As we wind down the year 2014, I thought this would be an appropriate topic - finishing.
When I was a fairly new writer, I made a mistake that I see many writers make (and yes, I'm still guilty of it from time to time myself.) And that is editing, again and again, the beginning of a manuscript, until it's almost perfect - but never actually finishing the darn thing!
Especially for those of us with time constraints - jobs, children, animals, housework, yardwork, exercise, or whatever else takes up your time - it's common to set aside a WIP (work-in-progress) for awhile. But here's what often happens when you jump back in to it: you re-read the entire thing from the very beginning, fixing things along the way. Over and over! Yes, edit, edit, edit: it's a writer's job, right?
Wrong. A writer's first job is to finish! And the best way to do this (I've learned over the years) is to not begin from the beginning. Instead, when you open that manuscript to work on it once again, look over the last few paragraphs where you left off. Just enough to give you the feel of where you were, and where you intended to go (if you can remember.)
Just jog your memory and Keep Going! Keep going towards the end. Resist the urge to edit that thing to perfection every time you open it on your computer.
I've known many writer friends over the years who have fantastic, partially finished manuscripts they've been working on forever, but who never, ever, get to the ending. Don't let this be you!
There are no better words that an author likes to write than "The End."
After that, set it aside for a little while, and then (with fresh eyes) you can start your edits, your polishing, your re-working those words to make them sing.
But first and foremost, you have to finish the thing. So resist the urge to correct every mistake. Resist the urge to polish, polish, polish. Just press on, and keep going until you actually reach The End.
Well, this is the end of 2014. Soon we will say Hello to 2015.
As for me, I am working on a brand new Cat Tale, which will be called The Newlywed Cat.
Watch for it in early 2015. Happy New Year, Everyone!