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Monday, 20 January 2014

FINISHING WHAT I START


I was at a loss yesterday, looking blankly at my screen, awaiting for inspiration to hit me hard enough to propel my fingers into action. A first line appeared, as if by magic, and then an entire paragraph. Great, I thought, here we go.

Then...nothing.


No worries, I'll just start another. But then, as I saved the paragraph I had managed to pen, under 'first paragraphs' (imaginative I know) I realised I had ten of them. Some had even got to three, four paragraphs in length before the abandonment.

Why can I start something but never seem to finish it? All these ideas float around in my head, and I am forced to write them all down - because you never know when an idea may become a fully fledged story - and yet, there they lie - in a folder- unfinished. 

I think it can be invaluable to have a folder of first lines and first paragraphs in case inspiration isn't flowing. But at that moment, sitting at the dining room table, none of those 'firsts' were inspiring me or propelling me anywhere other than to the chocolate stash
(which sadly isn't as highly stacked as my abandoned paragraphs).

I did some searching, soul and otherwise, and found  This advice. Ah-ha, yes this was what I needed. A little direction. All in 5 easy steps.

Step 1 is clear enough - Stop starting new projects. So for me, that is stop writing new paragraphs. (Really difficult actually). 

The rest of the steps may be self explanatory, but I found it really helpful to follow them and it kept me focused. 

After all the steps were completed - guess what? 

Ta-da - a fully finished short story. 


Then I got cocky and repeated the process with another paragraph. Only eight more to go...

Then I can start my collection of first paragraphs again :)

Does anyone else have this problem? How do you overcome it?


8 comments:

  1. I'm better if I go through a list of 'to-dos' rather than have lots of projects on the go. So although I've only written one brand new story in 2014 - low output I know! - I don't have the blank page problem all the time because of edits, re-writes, submissions etc. I collect first lines too but hadn't thought of paragraphs. A way to solve the problem may be to go back to another story you want to change or polish so you don't feel you're wasting valuable writing time until inspiration strikes!. Liked the link.

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    1. Thanks Jan. Must admit I'm not great at re-writes, if the piece has been rejected by one market, I don't seem to be able to adequately change it to fit another market, I usually dump it- I might try harder this year!

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  2. I have never left a story unfinished. I finish one before moving on to the next. A lot of my stories start from just a first line.

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    1. Oh Wendy, that must take some real focus and determination - or that you are just too good :)

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  3. I have a collection of rubbish short stories that I hoped would work themselves out with rewrites and a dose of inspiration. Some began as a paragraph and didn't get any further, others were whole stories that were never good enough to send to a publisher. They're all filed. I will surely come back to them one day. Sometimes a break can help and when you revisit the idea 6 months later, you can see what needs doing - that perhaps you couldn't see before.

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    1. That's reassuring to know Susie! I've only been writing these seemingly endless 'paragraphs' since October, so perhaps once the 6 months is up, I'll try your idea of going back to them and seeing where they might take me. Thanks! :)

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  4. I have lots of stories at different stages. I think that's only a problem if none of them ever get finished. Most of mine do eventually.

    Having a file of part finished stuff is better than letting your good ideas slip away, isn't it?

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    1. I suppose it is better to have some part finished things rather than let a good idea go to waste, I guess there is always time to go back and finish off works in progress. Its just for me, by the time I go back to it, I have lost 'it' and I don't have the skill to resurrect it and take it somewhere worth going! Perhaps as I continue to write, and learn, different methods will become workable for me. Or I hope so anyway :)

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