Finish What You Started

With creative people, there is always this great temptation to move onto the next thing. We are chest-deep in a project, paddling for slow progress, and we suddenly think of some startling concept which is just so much better. Of course, whether it actually is better is debatable, but at the lightning bolt moment of inspiration it certainly seems it will be.

My advice, hypocritical though it is, is to hold fast and keep wading. If you abandon a project you will almost certainly never go back to it. It will remain an unfinished wreck, and ultimately, a waste of time. Pushing to the finish line is hard. There are moments when you finish a novel or a short story and want to pick up the pen and immediately start on the next, but you shouldn’t. Wait, collect your thoughts, and then go back and edit the last story you wrote.

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I’m guilty of this sin more than anyone. I finish a novel and then abandon it to work on the next thing. It is only when I remember it needs to be sent out to a publisher that I realise, with horror, it has not been edited. What then follows is a painfully slow process of re-familiarisation and clumsy editorial which eats into my creative time. Follow the master Stephen King’s advice: finish a book, wait 6 weeks, then edit it. Don’t let other projects pull you away. It’ll lead you to a standstill.

Finishing what you started will not only have the benefit of making you a more efficient writer, but it will also give you immense emotional satisfaction. We all want to ‘finish’ things. To get a project done. To not have to worry about it anymore.

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Recently, I finished some unfinished business. I have a confession that will shock the gamers amongst you: I never completed the original Resident Evil. I was perhaps too scared, too young, too incompetent to do it. So I never found out the end. Later, I did of course, availing myself of the wonder that is YouTube. Still, all my articles about Survival Horror and how much I loved it are based on this tremendous, unforgivable lie. I’m a fraud. Sure , I completed many Survival Horror games after Resident Evil, but it still felt like I was pretending.

So, when Shinji Mikami, the creator of the Resident Evil series, returned from hiatus to do The Evil Within, I knew it was a kind of second chance. I had to play the game. I had to finish it.

And when I did, it brought with it the most gloriously satisfying sense of redemption.

So, that’s my advice and story for today. I hope it helps you! If you have any comments or questions please feel free to post them below.

Thanks for reading this article (and confession)

Follow @josephwordsmith for more

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