Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Finishing

Brigid Coady confesses to her personality flaws and shows how she overcame them. Well, sort of overcame them. It is a work in progress. And yes, some days no matter what she does she doesn't finish stuff. We are all human though aren't we?

There are personality type tests you can take which many companies use to make sure that they have the correct mix of personalities in a team for it to be successful. I used to work at a company that used the Myers-Briggs tests and it was always intriguing to see where you stood in terms of personality types. Were you a ‘chairman’ or a ‘plant’? Every one wanted to be the ‘plant’ because they seemed like the wild child of the team, the disruptive creative one who would think outside the box but could get annoying.

I always scored highly as a ‘team worker’ and ‘resource identifier’ – I always saw the ‘resource identifier’ as the gossip of the group. They are the ones who go off and find out information from the wider world. But there was one part that I always scored lowest on. In fact I think I took it once at the beginning of my career and I scored zero, that part was as ‘completer/finisher’. You always need someone who can carry things through to the end but I am not that person. I never have been.

My childhood was littered with half finished craft projects, sports and activities started and then faded away. I sometimes think I only finished my education because legally you had to and with University I was more scared of my mother than of finishing.

This does leave me with something of a handicap when it comes to writing. Luckily through work I have learnt to become a better ‘completer/finisher’ but it is not a natural thing for me to do. Which is why when it comes to writing I have to trick myself into finishing things, it means it takes me longer to do things but this way they do get done. It is a question I think of building your stamina. I am a rush at things sort of a person and that means I have lots of energy at the beginning but when the hard slog starts I have worn myself out.  One of the ways I have learnt to get around this is to take time to plan. I let myself have the wild crazy run at a writing project but as I can feel myself run out of steam I sit back and start making a plan of where it will go. Suddenly the energy returns when I can see a glimmer and off I go again.

Other times I stop myself from running full pelt at a new idea and force myself to look at it carefully and see if it can be finished. Some stories aren’t long enough for a book. I learnt this the hard way.

But mostly I have learnt that if you want to be published you’ve got to learn to sit down and finish. Even if that first draft is a pile of something unpleasant. And once you’ve finished once you know you can do it again. Doesn’t make it any easier but at least you know you can do it. Of course finishing a first draft doesn’t mean you are actually finished. There is the editing, the re-writing and the polishing. That is when you bribe yourself with food, drink and DVDs. It is amazing what a good TV box set can do when used as a carrot.

How hard do you find finishing things? Or are you the type that has to have everything tied up in neat bows before they can move on?

Brigid is currently finishing revisions and NOT, I repeat NOT getting distracted by the shiny new idea she has had. She really isn't. Much.


  1. I'm with you. You'd think finishing might actually destroy my soul, it's that hard for me to do. I love the rush of new ideas, love the first scene, and adore the middle of the story. Anywhere I can keep throwing out leads, I love. When I have to start tying those leads off, progress slows to a crawl and I require headache pills, solitude, and vast quantities of tea(coffee, blech!). Finishing is hard.

  2. Well we are here to hold your hand when the going gets tough!

  3. Wonderful post!

    I see so much wasted talent out there and it breaks my heart! I know there are so many fabulous, talented, verge-of-success authors that just need to pick and stick. No matter how great the idea, or the beginning, or the seven disparate scenes written, everyone wants to read the finished book ;)

  4. Thanks Sherri!

    It is hard to keep going but I keep reminding myself of all the time I've already spent on it. One day...