“You Must Finish What You Write.”

The second of Heinlein’s Business rules for writers states that “You must finish what you write.” And that’s always been a problem for me. My life is littered with incomplete writing projects I will now never finish. And my life since childhood has been full of unfinished things. “You never finish anything!” my parents would say. Maybe it’s the Asperger Syndrome?

Feeling guilty about not finishing has not helped. White-knuckling my way through— forcing myself to go back to writing projects and finish them— has not helped. Believing I am destined to ‘never finish anything’ has really not helped.

What does help is looking at the stuff I can and do finish. I have finished poems— short poems anyway, not long epic poems or series of poems. I can also finish blog posts— in fact this is the second blog post I am writing this day, and I have every expectation of finishing although I have to break off in a minute to yell swear-words at some cats. (Tomorrow is Lent so I have to get the swearing out of my system today.) But I know I will get back to this post, finish it and post it. (Update: See? I did it!)

OK, so I have two kinds of writing I know I can finish. What I am trying to do now is create a little longer writing project that is similar to writing blog posts, but that will result in a short book— a short ebook anyway. It is about blogging— a topic I blog about here on this blog— and more specifically is for author bloggers who have blogs who are neglected and have few visitors.

My timeline for this project is 12 writing days. My word count goal is about 800 words per day. So far I have skipped a couple of days, and am 9 days in to the project. I am also starting to re-read what I have written to fix what needs fixing, I’ve also designed a book cover on Canva though I may have to tweak it if I modify the book name or tagline before publication day.

The problem is my long history of not finishing is starting to drag me down. I have started so many writing projects with high hopes and seen them bog down. To the point when I start a new novel or short story I feel that the odds are against my ever finishing or even getting to Chapter Seven.

What I am doing is tapping into something I can finish regularly— finish blog posts— and essentially turn a writing project into a short series of blog-post-like chapters. I set a time limit— a deadline— so it will have a finishing point.

When/if this works, I can use the same principle more or less for fictional…. But I probably should not blog about that or even think about that right now. My soon-to-be-finished book on curing blog loneliness is the only think in my universe right now (except cats to swear at and chickens/a goose to feed.)

Is finishing stuff a problem in your writing life? Has anything you have tried helped you? Are there writing things— like writing poems or blog posts is for me— that you can do, easy? Maybe you can use that to help you learn to finish other writing things— drop me a comment and let me know about your struggles and triumphs in finishing things.

IWSG: Following Heinlein’s Rules

Writers and would-be writers, since we work alone, crave rules that will promise success. Lots of people make up rules for writers— English teachers who have never published anything, or even written anything, wannabe writers who like to boss other wannabes around, people trying to sell writing classes or writer services or recruit writers to be victimized by a vanity press….

This is my monthly post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group: https://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/

The best rules for writers come from known writers who have actually written stuff, and made a living from writing. Robert Heinlein was such a writer— his science fiction is still read today— and he invented 5 simple rules for writers.

I have a book by Dean Wesley Smith about Heinlein’s rules. Smith is also a professional writer. He got that way by following Heinlein’s rules, he says. Smith has written over 100 novels and an unknown number of short stories, in his early career he was entirely traditionally published and has now gone indie, and I have actually heard of him and have some books he wrote on my shelf.

Heinlein’s rules worked, therefore, for Dean Wesley Smith, at least. Will they work for you? Probably better than writing advice from people who have never made a living at writing, who perhaps have never finished a novel or even a short story.

Here are the rules— Heinlein called them business habits:

1. You must write.

2. You must finish what you start.

3. You must refrain from rewriting except to editorial order.

4. You must put it on the market.

5. You must keep it on the market until sold.

Things are a little different today, as Dean Wesley Smith points out in his book. Putting a written work on the market can now mean indie publishing it. Keeping it on the market until sold can mean keeping an indie published work up, even if it doesn’t sell very well, instead of pulling all your work down because it’s ‘not good enough.’

As the ultimate Insecure Writer, I’m shy about submitting my work for publication, perhaps because of my Asperger Syndrome. Perhaps it’s just I am afraid of being judged by people who just don’t get me. But in keeping with Heinlein’s rules, I put up some of my work on Wattpad, and plan to do more there— a non-fiction work, and a new book of my poetry, both of which may become, in a longer version, at least Smashword ebooks and perhaps proper books (if I can figure out how to format for Lulu and how to afford a decent book cover.)

My Wattpad profile: https://www.wattpad.com/user/NissaAnnakindt

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