I used to be terrible at finishing things, especially writing. In November 2015 I agreed to do NanoWriMo with a friend. I was driven, and because I was teaching as my only source of income I had more time than I have in the past (the IT industry is a beast that wants your heart and soul). I finished the damned thing, 50,000 words. Not bad, I think I spent less than an hour a day writing.
Of course the book wasn’t very good. There are a lot of reasons for that. At the time I thought that the speed I wrote it at was the main one. I’m discovering now that this isn’t true. It was lack of practice. I’ve written a fair bit in my life, but not complete stories. This was my first finished longer piece (I think my previous record for finished story was around a thousand words – apparently I can finish flash fiction reasonably easily). Since then I have finished a number of short pieces, and a slightly more than 4,000 word short story. Writing a thousand words of decent fiction a day is easy, really, really easy. All I have to do is sit down and write.
One thing I’ve always heard sets the pros apart from the amateurs: writers block isn’t real, it’s something you work through by simply writing. Now that I’m doing that I’m finishing stories – all the time. I have a second novel that is well over 30,000 words in, although I did put writing it on hold to revise the first one. The ideas are still there, but I needed to get A Long Walk put to bed. Now, I have been reading Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith, and I believe in what he says about not revising, but I started this set of revisions before I read that. It’s generally good advice, fix the mistakes and move on, write something else. My first draft though, it was done with no real idea what I was doing, and my current draft is much more what I want it to be. I think the biggest mistake is to try and make the story someone else’s idea of what the story should be, and I’m not doing that with this revision. I’m actually just making the story what I originally wanted it to be.