How to Finish Writing That Story When Your Brain’s Already Checked Out

It’s tempting, no matter how many years you’ve been doing this whole writing thing. But if you’ve come this far, if you’re so close, you can’t just leave it unfinished.


Every now and again you’ll get the urge to abandon a project. Not just an idea you haven’t started working on or something that isn’t feasible the way you thought it would be, but something you started, almost finished, are completely capable of finishing … and you just don’t want to anymore.

There are a lot of writing ‘slumps’ that happen when you’re writing a story. There seems to be one final hurdle, when you’re getting close to almost finishing but aren’t quite there yet, that trips up almost everyone.

The worst instance is when you want to abandon what you are currently working on because of a new idea. You’re bored with this one. Tired. You’re ready to move on to something new … and just can’t seem to find a reason to bother finishing what you started first.

You’ll regret that later. Something bright and shiny may have come along, but it’s not going to stay bright and shiny forever. How long before you abandon that for something else, too?

Finish what you start before you move on. Here’s how.

Implement a self-reward system

There’s really no reason why you can’t finish what you started. Excuses are very easy to make, but you can knock them down by setting milestones for yourself. Small ones. And when you reach a milestone, such as another chapter written or another 1,000 words out of the way, celebrate reaching that milestone.

You need something to convince yourself continuing to work on this project is worth it, even if the reward is completely unrelated. Promise yourself a trip to the movies this weekend. Let yourself buy a new book. Let yourself watch Netflix for an entire day this Saturday if you reach your goal. Whatever is going to persuade you to keep at it.

Set aside time to get it done

When there’s so much out there to look at and do, and there are too many ideas you actually want to make happen, patience is one thing that will always frustrate you. All of a sudden, taking the time to sit down and work on something you really don’t want to work on anymore is so low on your list of priorities it might as well not exist at all.

The only way to fix this, of course, is to make it a priority. Literally block out time in your schedule for working on that story, whether you want to or not. If you don’t do that, if you don’t force yourself to sit down and do it, you will never finish it. Even if you only work on it for 15 minutes every day, that still counts. Just keep going.

Remember your original reason for starting

You started writing this story for a reason: that’s how writing works. Something, somewhere along the way, inspired you. Maybe you started writing about mental illness because of something a friend struggles with, or you wanted to write a story about relationships because of something really good or not so good that happened in your life.

Whatever your reason, go back to it, if you can. Did you journal about it before starting to write? If so, can you go back to those entires and read through them? Can you talk to that person again, the one whose story inspired yours? Do what you have to do to remind yourself why you started this story in the first place. It just might reignite your fire and give you the burst of energy you need to push through and finally finish what you started.

Don’t give up. You will feel so much better when you do finally finish this. Don’t let it slip away from you yet. Be patient. Keep writing.

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