Thursday, December 11, 2014

How Do I Finish a Writing Project?

NOTE: With this blog entry I am redirecting the focus of my ongoing EC Come, EC Go, blog posts to writing, primarily fiction writing, rather than video production. I do, however, continue with my series of books on making money producing video, found at Lulu. Revised, updated editions and new books in the “Seven Ways to Make Money with Video" series are coming in 2015.
A dear writing friend of mine asked me recently: Do you have any tips on how finish a (writing) project?
I responded:
There are, of course, the thousand-and-one things that people (writers and wannabe writers) post or comment whenever a question like yours gets posed. The vast majority will comment "just keep writing" or "if you really wanted to write you would" and while there's certainly truth in that, there's MORE to the challenge of finishing a project as well. The simple fact that pushing or punishing yourself into writing, forcing it, hammering down, blah, blah, blah, alone isn't The Answer, as you already know. It's easy to say or think, "just do it!"
That being said, the single most important truth has more than one element of focus. The essentials include: TIME (real or perceived, available or lack thereof); Incentive/drive/self-discipline; and DESIRE/MOTIVATION.
More than anything, there is the very real need to WANT to write your story.
You are ambushed by feelings of doubt, insecurity—is it REALLY any good, or am I just kidding myself?—when you read or see so many others bragging and going off on how many thousands of words they accomplished today. You then ask yourself how you can possibly hammer out a thousand or more words a day, and if you don't, will you EVER finish a writing project.
There are many RIGHT and ten times as many WRONG ways to go at it.
But you first have to be excited about the story you want to tell.
So, you have a story you want to tell and you are truly excited about it. You WANT to get it written, and, maybe share it when you're done.
I am primarily a "reveal" or "discovery" writer—what many refer to as a "Pantser"...writing by the seat of my pants, with no safety net and no outline. That is just me, but it does do one helps me simply TELL my story without paying a lot of attention to rules, homilies, you ought to do this or thats, or a rigid plan. I can let my imagination run wild and free, only focusing on telling the story—time enough for editing and cleaning up later. STORY first, fix later.
BUT, I do outline. By that, I mean I'll take this idea that has slammed its way into my creative imagination, and I'll use a journal or notebook to simply AT LEAST, come up with ideas and thoughts for each chapter. Those are my Roman numeral I, II, III, IV, etc. outline headers. I may, or not, go any further. I may just use this as a rough guide for moving along with a story that I hope will be something close to what I imagine it should be.
TIME: If you tell yourself that you WILL WRITE one hour a day. It can be 6 in the morning or 10 at night or anything before, after or between. You don't HAVE to stick with the clock, just KNOW in your creative writer's heart-of-hearts that no matter WHAT happens on any given day you WILL write for one hour. This is where it all starts and how you get into the mode that will help you finish a project.
So, you have a story idea you LOVE, and you've determined that you WILL write (hand, or typed) one hour a day.
You have written some notes to guide your effort, and perhaps a simple outline of the chapter events that you think ought to take place.
If you DO determine that you like and enjoy not only writing, but the story idea you want to give life to, if you determine to write a certain period of time each day, you are close to having the ingredients that will help you complete a project.
Do this daily, but like running or other life events, don't thrash yourself if you miss a day here and there. Just do not allow missing your one-hour-a-day writing session to become an anti-habit. It is critical that you do whatever it takes to compel yourself to write a certain period of time at least 5-6 days a week. Don't let LIFE get in the way.
As I have shared with my many FWG (FB Fiction Writers Group) writing friends before, there is a strength to putting down X number of words a day. Not editing. Not correcting as you go. Not reading and re-reading, changing and plodding forward a sentence or two. But simply writing to tell your story. Visualize your story as it unfolds. SEE it in your mind's eye, and simply write down (REPORT) what you see, hear, taste, smell, feel. Then keep in mind that ANY number of words, written each day, day-after-day, WILL result in a story, short story, novella or novel over time.
Just 50 words a day—written during that one hour you've committed to—will result in a GREAT short story, or two awesome short stories a year. One story of 12,500 words, or two 6,250 excellent short stories.
100 words a day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year, will generate a fantastic novella of 25,000 words. Awesomesauce!
Double that to 200 words each day, for one hour of serious writing, for 5 days a week and 50 weeks a year, and you are in NOVEL territory. And, there is nothing at all wrong with writing one novel a year of 50,000 or more words.
With all the wonderful folks and resources available on Fiction Writers Group, you have at your disposal, readers, editors, book designers, cover designers and reviewers, even marketers who can help you once you've written your story.
It does, my friend, take a certain degree of personal drive and ambition, but if you set aside the time, have the inspiration and plan for reaching your storytelling goal, you WILL absolutely finish your project.

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