Games Writers Play #4: Just Finish It

Scott William Carter   February 9, 2010  

gwpEverybody knows that old Nike slogan, right?  Just do it.  For the sake of writing, I’ve taken the liberty of modifying it slightly to “Just Finish It.”

In practice, it translates this way:  No matter how you feel about the project at hand, you must finish it.

A lot of writers, especially in the beginning, suffer from what I’d term APS — Abandoned Project Syndrome.  Novels, stories, articles, poems are all started with great passion, but somewhere along the way that passion dissipates.  Maybe you don’t think that original idea was so good after all.  Maybe it seems like more work than you anticipated.  Whatever the reason, this is very common, and that’s when you have to push through those roadblocks and finish it anyway.

Most writers are the worst judges of their own work.  It’s true.  So whether you think that story or novel sucks or not is irrelvant.  What is relevant is that it’s not a story or novel or essay or haiku unless it’s finished. If it’s not finished, it’s nothing.  It can’t be sold.

If you’re starting out, here’s the real problem with abandoning projects halfway through:  You never learn how to finish.  I mean this in two ways.  One, you never learn how to write the conclusion to your story — it’s like trying to learn how to play the piano while skipping half the keys.  And two, you’re not learning the mental skills of seeing a project to its completion.

There’s also another benefit to finishing what you started:  Most people receive a great boost from finishing a project, a boost that can propel them right into the next project.  If you don’t finish, you don’t get the boost.

So finish what you start, whether you like it or not.  In the long run, it’s doubtful you’ll be able to look back and know which projects you loved writing and which ones you hated –and even if you do it won’t matter because few writers can judge their work accurately.

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