Tuesday 17 October 2023: The art of not finishing

Image by Piyapong Saydaung from Pixabay

Well, I call it an ‘art’, but really, and as I was reminded in my Zoom class last week, not finishing things is a very bad habit, and I am clearly getting into a Very Bad habit. I have all of these good intentions and I plan them all meticulously in my diary and then… I don’t finish any of them. Some of them, I don’t even start. I’m not sure which is worse.

What is clear is that something needs to be done about this very bad habit I have got myself into. The question is, how?

I’d start with a good look at yesterday, but yesterday was a bit of a sickie. Yes, I wrote yesterday’s blog. Yes, I did a few household chores that are usually neglected. I shared the gig list. I shared yesterday’s and Friday’s posts to all the various social media platforms. I removed some older material from Medium. I gig-wrangled via text for Monkey Dust. I moved all the rest of yesterday’s jobs to today. And I read. A lot.

But I didn’t do any actual work. Today, I thought, would be better. But all I’ve done today is remove all of the due dates from everything on my calendar. Everything. Well, everything that isn’t actually due in today or this week. That’s quite a few short stories, a writer’s guide, and two novels (or one novel and a novella).

I’ve pretty much wiped the slate clean with the intention of tackling, and finishing, one job at a time. But only for now. I do usually enjoy juggling different projects.

The only jobs I’ve left on the list are:

  • the Vietnam book (it’s taking far too long and could well be the crux of it all)
  • the new client edit that came in at the weekend (it’s very short) (and very well-written)
  • The Secret of Whitehorse Farm (my next NaNoWriMo project)
  • usual daily/weekly admin jobs (blog, gig list, band admin, tech maintenance, etc)

This week I have my tax return to do as well. (It’s due in at the end of the month.)

I do think it’s the big book at the top that’s blocking me. It’s not only a big book as in the number of words/pages. Every single line needs work. Every. Single. Line.

There are also two short stories I really, really want to try and write:

  • A Winter Promise
  • A Midsummer Crime Dream

The first is due in on 31 October, the other is due in on 30 October, and while I can probably adapt an existing idea for the crime story, I’ll be writing the Christmas story from scratch. Neither is essential, other than to prove to me that I can indeed start and finish something. And anyway, I’m supposed to be a writer, right?

The anthology publisher for A Winter Promise had a dragon story due in at the end of October too, but they’ve moved that deadline to the end of November now. I shouldn’t really be looking at extra work during November when I have a 50,000-word novella to write. But I am really keen to have something in one of these anthologies. I think they’re lovely books and it will look good on the credit at the front when I publish it myself later.

This morning I managed to join in with the People’s Friend writing hour on X, then afterwards I went through and continued deleting a lot of my historic stuff from there. It might seem like a time-waster to do that, but while I was mindlessly hitting the delete key I actually got into a bit of a rhythm, thinking about my work and what to do with it.

I think the main thing is to get that big edit done and off my desk. So that is my first priority. As a break, in between, I’ll do the dream of a story. Those are both client jobs and, therefore, should both be done.

For the rest of it, I need to quit whining and get on with it.

3 thoughts on “Tuesday 17 October 2023: The art of not finishing

  1. I also find if I micro-plan and overschedule, I resist doing the actual work. Add to that, as I age, I can’t keep up the pace I used to. At this point in the game, for me, it’s about stripping back the schedule as much as possible, and then seeing what else can fit where without feeling like it’s too structured. The older I get, the less structure I want in my work day, and the less I structure it, the more I actually get done.

  2. I agree with Devon. The only problem is that without some structure the day just flies by and you realise nothing has been done.
    I think many of us are in this situation. 🙁

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