What every writer knows about finishing

February storm on the pond

When I finish a writing project, I am swept away to a place where I can breathe deeply. Fresh air fills my lungs. I stretch my body and expand my mind to let new ideas flow.

Am I ever really done?

The thought of taking time off to celebrate doesn’t enter my mind. I am under the same spell as most writers. We don’t write by choice. We have to tell our stories. It’s a compulsion so ingrained, a pleasure so exquisite, it transfixes us. We gaze at the horizon and envision other worlds.

Unlike other professions, being a writer is a vocation, a passion, an honor. It’s a freedom to write what I think. The only limit is my imagination.

A clean sheet of paper is aΒ pristine blanket of snow. Full of Earth’s sweetness and possibility, it beckons me to keep writing. I open my mind and let the words pour onto the page.

I start anew.

Why do you write? What does finishing feel like? Are you currently working on any writing projects?Β 

This is a response to the Weekly Photo Challenge – State of Mind

108 thoughts on “What every writer knows about finishing

  1. Hi Susie. It is as Rich says, we are never quite done. I’m working on a chapbook (kind of) and as I trawl through very early poems I am compelled to rewrite the ones I don’t want to include but want to use as tasters.

    When I do publish here there is a whiff of anxiety, especially so when I have just been to readings with published writers. Is that the same for you?

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  2. It took me SIX years to write my debut novel, but I’d been writing 12 years before that and had finished three other books. With book #4, I felt like it was my strongest book so far, and I’d just taken it as far as I could. My author friends also confirmed, “It’s time.” I found the right publisher, and the rest is history. I’m hard at work at book #2 in this series, and OMG! It’s hard to go back to a blank page one, striving for 380 pages!

    Great to see you, Susie. How are your novels?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great to “see” you too!

      Congrats on your books! Do you plot point or outline? I don’t have a strict plan, but knowing where certain beats go helps me to keep up the pacing.

      I finished polishing my debut novel yesterday. I originally wrote it in third person and decided to rewrite it in first. It took five weeks, but I finally feel confident about it. Back to querying! In the meantime, I’m rewriting a screenplay and finishing another book. It all takes time, but I LOVE it!

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      • I WISH I was more of a plotter, but I’m really more of a pantster. With a new book, I usually only “know” my story up to a certain point. I outline as much as I can, desperately trying to get more, but at some point, I just started writing. The story doesn’t seem to reveal itself to me until I start typing away. I write as much as I can by myself…when I hit a wall, I start taking chapters to my weekly critique group. They REALLY help me find my story.

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        • It’s cool how we are all so different. I can tent pole a couple big plot point, but outlining stifles my imagination. I think my best writing comes when I start in one direction and then twist it in another. Being along for the ride is pretty dang fun.
          Your critique group rocks. I love brainstorming ideas.

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  3. “A clean sheet of paper is a pristine blanket of snow.” Aside from notes I have scattered here at The Grind all over my desk and one I punctured over the coat hook where my boss’s coat is hanging (“Remember: take home your iPad!”), my writing world is pretty paperless. Lately, Susie, I’ve been thinking about what I want to write next. I’m considering going long form, or I might just stick with blog posts and essays. Time will tell.

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  4. I write because I have an overactive imagination (always have) and have entirely too many stories and characters running amok in my mind. Being a perfectionist means a story is never complete to me, but the first book I finished “writing” felt incredible. I knew there was more work, but the main gist of the story was out of my head and I could mold and shape it however I needed or wanted after that. Currently, I’m working on a romantic comedy novella that won’t shut up. =)

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    • That sounds fantastic! Good luck with your novella. πŸ™‚
      After four years of editing, I am done with perfectionism. My desire to finish other projects is stronger. Thank God!
      Characters are funny that way. They will pester me until I type the words, “The End.”
      Now I’m ready for a new cast.
      Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Beautiful Prose My Friend πŸ™‚ You know I write because I crave it and love telling a good story πŸ™‚ I am curious, have an active imagination and let to unleash my creative side too. I am not quite as good at you in getting readers on the edge of their seats, however; I am practicing with each key stroke. I usually am on to the next piece of writing when I finish and sometimes have more than one piece going at a time. I have been really thinking about submitting a writing piece to see if I could get it published. I have not hit send quite yet.

    Happy Writing – thanks so much for the inspiration and support – it means so much to me to be a part of a supportive, friendly and loving blogging community πŸ™‚

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    • Go for it! You have nothing to lose and confidence to gain.
      That is so sweet of you to say! Writing suspense is one kind of genre writing. There are a lot of them out there. Thanks so much! I depend on our community too. I would blog if it was to the sound of crickets…
      Happy Writing to you, Renee!

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  6. I struggle to finish stuff as it never feels finished. After writing the third draft of a book last year and accepting that I had taken it as far as it could go my head felt quiet. It was really eerie and I hated the empty feeling followed by the ‘aghhh what next?’

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    • That is eerie. I write down ideas all the time so if I blank out, I can look at my list and say, “Oh, yeah. I remember now.” I’ve felt that way with blog posts, but I have enough books and screenplays lined up to keep me busy for the next few years. I need two or three of me. I started writing later in life so time is always nipping at my heels! Yikes!
      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

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  8. I write to process my life and to share my photos once in a while. It’s how I gel things together and make them concrete in my mind. So, quite selfishly, I write for myself, and quite happily, a few people happen to like to read it. Also, from time to time I like to share things I’ve learned in the hopes that it might help someone else.

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    • That’s a great reason, Coleen! Writing puts things in order. I’ve learned a lot about myself too. Mostly, that I will share just about anything that happens to me without embarrassment. πŸ™‚

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  9. Your response is infectious of your passion. To me, writing is like breathing. Yes, sometimes I stop breathing but it makes me so uncomfortable I choke on my existence. I am already writing a two part short story (Three Tamarind Trees).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Do something completely different. I was trained as an illustrator and always felt like I “had” to draw. I felt the same way as you. Then I started writing. I found my passion. That was only five years ago, but I can’t stop.
      Is there something else out there you really truly enjoy doing?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re so right about why we write. We really don’t have a choice, haha. I personally almost never feel like I’ve finished a project because there is always room for improvement. Deciding something is finished and ‘letting go’ of it is the hardest thing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is so true! I experienced this feeling after I completely rewrote my book in first person after many, many other rewrites. It took 6 solid weeks. I finally feel confident about it and plan to query again.
      Good luck to you! Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. Sometimes I think the hardest part is getting to ‘The End’ and stopping. πŸ™‚ Separate from editing and all that jazz … but knowing when to take hands of the keyboard and … stop.

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    • I’ve gotten to the end of my manuscript many many times and thought, “This is it!” Then I learned something new that would help and edited or rewrote. After several years, I think this is it. We’ll see! Good luck to you!

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  12. I love the photo, Susie. I’ve been doing a daily blog for over four years. I started with almost all writing and now have for some time been doing mostly photography. But either way, I do it because I feel driven to do so and because I enjoy it. Congrats on the book and good luck.

    janet

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    • Thanks so much, Janet! On to the next project…
      The funny thing about blogging is I never know what will resonate. This one blew up and I finished it in 30 minutes. Others take hours and get less views. They are all practice and worth it in that respect. I love to write and take photos!
      Thanks for swinging by the Wild Ride!

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  13. THAT picture, Susie!! I feel like I can crawl right into it and sit on the bench. Beautiful just like the words you wrote. You described a writer’s mind and world so eloquently, thus, you are one talented woman!

    I was working on a novel (and still work on occasionally) but it’s based on a real life family story and I find myself afraid to be too honest and reveal the secrets that would make it complete. I go back and forth and hopefully will let it flow.

    You have yourself a wonderful weekend! xo

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    • Thanks so much, Maria! It was a stream of conscious writing exercise. It was on my mind.
      Non-fiction is where I started five years ago, and quickly ended. I found fiction to be waaaaaaaaaaay easier. I can make up the characters and no one will be offended. Whew! When I publish my Boob Reports, they will be musings rather than a life story. I cracked a lot of jokes and surprised people during a pretty serious time. My brain is just wired that way!
      xo to you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • That’s exactly how I feel! You write so many blog posts on top of your projects. Amazing! I have to focus on my books and screenplays. Someday, maybe I’ll get some time off to crank out posts. I really love this short format.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!
      Creative people are very much the same. My son, who is a DJ and musician, and I talk all the time. We have very similar experiences. It’s all about finding your passion and going for it! I was trained as an artist and never felt like I do now. It’s all about making something out of nothing. Not everyone can do that.
      I will check out your blog and your music! Thanks for stopping by.

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  14. Duuuuuuuuuuude that is an AMAZING picture! I can’t believe that scenery was just around your corner. I love it! It’s awesome and so peaceful totally inspires me to meditate. Love the peace I feel when I look at it. As for the writing I agree I have all kinds of stories to tell, but I up guess I’m a little different when I finish something. I do a little happy happy dance, high five myself, add onto my gratitude jar and take the next day off go to the beach or do something to celebrate. Then I get back to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That scene was right through my kitchen window last week. Now it’s back in the 60’s.

      You get back to it and don’t take off weeks or months. It’s a compulsion don’t you think? It’s all about the creative process and the need to “make” something and tell a story. It’s so cool and addictive!
      I can’t wait to read your books, Guat. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is a compulsion. And you’re right, you can’t take too long a break because you’ll lose you’re rhythm … Like when a surfer loses their wave. But I’m on it! As I took an editing break On my novel, I didn’t quite take a break from writing … wrote a play…short ten-minute thing for a festival at a theatre downtown and it’s getting picked up!! Woo-Hoo for novel writing breaks like that and small victories. I’ll be able to see actors say my words. Definitely will post on it. And thanks for your energy and encouragement, writing buddies like you keep me going. πŸ™‚

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  16. I totally agree. I have to just force myself to finish one project before moving on to tell the next story. Then there’s all the editing and re-editing that happens in between, which creates more frustration in not being able to start that next story. But, start it I will.

    A fresh piece of paper is like a pristine blanket of new snow indeed. Let it snow!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    • Let it snow!
      That’s been the hardest part for me. I have several projects going. This first one HAS to be done. I can’t keep going back when there are so many other stories to tell.
      Thanks Patricia! Always great to “see” you. πŸ™‚

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  17. I feel like I could “tinker” with my words forever. But I know it’s time to let the story go when my tinkering is no longer improving it. I could spend forever just taking a word out and putting a different word in!

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    • I’ve read some essays that have been so overworked I didn’t know what the writer meant! I’m more of a Dan Brown writer. I just tell the story and keep moving forward.
      Good luck on your project, Jackie!

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  18. I write to free all of the thoughts that are tumbling around in my head all the time. It is relaxing, challenging and fun. I love seeing what others write about and their styles.

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      • Why is it that my best thoughts occur in the shower, when I am bike riding, etc. and there’s no way to jot them down? Good for the grey matter to try to remember, I guess. Happy Day to you from Oregon.

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        • My brother bought me a waterproof notepad for the shower. If I get an idea while walking, I dictate ideas using the microphone in “Notes.” That would be tough on a bike! Ha!

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  19. I’m always much more of a writer in my head than on the page, I imagine that I love writing, but then as soon as the writing gets hard, I switch to another project, I need more perseverance! My short attention span doesn’t help with the writing at all. Love the snow picture by the way.

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  20. True stuff, Colorado.

    Inspiration is everywhere and it’s all the time. It can come to you while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or when you’re ready to close your eyes and go to sleep and a loose thought forces you to turn on the light and scribble down the idea.

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  21. This rings very true. Last year was a year of a novel, three short stories, three feature scripts and three short scripts. Finally decided to give myself a month off, but damn it all if writing isn’t so much fun. I can’t wait to get back into it next month.

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  22. I feel like I’m constantly writing. Whether it’s here on my blog or my own private Gratitude Journal or writing a travel article for a magazine my mind never stops. Eek, which makes it tiring at night when I can’t switch off. Your photos are wonderful Susie.

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  23. At least with cartooning it takes between one to two hours from start to completion of a frame. Ah, but ideas seems to take forever sometimes but i hope the process is never completed for me.

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