In Praise of Finishing.

The writers community would be well served if we spent a bit more time encouraging and praising the simple act of completion.

There are many valuable resources out there pertaining to plot, characters, dialogue, grammar, tension, how to get an agent or how to self publish. Voice, point of view, style, genre. Conventions. Marketing. Networking. All of these of course play their part in the career of a writer.

Yet how often do we recognize that just finishing a short story, (and certainly a novel) is an accomplishment in its own right? We talk about “butt in chair” and crack our whips at one another to make sure we are reaching word counts each day. We offer tips on how to plow through when we don’t want to be writing. And of course there’s no shortage of reminders that a first draft of anything is crap. Ad infinitum writers tell themselves and other writers not to fall too much in love with the first version of your piece. Kill those darlings, and what not. Edit, edit, edit.

Let’s not, however overlook one significant truth in this writing life; finishing a manuscript is a big deal. Before we edit, find beta readers, seek representation, define out voice, master pacing, study three act structures and all of that sort of thing, we must first be proud of finishing something. It’s not that easy to do, and I think sometimes we in the community forget that. Sometimes the be all and end all of our encouragement and praise of other writers needs to be about finishing.

New writers would be especially served by this. Those who are just starting out as writers are inundated with advice, pointers, tips and admonishments. “Ten Things That Will Make an Agent Laugh at Your Attempts” and so on. No wonder so many people are scared off of writing before they even try it.

It takes time, energy and discipline to do any kind of writing. I’ve known about a dozen people who “wish” they could write. They haven’t because most of them lack said time, energy and discipline. Yet these are things that a writer must summon on their own. They will not be bestowed upon anyone. They must be demanded. And when they are, and someone alters their life, their mindset and comes to a true end of a piece, (as in not having quit before it was over), something rather uncommon has occurred. Most people, fellow writers, don’t bother. I know that’s difficult to realize sometimes when you sit in the middle of a writing world, but the majority of people don’t get anything done. When they, or you, or I finish something, even if it goes no further than draft one, it’s cause for some celebration.

So if you’re a writer, remember to breathe a bit once you finish something, and congratulate yourself. If your friend finishing something, congratulate them. If you have not written anything before an would like to try it, NanoWrimo is coming up. If you can’t take part in that, ignore all of the advice coming at you about how to write. Just finish, and I personally will be impressed by that fact alone.

 

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