Enemies of the Art Part 8–Being a Starter Not a Finisher

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 7.51.15 AM

Image courtesy of Rennett Stowe Flikr Creative Commons

Starting is easy. It’s exciting, fun, new and shiny. Anyone can start something. Heck, The Spawn starts at least ten things before 7:30 in the morning. When we start something new, we are pumped. We have people around us cheering. Everything is fun. We seem to have boundless energy.

Starting is necessary, but starting needs to become habit and become focused. The world rewards those who finish. We can start a new book, but once the “new idea smell” has worn off, we must transition into the mature artist’s version of starting, which is Just Do It.

Stick to what you are doing. Get started every day. When the project is weary and tired and so are you, then start again and again and again. Mature professionals ignore their feelings. They know feelings lie and feelings are our inner three-year-old who is easily bored or distracted.

I’ve worked with some really talented people, people probably more talented than me. The problem? Lack of focus. Always something new, something better. This time this project will be different. Uh huh. The problem is that success involves a lot of what isn’t fun. In fact, being successful involves a lot of repetition and drudgery. It entails learning tasks we hate and doing chores that bore us.

Ask any multi-published author and they will tell you that a book they loved at the beginning, they hated by the end because they were so sick to death of it. Granted, after a little time passes, we love our work…because there is a completed project to reflect upon.

Chronic Starting is a TRUE Enemy of the Art

Why? Well, a number of reasons.

We Can’t Grow

Pressure, stress and being forced into areas that just plain hurt make us grow and mature as artists. If we aren’t finishing books, maybe we need to understand plotting and structure better. If we keep starting new books, we never push into that area that forces us to strengthen where we are weak.

Yes, we are artists, but art is a business. We need to learn the unfun stuff like accounting, budgeting, spreadsheets and hiring and firing. Being a writer is not a glittery unicorn hug.

Anyone can start a blog. Blogs are free. Follow some prompts. But sticking to it? Sticking to it when it seems no one is listening? That’s when we have time to see what works and what doesn’t. We learn. We grow. We develop character.

We Never See Rewards

We have to learn to ship. Artists ship. That was a wonderful lesson I learned in Seth Godin’s Linchpin. The world will never reward the half-finished book, the abandoned blog or the business we left to rot.

The first YEAR I blogged, I was lucky to have 50 visits a day and probably most of those were spam bots. But I kept pressing, kept learning and trying new things. I kept blogging even when it seemed that no one was listening. I knew that, even if no one ever listened, blogging was a great exercise in developing the character of a professional. It taught me to show up day after day after day even when there seemed no apparent reward.

What happened? One day my blog exploded in readership and went from 100 visits a day to 1000 and has grown steadily. But that took over TWO YEARS. And even though I travel all over the country speaking, and teach classes and run after a three-year-old while running a business and writing more books…I still blog.

We Lose Respect and Support

When I first wanted to be a writer, most of my family was not supportive AT ALL. Why? Because I was a flake. They’d been down this road before and been duped.

Others can only cheer for our new beginning so many times before we lose their trust. I wasn’t a finisher. I would start something and the second it was actual work, I was on to something new. In my family’s eyes? Why would writing be any different?

It took years to prove to them I was the horse worth betting on. Now? They are my greatest champions because they now realize I’ve grown up. I have earned support and respect by sticking to what I start.

Most of our peers want us to succeed. They, too, love being part of something new. But our job is to let them see the fruits of our dreams. If we keep darting off to something shinier, we lose the respect and support of people around us. Instead of being happy about our bold new adventure, they roll their eyes and make bets how long it will take us to quit.

And I am not judging any of you. I have been through this myself. When I write about enemies of the art, it is because I have battled these foes on the front lines, and I didn’t always win. We will always fight them. They will never go away. Right now, I am in the last leg of my new book, like 10,000 words from finishing. I have to fight the siren’s song of doing something new every moment of every day. So I get you. Really, I do.

Just remember, The world does not reward starters; it rewards finishers.

What are your thoughts? Do you have trouble focusing? How do you fight the siren song of the shiny?

Here’s some Eye of the Tiger. Just keep playing it and keep pressing!

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of February I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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  1. #1 by Janet Boyer (@JanetBoyer) on February 27, 2013 - 9:22 am

    OMG, I so needed to hear this! I’m 7,000 words into a cozy mystery series (that my beta readers “say” is awesome)…but I keep drifting back to my comfort zone (non-fiction Tarot writing). Thank you for posting about focus and finishing (and, especially, preserving when you feel like no one is reading your blog). I’m re-organzing and re-focusing TODAY. Bless you!

  2. #2 by Maggie Amada on February 27, 2013 - 9:24 am

    Kristen, I have to admit this is a boogie monster I have struggled with. I’m addicted to change so I come up with little tricks to make it seem like I’m changing without actually changing. I juggle multiple streams at once so I can flip to another aspect of the same thing when I get bored. I change locations, setups, colors, whatever, to keep me interested. No matter what, there comes a moment when I have to decide whether to stick with it or let it go. Which I choose tends to depend on how much I love what I’m doing and whether it aligns with my priorities.

    What I’ve learned is that if I care about something, I have to make a little headway every day in that thing no matter what else matters. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Big efforts once in a while is not usually what gets us through but rather steady progress toward well-identified goals.

  3. #3 by Marcie Atkins on February 27, 2013 - 9:26 am

    Thank you for this post. I definitely need to read this TODAY. I’m here for the long haul, but hearing your encouragement was an extra boost.

  4. #4 by howmyspiritsings on February 27, 2013 - 9:32 am

    This has always been my main problem. I’m great at starting, but I have an aversion to finishing. By breaking down big projects into smaller tasks that I do one “project” at a sitting, Thanks for the insight. I will do as you suggest and I will be able to finish those larger projects by starting over and over again!

  5. #5 by stephanieberget on February 27, 2013 - 9:37 am

    I have written five books, but only finished and polished one. That one I sold. The only reason I finished it was I had it entered in Cherry Adair’s Finish the Damn Book contest. It taught me so much about pushing on to the finish. Thanks for this. I’m editing and ready to pull my hair out, but I am going to finish.

  6. #6 by Elizabeth Anne Mitchell on February 27, 2013 - 9:38 am

    Stop looking over my shoulder, Kristen! I am sooo guilty as charged, Your three reasons really hit me, because no one had verbalized those reasons to me, or if someone has, I wasn’t ready to hear it. The last one resonates, as my sister has called me “a perpetual adolescent.” Ouch!

  7. #7 by lythya on February 27, 2013 - 9:41 am

    To me the hardest part of any story is the middle. I know, this is a cliché, but doing nanowrimo two years and now finishing up my third project I have noticed that the beginning is really strong, then there’s a lut of stuffing in the middle and then I get to the ending. I’m thinking maybe i should write the beginning, then when it feels flat I move to the ending and write the middle as the last thing.

    Anyway, the first draft is always just that: the first draft. I’m still at the point where just finishing the first draft is big. I’ve only ever truly edited short stories. But I think that’s because I was 1) unstructured at the beginning and 2) didn’t take myself or my project serious after having finished it.

  8. #8 by Nina Jones on February 27, 2013 - 9:46 am

    I really needed this now, for mutiple reasons. The mindboggeling question of how to get back on that horse once I’ve trod off to take a “little break”,- well I think you just answered it!

    Thanks!

  9. #9 by Diana Beebe on February 27, 2013 - 9:49 am

    Finish, finish, finish–The hardest lesson for me to learn. I’m getting it now. Great reminders, Kristen. Thanks!

  10. #10 by Playamart - Zeebra Designs on February 27, 2013 - 9:50 am

    very sage advice; it’s so easy to start something with a whirlwind of creative energy,which slowly fades as we progress. you are right about finally growing up and following through with our inspirations.
    great post!

  11. #11 by kimterry on February 27, 2013 - 9:53 am

    Whooo-doggies! Kristen, you peg me every time! I’ve been straddling the fence of “Sick of this book, let’s start a new one” and “No, Kim, you believe in its premise, so finish it…but how?”. Even though I’m juggling my WIP with a blog and the final preps of a Distance-Learning course to be offered, this summer, I’m determined to “soldier on”, especially since I thought of a whole new plot twist that solves a lot of problems but is waaaaaay more exciting.
    Writing is a marathon. Bands play and people cheer you at the starting gun, but somewhere around mile 13, when your muscles ache and you’re about to throw up, you question your judgment. (Okay, the closest I’ve ever come to running a marathon is a 5k, but still….:-)
    Hey! Blog idea,,,,,!

  12. #12 by Christine Adler on February 27, 2013 - 9:56 am

    For the longest time, I thought I was a writer with ADD; I’d focus on poetry and essays and articles with deadlines only–things that were short and complete-able. Now I’ve started a novel, and periodically go from being completely enthralled to wondering what the heck I was thinking. Thank you for letting me know I Am Not Alone!

  13. #13 by Patrick Jones on February 27, 2013 - 10:05 am

    We Are Not Alone…We Are Not Alone….great title and a GREAT selection for the supporting music!

  14. #14 by Janet Wolfe on February 27, 2013 - 10:08 am

    Hey Kristen. I love all your posts, but this one was so amazingly right. I felt like you must have read my mental autobiography. A “chronic starter”, that’s me, chasing all the writing rabbits. Thanks for your much needed “snap out of it” slap.

  15. #15 by Jennifer's Journal on February 27, 2013 - 10:12 am

    Kristen, you know exactly what I am going through. I am writing my novel’s first draft, and it takes tremendous discipline to show up every day to work on it. But there are no easy solutions; one has to be willing to work hard and consistently to complete anything worthwhile in life. Thank you for the pep talk!

  16. #16 by Carter Bame-Aldred on February 27, 2013 - 10:42 am

    I currently have probably 5 or 6 competing WIPs right now. I love being able to switch between them, but it just leads to a lot of procrastination and avoidance. I just need to remember to actually suck it up and do the damn work. Decided to do NaNoWriMo this year to actually get through a book for once.

  17. #17 by kinleybaker on February 27, 2013 - 10:43 am

    I never used to have trouble finishing writing projects and continuing to fight the good fight. But my last project has been like pulling teeth. I appreciate this post. I’m learning it’s not just about finishing once or finishing what comes easy. We’ll always be tested and every new day is a new challenge. Each moment we can decide to choose what’s comfortable or to tackle the obstacle that might clear the path for our elusive dreams.🙂 Thanks for the inspiration to keep battling on.

  18. #18 by Suzanne on February 27, 2013 - 10:58 am

    You are talkin’ to me, Kristen. I am glad to have words for my condition and it’s so good to know I am not the only who fights “the siren song of the shiny.” Thank you for the kick!

  19. #19 by L.S. Engler on February 27, 2013 - 11:18 am

    Ughh. I’m totally a chronic starter. I have so many started projects that I’ve entirely lost count. Thankfully, though, I don’t give up, even if it does take me a while to bring a project around to eventual completion, and most of the things I start are minor distractions before returning to whatever WIP is the major contender for the finish line. Still, so many ideas, so little time!

    I doesn’t help that my latest contender keeps deciding to want to be completely reorganized, but I refuse to give up!

  20. #20 by Dave Stovall on February 27, 2013 - 11:21 am

    Before I started following Kristen’s blogs, I thought there was something seriously wrong with me in terms of attention deficit but now I realize it’s really pretty normal. To paraphrase Tony Robbins, we are wired to be drawn to pleasure and avoid pain and writing can be painful. Makes even cleaning the crumbs out of the toaster seem a more appealing.

  21. #21 by breeroberts on February 27, 2013 - 11:43 am

    LOL @ those 80’s videos. Timely article, I’ve been avoiding writing for over 5 days now because I’m at the not-so-fun part (the middle), and I realize I need to go back and rewrite some earlier parts to actually have a plot. Sigh. Pantsing sucks.

    Maybe I’ll clean my toilets instead.

  22. #22 by Diana Douglas on February 27, 2013 - 11:46 am

    I thought I could avoid the ‘My WIP sucks and I want to start a new one’ delimma by a writing shorter book. I was wrong. The last 25% was shorter, but still painful.
    Look forward to hearing you speak at the Tucson Festival of Books.

  23. #23 by Lena Corazon on February 27, 2013 - 12:12 pm

    Oh boy, I definitely need a little Eye of the Tiger and tough talk to light a fire under my chair. I have 5 unfinished novels staring me in the face and countless ideas that would like to be born, but can’t emerge because haven’t finished anything. I’ve been using my dissertation as an excuse (and before that my MA thesis that seemed never-ending), but I think it’s time to stuff the excuses and just get things DONE.

  24. #24 by Wendy on February 27, 2013 - 12:13 pm

    I had this problem for a long time – but with my most recent book (which I just finished the first draft, woo hoo!) I made a commitment to myself and my husband that I would finish, so I looked for techniques that helped me stay focused during my work time. I’m using a combination of the methods I found in the book 2k to 10k: Writing faster, Writing Better and Writing more of what you love and The Pomodoro Technique ( I use an app on my phone called Wind Up) to stay focused and be really productive during my writing time. First, I write down a brief summary of what I’m going to write for a 30 minute session. Second, I write a goal in my app – usually it’s something like Write 500 Words. Lastly, I set the timer for 30 minutes, put my head phones on, listen to music that inspires me and write until I hear the ding. Once it dings, I set the timer again for five minutes, get a drink, stretch but I have to be back in my seat when that timer goes off.
    Before I started this method I was writing about 750-800 words a day in a two – three hour period. Now I’m writing 2000 – 3000 words in the same amount of time. Breaking it into such small chunks and having a word goal has really helped me. Since I started this in January, I added over 30,000 words to my novel and was able to finish it much faster than I thought I could. It’s not necessarily for everyone, but if you’re task oriented, this might work for you.

  25. #25 by Susan J on February 27, 2013 - 12:16 pm

    This is another kick in the rear, but it’s also hope that there is a getting beyond the internal barriers. Thanks–again.

  26. #26 by annerallen on February 27, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    I think all writers go through this. Maybe all creative people. I have a file drawer full of unfinished manuscripts that go back decades. Most of them didn’t deserve to be finished. They were dead-end stories that didn’t have enough juice in them to be novels but were too complex to be short stories.

    But I mine them all the time for characters and scenes in the books I write with more ease now because I’ve been at this so long. You’re absolutely right that we do need to push beyond our comfort zone. But sometimes projects don’t work out and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it. Knowing “when to fold ’em and when to hold ’em” is as important for a writer as a gambler. Or–maybe all writing is gambling in a way.::-)

  27. #27 by deanne wilsted on February 27, 2013 - 12:32 pm

    It’s funny that on my first three books I was able to write straight through the tough parts and finish each of them (though the first took five years). I think the sticking point for me was the expectation at that point. For my early novels my first goal WAS simply to finish, even if it sucked. But by book four I was starting to think in terms of a book that would be publishable, and nothing seemed good enough. So now, I am back to the goal of finishing my next project, no matter how it turns out. Hopefully that, along with your motivating article, will get me back on track.
    Thanks Kristen.
    Deanne

  28. #28 by SweetSong on February 27, 2013 - 12:46 pm

    Oh man, this one is SO true! (Not that you couldn’t say that for all the enemies you’ve illustrated so far…) We all just need to remind ourselves how annoying it is to see in other people and see ourselves from that perspective – it really helps motivate me, anyways.

  29. #29 by 1stpeaksteve on February 27, 2013 - 12:53 pm

    I actually just posted on a friends’ blog on almost the same subject. Well, they were sad because they felt that life was keeping them forever waiting.

    Some of my friends are successful and some of my friends are the talents that never made it. I think at this point, I am probably more in the second camp than the first. Looking back, my successful friends took a lot of big risks and slogged it out like you said. While my friends and I were having fun, they were training and putting in the hard yards. Most of them failed big time. I even laughed at one of them for a life decision that seemed at the time to be absurd. He did suffer for it and lost a lot. However, after a lot of time and effort, he made it work.

    So now, I am putting in the effort. Writing because I want to write, even if my audience is a handful of people.

    Thanks for the great posts!

  30. #30 by Jacqueline Howett on February 27, 2013 - 12:58 pm

    Great read! Thanks for sharing! Some wonderful comments also. I’ve been going on about the ‘focus’ thing lately, while trying to accomplish certain new endeavors and learning approches, and the need to take things ‘very slowly’ while analysing. Our lives in the fast lane with social networking using up a great part of our brains, I think can make us so impatient. Let’s not forget then, ‘the tortoise and the hare.’

  31. #31 by Lorraine Ruff on February 27, 2013 - 1:26 pm

    Ouch! I just retired after a 37-year career in science and technology reporting, strategist for science marleting-communications for the biotech industry (and midwife), subject matter expert in medical affairs for the DoD and now, a return-to-writing, this time a technothriller novelist. I started my first book, and you successfuly delivered the hard talk. I see a bit of me in your words and thank you. Boy, was your timing spot on, kind of a GPS fix. I’ll look forward to future posts. Best regards to all of you, Regards. , Lorraine

  32. #32 by Pat Mizell on February 27, 2013 - 1:47 pm

    I constantly scour the Internet looking for sites that may be useful. If one does I bookmark it into The Blob folder. Then periodically I go through The Blob for more intensive study. The sites that make that cut go into The Useful folder. When that list becomes too long I do my tough love and make a new folder called Everyday. Kristen just achieved that highest honor, bestowed to few.

    Described in my bookmark as “A Blogger With A Brain.”

    • #33 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 27, 2013 - 6:08 pm

      Thanks Pat! Quite an honor. Yes, I have a brain. Can’t always find it. It hides with the Legos in the couch😀.

  33. #34 by hcfbutton on February 27, 2013 - 4:47 pm

    I definitely have trouble finishing, partly because I like the ‘new and shiny,’ partly because I get bored, and partly because I was taught in architecture that ‘nothing is ever complete’ and its fed my perfectionist spirit ever since. So how do you balance ‘finishing’ with ‘completeness’?

    • #35 by Widdershins on February 28, 2013 - 3:30 pm

      I’d define ‘finishing’ as getting to the part where you write ‘The End’. ‘Complete’ is where you send it off to the publisher, or hit the ‘publish’ button yourself

      From an architectural POV, ‘finishing’ is where you make sure all the ‘shiny’ stuff is where it’s supposed to be, and the toilets work. ‘Complete’ is where you hand over the front door key to the owner.

      … was an architect in a previous invention of my Self!

  34. #36 by danielocceno on February 27, 2013 - 5:09 pm

    I am at the writer level of figuring out how to finish, because I know that I have so many ideas to start a new story at anytime. The spending a month at a log cabin in the wilderness, on some days, might be the only way I can be a finisher. Of course with modern technology it is not so scary. The solar backpack re-chargeable is available for recharging cell phones and smart phones and tablet PCs with wireless broadband Internet connection. Solar Lanterns are available for the mountain cabin without electricity, for those evening writing on paper or a re-charged tablet PC. A month supply of bottled distilled water “safe to drink” and a month supply of beef jerky and pickled sausages and cashew nuts and pistachio nuts and dried bananas and dried mangos. A jumbo can of Macadamia Nuts would also be good. But dealing with distractions is my temporary stoppage to being a finisher.

  35. #37 by MaLinda Johnson on February 27, 2013 - 5:26 pm

    I fight the siren’s song by remembering that there are so many people who are counting on me to show up and do my job. Subscribers, friends, my boss, my family, lots of people. I can’t let them down. So I carefully funnel my passion into each blog post and video I make. Besides, the shiny is no match for my boss’ words of praise.

  36. #38 by Kim Jorgensen Gane on February 27, 2013 - 6:18 pm

    Reblogged this on Kim Jorgensen Gane and commented:
    Wow, from a fellow former … ok, WIP … flake, this from @KristenLambTX & #WANACon Mama, is spot on.
    Yes, I’m working through that perpetual starter behavior and truly-in-a-meaningful-way-with-a-specific-goal finishing my novel, Bluebirds, in order to pitch it at the Chicago Writers Conference in September 2013. It’s right across the lake. Flights, hotels, finances won’t stand in my way. The only thing that could stand in my way is me. Afraid to fail, afraid to succeed, only my own personal brand of paralysis will keep me from achieving this goal, if I let it. And I won’t. With amazing mentors like Kristen and so many others on Twitter, and on Facebook, and in *real life* … the cautiously optimistic among my posse … with my wonderful business coach, Nancy Kaye, and my PR guide, AlissaSheftic.com, with my monumentally hopeful and supportive husband, and with Grampa making his feathery appearance from time to time, I cannot fail.
    Like a breathing thing, #Bluebirds has taken flight, and it simply must be. A starter no more. I’m growing up, and a finisher I will be.
    “Author Lynette Bower, six years into a battle with infertility, is wrestling with the idea of adoption versus continuing to fight her body to do what it’s supposed to do. Her husband wants her to stop all infertility treatments and pursue adopting an Asian baby. We meet her on the table, receiving her third and final in vitro procedure. As she’s about to leave, a chance meeting with a NICU nurse, who appears (and just as quickly disappears) suspiciously old-fashioned, puts her on a path to meet a terminally ill little boy who will change the course of her life and the way she looks at it forever.”
    http://www.WestCoastPosse.com/wcp-bloggage.html
    bit.ly/WCSnOL
    Kristen is very generously picking a winner a month to receive a critique from her of the first 20 pages of a novel, a query letter or synopsis, and I wish like heck that included a copy of her book, We Are Not Alone. It’s definitely on my purchasing wish list!
    http://www.amazon.com/We-Are-Not-Alone-ebook/dp/B003VD1EQC

  37. #39 by Kim Jorgensen Gane on February 27, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    OK, Kristen, I (and only about a kajillion others after #WANAcon) want to WIN the opportunity for you to critique my work! I reblogged it to my WordPress account, but that came out kind of weird (had NO idea all that would show up here, too–first time reblogging), so I’ve done it over on my main blog site, too, just to be especially verbose. I’ve now officially linked back to you, and mentioned your book, twice. Thanks for the incredible opportunity. Here it is, and I’ll be posting to Facebook, too: bit.ly/WjWDp3

  38. #40 by Dawn on February 27, 2013 - 7:22 pm

    Thank you, Kristen, for reminding me about how important it is to just keep pressing on. I feel I am currently at the “just kept blogging when it seemed no one was listening” stage with my blog. And, you know what? I’m starting to get some listeners. My local paper is picking up some of my pieces and publishing them (yay!), which not only helps bring me more readers, but adds to my credibility when I go out to interview people for future posts. Know what else? I’m really starting to have a good time with it! This advice was incredibly timely for me, and I’m bookmarking this particular post in my “important writing info” folder!

  39. #41 by ML Guida on February 27, 2013 - 7:54 pm

    I love Eye of the Tiger and the song motivates to keep me going. Sometimes I will take a break from a project and come back to it. When I come back to it, I look at it with fresh eyes and find both the strength and weakness in my wip. I do not abandon my project too long because if I did, it would be easy to ditch it and get hooked on the fun new idea.

  40. #42 by mummylovestowrite on February 27, 2013 - 9:13 pm

    Yep, I needed to read this. I am getting into the nitty-gritty of writing my novel at the moment, and then find my mind wandering….wondering if there is another book I should be writing. Grow up me.

  41. #43 by The Afictionado on February 28, 2013 - 1:14 am

    “New idea smell”. Love it–this is absolutely true and good advice every word!

  42. #44 by Mary on February 28, 2013 - 1:23 am

    Just the post I needed to read. I have a first draft that I need to start editing. Of course, I am amazed that I actually finished the story at all! But now to go back over it and edit it, just sounds daunting. I am avoiding it and I don’t want to end up with another half done and forgotten project. My life is a series of half completed projects, except for child raising. I did great on that! So thanks for the post. I needed to read that.

  43. #45 by mobi1974 on February 28, 2013 - 2:44 am

    …this post seems to be directed to my person. I am a chronic starter. Got file-loads of unfinished business. This post has really opened my minds eye to the truth that what is unfinished cannot be rewarded. I have remained unrewarded for not finishing.

  44. #46 by aknightwriter on February 28, 2013 - 2:55 am

    Ahh…. throw it out to the universe and Kristen comes to the rescue… thanks for this post – super timely for me, I have just finished a couple of short stories for upcoming comps, and if I am truthful, I side-tracked to complete these because I am at the ‘tying up loose ends’ part of my novel…. so it seems I entertained the three year old within, reached for sweet, colourful lollipop, and threw the sustaining, growth and renewal producing broccoli to the side!!! Bright and shiny has often derailed my ‘staying’ power… and you’re right when you say – grow up, get it done!!!

    I stumbled upon your blog over a year ago after searching for help with motivation (with regard to my writing). You seem to have a beacon straight to my stream of consciousness – often, just when I am struggling most, you’ll share something that is super relevant to my current dilemma and keeps me moving!

    The world does not reward starters – it really IS the easiest part, the kernel of an idea unfolding, and then the nurturing, feeding, watering and caring for that to its maturity (bit like parenting!!) whilst rewarding in the end, is HARD work!! To be reminded to slog it out, get it done has helped hone my focus, today – so much so that a chapter I have been avoiding reworking has found its way onto my screen and is almost done!!

    Thank you for the very eloquent kick in the pants… truly…

    Amanda

    Visit my thoughts, and my thanks to you at: http://lovesweetandsinister.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/muses-motivation-and-making-it-happen/

  45. #47 by Tracy Dion on February 28, 2013 - 4:06 am

    I love this whole series, but the last two installments really hit home. First, my interests are so varied and my enthusiasm for learning so strong that it’s a daily struggle for me to stay focused. I have to constantly ask myself, is what I’m reading / doing right now benefiting my primary goal (increasing CatCentric.org’s value to feline owners)?

    Second, I’ve started probably close to a dozen “ventures” over the years, and my family has regarded me with exactly the attitude you describe here (chord struck!). CatCentric is the first project I’ve sustained, and this past October marked the blog and website’s first anniversary (though I’ve been educating cat owners via other venues and personal consults for several years). There have been a few periods that saw me slacking off, but I’ve always come back to it and right now, I’m going strong.

    My current short-term goal is to establish and STICK TO a blogging schedule. I’m still a writing neophyte and really need to strengthen my discipline for writing when it’s time to write, and not just when I’m all fired up about a topic. ;-}

    Warrior Writers is a wonderfully informative and inspiring blog; thank you for all the work you put into it, Kristen!

  46. #48 by knotrune on February 28, 2013 - 8:30 am

    This is me. This is so me it has inspired me to resolve to make 2013 the Year of Finishing things! I resolve to finish more things than I start this year. I even wrote a blog post about it (and I linked to this blog!) http://knotrune.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/2013-the-year-of-finishing-things/

    • #49 by Widdershins on February 28, 2013 - 3:47 pm

      I like that. ‘The Year of Finishing Things’ … since this year began I’ve had this feeling that it will be a breakthrough year for so many of us . . . will revisit this on 31st December!😀

  47. #50 by Debbie on February 28, 2013 - 11:08 am

    Today’s blog topic was shared on FB by a RW chapter mate. It was a good article, but this is the article I was meant to read. I just finished a 50 day writing festival, making a solid contribution to my WIP. The temptation was to reward myself with an empty distraction which would certainly derail my forward momentum and likely undermine the new habits I’ve been developing. Thanks for pulling me back from that slippery slope.

  48. #51 by Sheila Englehart on February 28, 2013 - 11:39 am

    This answered my question from yesterday! Thanks.

  49. #52 by The Hook on February 28, 2013 - 3:29 pm

    A little Survivor never hurts, right?

  50. #53 by andreabadgley on February 28, 2013 - 3:35 pm

    Ha! I have two open starts on my screen right now, and 17 more just from the past two months. But you have inspired me, yet again, to go back and finish. I recently read in Priscilla Long’s “The Writer’s Portable Mentor” that “work never sent out is never finished.” So I’ve got two pieces I’m polishing, another piece I’m finishing, and a blog post in the wings for tomorrow. Busy, busy, but so much more rewarding to finish than it is to leave that half page hanging there, waiting for its exciting conclusion. Thanks for the kick in the pants.

  51. #54 by Widdershins on February 28, 2013 - 3:44 pm

    Kristen, it’s so nice to be able to ‘hear’ your voic enow when I read your blog posts, before the Con I could only ‘see’ it … and surprisingly your two voices sound very similar … not sure what that says about either of us!😀

    “My name is Widdershins, and I’m a Unfinisher!”

    I’ve been writing since I was a wee sproglet. I just never finished anything.

    t took me many years of struggling with all sorts of daemons to finally type ‘The End’ to a story.

    From that moment forward I called myself a Writer, and undertook my apprenticeship in this wonderful profession of ours. (still apprenting – just on different levels!)

    Might this series of posts be compiled into a book at some time in the not-too-distant future?

  52. #55 by Carolyn Paul Branch on February 28, 2013 - 4:14 pm

    The truth hurts.

    I am guilty of having five unfinished novels and a memoir that is almost, but not quite, done. I’ve had so much good feedback from contests, agents, and even editors, but when they ask to read the whole ms, I’m horrified and running the other way.

    I needed to read this. You wrote it just for me, didn’t you?

    • #56 by Author Kristen Lamb on February 28, 2013 - 6:03 pm

      I wrote it for ALL of us, me included, LOL. We all share a lot of common struggles, but WE ARE NOT ALONE!😀

  53. #57 by reachingthe30s on February 28, 2013 - 4:35 pm

    This post is so inspiring! I will surely read you again in the days to come. Good luck!

  54. #58 by tuathaderising on February 28, 2013 - 7:38 pm

    Thanks for a well-deserved kick-in-the-butt🙂

  55. #59 by Julie Glover on February 28, 2013 - 8:42 pm

    I can relate to your family’s reaction. I have had several jobs and did them well, but I was always coming up with a new career idea. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to be when I grew up…even after I was grown up. Four years into writing, I think my family now sees this is a goal I’m sticking with. But like any business, it’s taking time to hone my craft, get established, and see positive results. Thankfully, I get my inspiration by reading people like Kristen Lamb and Winston Churchill (“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never…”).

  56. #60 by jody on March 1, 2013 - 10:29 am

    Sigh, too true. I absolutely HATE the ms I’m working on right now. It’s dreary, really, really dreary. However, one time I heard Colleen Thompson say that if you don’t stick to it, you’ll be teaching yourself bad work habits. So, I’m trying to force myself to return to glare at my computer every morning. I’m getting pretty good at Spider Solitaire.

  57. #61 by ravensquillz2013 on March 3, 2013 - 8:39 am

    Just as everyone else has commented, I too really needed to hear this! With three books sitting in a pile in my office, un-edited and half sent as querrie’s …. I realize this demon has won for far too long! I look forward to following your blog and learning more, and I hope you do another contest as well! Thank you so much for your Finishing!🙂

    • #62 by Author Kristen Lamb on March 3, 2013 - 11:34 am

      I do contests every month😀. I work my tail off to help you guys because I do believe in you. I’m here to give you the tools you need.

  58. #63 by jeinglis on March 6, 2013 - 7:02 pm

    Reblogged this on Jennifer Inglis and commented:
    I love Kristen’s blog. Every day she writes things that make me think – not only about myself as a writer, but about writing itself. This was good for me to read, because I have to work hard to be a “finisher,” and I’ve been feeling very good about finishing my first book. Please be sure to check out her blog!

  59. #64 by David Erickson on March 14, 2013 - 10:01 am

    I’ve got a hundred stories wither started or plotted out. Sometimes I’ll build a scene and see it’s going to be a lot more than I bargained for, so it gets set aside. But I have finished 5 novels and 50-60 short stories. I wrote the next novel after collecting rejection letters and the next until I got one published. Now I’m dusting off the older works and editing for quality.

  60. #65 by bluestiggy on March 18, 2013 - 10:24 am

    I hear you, I need that. Love from the queen of procrastination x

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