There must be something in the air: I’m in the mood for finishing things. I just finished writing a novel after a mammoth three years – and just finished the latest Euroscript Screen-PLAY Summer School with a group of energetic and committed screenwriters – a slightly shorter but no less intense three days.
Suddenly I find I’m finishing all kinds of little things that have been hanging around too, from ordering a replacement strip light to mowing the lawn (well, I will soon).
I have enormous difficulty finishing at times. At other times, it all seems to come together naturally.
Of course, there are good reasons for not finishing. The act of creation can be great fun, and addictive. Finishing and letting go can be scary. Playing with the words on the page is a wonderful distraction from real life. Also, we perfectionists are never satisfied. There’s always something to correct, an improvement to seek out. That little critical voice in our ear. That feeling that we can do better.
Some say it’s better to travel than to arrive, but sometimes it’s good to arrive too. I used to jump from one script to another, leaving a trail of unfinished projects. But actually you only really know your story when you get to the end. And you can only send it out then too. Finishing is a crucial part of the job.
There are a few tips that people give to help you finish.
One is to finish some small easy tasks first. You start to feel good about finishing these and build confidence to finish something bigger.
Another is to give yourself a reward when you finish each stage – a certain number of pages, say, or a big scene.
These are all good, and yet sometimes with a very important project we need even more motivation to help us let go.
If you’re having difficulty finishing a major piece of work, I recommend stepping back a moment to remind yourself why you are writing it. What effect will it have? Who will it help, benefit, shock, make laugh, cry, think?
Like Zen Archers, think beyond the target – beyond the finish.
Because, until it’s finished, none of those things can happen, can they?
Meanwhile, I really must go and mow that lawn.