Finish What You Start…Eventually?

Forgive me writers for I have sinned.

I, after a lot of soul-searching, decided to shelve a work in progress, at least for the time being.

One of the most common rules in the deep and muddy mire that is writing advice is to finish what you start. While I am on board with this statement in theory, I’ve found myself unable, or more accurately, unwilling to follow it.

I was 40,000+ words into a novel that I’m very proud of. The concepts, characters and world I’ve built mean a lot to me. Within what I had written, I felt I had developed something that has to potential to be great. The problem was that I’d spent way too long trying to write the story in a way that lives up to what I know it could be. The foundation was solid and the tangled web of intrigue was well tangled but every time I tried to untangle those knots, my own reactions to those resolutions were lackluster. What would my readers think if I couldn’t even wow myself?

My motivation to write fell to near nothing. To top it all off, I had another story idea that kept begging to be written like a little annoying brain baby fussing for attention. The story planning  for this brain baby was such that I could start at any time but I was holding off until I finished my struggling novel. I was supposed to finish what I started. It’s the writer’s way.

Yet, another golden rule of writing is that you have to write… and I wasn’t.  I couldn’t motivate myself to lay down line after line of bullshit when I knew I would have to scrape it all back off when I finally found inspiration. I was frozen.

“Finish what thou start-eth”  was blocking “writer, thou shalt write” and I was left with a decision. Stick with the current project and continue to break both rules or sacrifice one to save the other. I chose sacrifice.

Here’s hoping it was the right decision. It feels right…so far.


  1. We’ve all been there. My projects typically get shelved because I find the next shiny new thing to play with. I also run into the situation where what is in my head is so much better than the words on the page, so I feel defeated and abandon the project.
    You honesty and willingness to determine what was hindering you is to be applauded. After all, it was only that Neil Gaiman guy who is so famous for telling us writers to finish what we start. What does he know? 😉


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