Over the weekend I wrapped up two big client projects. It felt good to get them finished and be able to call it done. And it got me thinking about finishing.
If you’ve ever actually finished something–and by finished I mean, gone all the way until it was DONE and then hit “publish” and put it out into the world (if that’s applicable)–you know the feeling that comes with it. That feeling of YES! I did it! And it’s DONE.
The sense of relief that you’ve not only finished, but you’ve freed up much-needed mind space. You can officially stop thinking about it because it’s done.
You don’t have to worry each day how you’ll get it done or spend wasted energy procrastinating or putting it off.
You just got it done, it’s finished–for real–and you can now take a deep breath before moving on to the next thing. Because there’s always a next thing.
Now some projects can’t ever really be finished, the nature of it doesn’t have an end in sight. Like blogging. You never really finish blogging. You may finish a blog post or finish a week of working on the blog, but there’s always something else to do. A blog is a living, breathing project that requires constant attention and maintenance.
It’s perfectly fine for a writer to have one or two projects that never end. For me, that means my blogging. There’s no end to it unless I consciously decide to stop.
But with other projects–books, short stories, songs or whatever else you’re working on–there’s an endpoint. There’s a point where you can actually call something done. It’s published. It’s out in the world where it can be read and enjoyed by others.
Along with procrastination, finishing tends to be one of the biggest hurdles that writers and creatives face. Because it’s easy to start projects; to pick up a new hobby or begin yet another story.
But finishing said project or said story?
Harder. And for some, MUCH harder.
Because if you’ve never actually finished anything before, you haven’t yet built the habit of finishing. You just keep on starting stuff and working on it, but you never actually get to the point where you can call it done.
Now done means something different for each writer and each project. Some projects require more time than others, and some writers need more time to work on and process stuff than others do.
But either way, you have to eventually get to a point where you’re done. Where you’ve finished and you no longer have to work on that project.
It’s out in the world.
Becoming a finisher is a super important thing for every writer and creative person. If you’re not a finisher, you’ll always be starting things, but never having the satisfaction of getting it done.
And then you’ll always be a hobbyist.
One of the biggest differences between a pro and an amateur is the pro finished. That’s what makes the person a pro.
Finishing is the line in the sand. It’s what separates the successful from everyone else.
Pros have created a habit around finishing. They don’t drag projects out forever and they don’t spend years and years of their lives revising and rewriting and editing and fixing things up.
They get the project done to the point where they’re happy with it and don’t feel there’s anything else they can do to make it better, and then they call it done. They hit “publish,” put it out there and then take a short break before moving on to the next project.
Or sometimes they don’t even take a break. They just jump right to the next thing and get started (although I highly recommend celebrating the success of finishing in some way).
And the more projects you take on and get finished, the better you’ll get at determining when “finished” is and being able to cut yourself off from continuing to revise or rewrite and calling it done.
Being a finisher is a habit. One that you build as you take on projects and actually finish them.
But if you’re never actually finishing anything, that’s a huge problem.
You won’t be able to transition from amateur to pro status if you don’t learn how to finish. If you don’t figure out how to be discerning and how to make decisions from the gut on when something is done.
That transition, from amateur to pro, is major. It’s everything, really. Because the whole point of being a writer is to be read.
But in order to be read, you must finish.
Dream life or bust,
P.S. Are you ready to FINISH your story? Ready to finally work through that revision you’ve been putting off–or getting stuck in–for months and maybe even years? Then mark October 16 on your calendar and get ready! I’m hosting a revision workshop with Editor, Sarah Fox, called Revise Your Damn Novel. Five weeks of focused revision time to get your draft into a more final state, so you can either hit “publish” or finally send it off to an editor for feedback. Doors to this workshop open on Monday, October 9. Stay tuned for more details as the week goes on…