For the Writers Who Can’t Finish Anything

Finishing things is hard.


A draft of this blog post has been sitting in my WordPress drafts for over a month. I have drafts in there even older than this one. For a long time, I thought, ironically, I wasn’t going to ever be able to finish this one. So I decided to open it back up and do the impossible.

We all struggle with not being able to finish things. Some of us are better at following through than others. For those writers who desperately want to be successful, but can’t ever seem to actually finish writing anything, there are a few things you should know.

Sometimes it’s okay not to finish.

All ideas start out as good ideas. The more time we spend working on them, the more clear it becomes whether or not an idea is in fact a good one. If you lose interest, if you realize you need to go in a different direction or that a project just isn’t possible right now, that’s okay. That is a major sign that you are able to think logically about your creativity, which is not something every artist of any kind can do.

You are not a failure.

If anyone has ever told you that your work doesn’t count because you didn’t technically finish it, they’re mostly wrong. Having the courage to start a project is not something every aspiring writer possesses. Just because you have a hard time following through right now does not mean you have not succeeded. It takes a lot of willpower to decide you are going to sit down and write something. Don’t downplay that.

Discouragement is normal.

We’re all going to have those moments when we just hate everything we’ve written in the past week and we want to throw it all away. I’m not going to tell you what to do. But sometimes not being able to finish writing something is a kind of mental block we give to ourselves. You have complete power over your mindset. You choose whether or not to finish something. If you’re feeling discouraged right now, it’s okay to walk away for awhile. Try coming back to it later. And if you do try that, and you still aren’t feeling it, don’t let that bring you down, either. Just put it to bed and move on.

You are going to get better at this.

The more you write, the more you find what works for you and what doesn’t. You will eventually find your niche and your style and your voice. Sometimes it takes many, many attempts before you discover these things. Some of those attempts come in the form of completed works, and some of them just happen to be piles of unfinished projects. Even I have those! What you don’t want to do is stop completely. If you get bored, move on to something else. Just keep trying. You WILL improve.

Resources for the chronic incomplete-ists:

I’ve been where you are. Starting to write something, and then finishing it, is hard. It’s what separates the wannabe writers from the aspiring success stories. You CAN and you WILL do this. But in the meantime, the best thing you can do is to keep trying. Keep starting. Find that project that sucks you in so deeply you can’t help but finish … focus on that, and finish it! Then celebrate, because THAT’S A BIG DEAL!

Is there something else keeping you from finishing your projects? Leave a comment down below. There’s a possibility I, or another reader, may be able to help.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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