote for three hours.  And I got the chapter done.  

Nothing feels better than getting things done.  (Okay, maybe a few things top that feeling, but still.)

And I started thinking about this in regards to our WIPs.  I know at least one productive writer, Dean Wesley Smith, says that finishing pieces (and then sending them out) is the key to success as a writer.   As I've said before and I'll say again, it's so important to push ahead on a draft of your WIP because you're going to know  much, much more about your story when you get to the end.  It's just the way it works.

It is very easy to get caught up in making something, like a first chapter, perfect, and then not making forward progress.  I found myself doing this recently with my novel and I realized I was just spinning my wheels and I needed to move forward.  I do allow myself a tiny bit of editing because that seems to come with the territory of re-reading what I've written, but beyond that it is best to just keep plodding forward.

In order to facilitate that, I take really good notes, both on my intentions of where I think I'm going and from what my writing group says about my WIP.  Then, when I've finished this draft, I can go back and remember what I wanted to do.  Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins, says that one of the best things you can do for yourself is keep a writing journal, a chronicle of your WIP.  John Steinbeck did this also, and you can actually buy his journals that he kept while writing The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden.

But do not get so engrossed in your writer's journal that you don't finish your WIP!

So now I'm feeling like the proverbial weight has been lifted from my shoulders simply because I finished that project.   And I'm so glad I made the effort.

Update: I just saw this page of advice from writers and several of them mention finishing things!

What about you?  Are you good at finishing projects?

***Registration for the Book Proposals That Succeed Teleclass is now open!  Early bird pricing until September 15th, and the first three people who sign up get a free coaching session.

****If you want to follow along photographically on my journey through France, follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook (I'm not so good on FB, but I'm determined to try!)  Also, we plan to blog about the retreat at our retreat site.  I'll post links here as well.

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