When You Can’t Seem To Finish What You Start


I’m having a problem…

While I came close to meeting my writing goals last year in terms of time spent writing, I didn’t reach my goal of drafting something brand new.

For the first time in years I spent the entire year editing, as well as picking up an abandoned manuscript and (almost) finishing it. Throughout the year, I had no less than FIVE shiny new ideas. I made outlines, took notes, and started drafting all 5 of them.

But then, for whatever reason, I stopped. I moved onto something else, leaving me with 5K or fewer words done on each, and nothing finished.

This year I decided I was finally going to complete a draft of something. I picked one story, tentatively titled Dear Jude (it’s going to be an epistolary novel; I was inspired by this book and this one), and picked it back up. I just hit the 10K word mark this week.

… and suddenly I find myself losing motivation and wanting to pick up something else.


Usually when I feel the strong pull to temporarily abandon something, I follow it. It’s worked for me in the past, lead to three completed manuscripts I love, one of which I abandoned for almost a year before finishing it. But what happens when you suddenly realize you’re not finishing anything you’re starting?

I think it’s time to power through.

Sure, I just had an idea on how to improve the Paris story. I also visited a bookstore yesterday and hanging out in the fantasy section, I was reminded how much I like my fantasy/dystopia island story and wondered why I’d abandoned that in chapter two. Then I thought it might be easier in these sleep-deprived days to return to my more straightforward contemporary, as that’s the kind of book I’ve had the best luck at finishing fastest. Then I thought maybe I should just return to editing the first fantasy story. Or tinker with that other contemporary some more…

But no. I want a completed draft of something new. And the only way to get that is to keep writing this draft and see where it goes.

Usually the problem when I don’t want to keep working on something comes down to one of three things:

  1. I can’t figure out the voice
  2. I can’t figure out the plot
  3. I can’t figure out who my protagonist is and what she wants
  4. A combo of two or more of these things

I’m at #3, I believe. I can’t figure out who my protagonist is. I’ve decided to take a step back and really try and figure her out before moving forward with the plot. And hopefully that’ll motivate me to continue this story!

… then again, I may abandon it for something else midway through.

How about you? Do you always finish what you start?

Photo by Jan Kah├ínek on Unsplash

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