Why Writers Never Finish What They Start: The Top 3 Reasons for Stagnation
As writers, it’s part of the territory to leave a trail of half-finished projects in your wake, right?
And if you’re a creative, isn’t it inevitable to have at least one project that you’ve always had an urge to complete but simply can’t get near the finish line?
Perhaps, but not always.
Sometimes there are other reasons – apart from creative licence – why you don’t finish what you start. If you’re guilty (me, too, by the way!) of starting a new writing project and never finishing it, then let me share with you why that might be the case.
#1 Your mojo goes AWOL
Starting a project is exciting. Those initial sparks of ideas motivate you to pick up your pen and jot down your thoughts. And they fly in from all directions! There’s nothing quite like that buzz, is there?
But this initial fire in your belly isn’t enough to keep you going. If your project is put on the back burner in exchange for client work/other responsibilities/life in general, then the bigger the gap between working on it, the more your motivation levels will dip.
What to do when you’ve lost your mojo …
Breaking down your project into more manageable pieces will get you back in your writing groove. And if you reward yourself when you hit the next milestone, your motivation levels will get a much-needed boost. Regardless of the extent of your project, being mindful of your mojo and how to rediscover it will keep you on track.
#2 You’re in the wrong mindset
Once that ‘wow, new project’ honeymoon period is over and it’s lost its shine, your mindset does a 360. You start to think about that project differently. You get frustrated because you can’t rekindle that initial excitement, and the new project feels overwhelming.
If you’re in this mindset, you won’t have any inclination to pick up your project again, never mind finish it. Maybe you’re already telling yourself you won’t finish it, or it’s just too hard or time-consuming. These negative pathways of thinking can set you off on a downward spiral.
What to do when your mindset’s an obstacle …
Flip your mood around and think positively about your project. Write down all the reasons why it would be a great idea to finish it. Think about those initial sparks and how they made you feel. And try to get back into that zone of excitement and creativity. A new and positive outlook will renew your energy and inspire you to complete the writing project once and for all.
#3 You’re not disciplined
You’ll never finish writing that book if you lack self-discipline. A writer who is disciplined doesn’t give up when the going gets tough. They avoid slacking off and procrastinating.
Think about those best-selling authors. Did they tell themselves they were too tired to write today and pop Netflix on instead? Did J K Rowling decide to just eat cake, drink coffee and chat with the other mums in that Edinburgh coffee shop? Nope. If she had, we’d never have heard of her.
What to do when your discipline goes out of the window …
Put the work in! It’s time to cultivate self-discipline in your life. Find a way to break through those obstacles, commit to writing for a certain length of time per day (or a particular word count) and don’t weasel your way out of it.
Journaling is a great way to get back on track. You could write down all the reasons why you’ve let your enthusiasm wane for a particular project, and then create some ideas (baby steps if necessary) to help you move forward again.
As a writer, I know it’s difficult to finish what you start. But if you want to be a success, if you want to keep creating and setting your ideas free for other people to enjoy, you need to finish your projects.
Understanding why you’re a starter and not a finisher will help you stop stalling.
So, don’t put off any longer. Go and look at how many WIPs you have on your PC, in your notebook, or on scrappy bits of paper around your desk. Choose one you’d like to finish and get cracking. Make a promise to yourself that you won’t start any new projects until you’ve finished this one.
Additional reading around writer’s lifestyle:
Are you going to pick up a work-in-progress and get back on with it? I hope so. Let me know how you get on by leaving a comment in the box below.