Recently I’ve learned the only way to finish anything is to work on one writing project at a time. Pick one project and see it through all the way to the end before starting your next effort. Make notes, keep a voice recorder handy for when inspiration strikes or brainstorm on a whiteboard, but don’t start with something new until you’ve finished the first project. I heard this advice before finishing my first novel and internalized it. At the time I had several projects in different stages of completion and had never finished any of them. I had no idea why this always happened, but I was finally able to see that my attention was just too divided for me to be productive.
For instance, I had written 300 pages of a high fantasy novel and then put it down one day when I began to wonder if any of my ideas were original. I also had a “script” for a graphic novel but no finished drawings as I couldn’t find someone willing to put so much effort into making my words come to life without being paid for it. And most recently there was the “radio play,” I started with my boyfriend which was supposed to be a modernized version of the “twilight zone.” We wrote three scripts together and never recorded anything.
I can’t say how many times I wanted to put down “The 9th Dimension” in favor of my graphic novel script, a new short story or some other writing project. It was through sheer willpower and some good natured deadline reminders from my publisher, that I was able to stay focused. The point of all this is to say that sometimes it’s detrimental to the process to have too many irons in the fire. At the present I’m editing my second novel, “A Broken Duty.” This is the most challenging part for me because like everyone, I like the “creating” much more than the “polishing.” I am on high alert for anything that might threaten to distract me from finishing. That fantasy novel that I’ve shelved is calling to me and promising to be much more interesting than proper comma placement! I have to plug up my ears and keep pressing on.