Are You A Starter or a Finisher?

Do you like getting started, or getting things done?

As we continue to hurtle through 2020, I am thrilled that so far this year I’m feeling excited and optimistic about writing again. I have no idea how long this will last, so I’m making the most of it while it does.

I think the momentum I gained during NaNoWriMo gave me a big boost, and as soon as I wrapped up my NaNoWriMo novel, I immediately started writing a new story. I’ve started writing two others since then. That means that since November I have written one full novel, and started three others. I’m definitely proud of that, but it did get me thinking that the ratio is slightly off. Shouldn’t I have a few more stories finished, or at least close to it?

And that’s just those I’ve embarked upon in the past three months. If I go way back to when I first started writing fiction, then my current portfolio looks something like this:
Finished novels: 2
Novels that I’ve started: 11

I should also be clear that when I say ‘finished’ I mean that I’ve written the first draft. I haven’t edited or even re-read them. So finished is a slightly loose term. But still.

What this tells me is that personally I think I am much more of a starter. I enjoy the thrill of coming up with a new novel idea and jumping into the opening few scenes. In fact, I’d almost say that I can’t help myself. When I get a new idea, I feel compelled to get started straight away.

Unlike other writers, I can’t seem to maintain focus on just one project at a time, and just crack on and get it done. Or, I should say that it’s not my natural style. I did manage it for NaNoWriMo, and yes, I did complete a 50k word novel. But it was a struggle. And by the end of that month I was desperate to write something else. And that’s exactly what I did; when December rolled around, I abandoned my existing novel, added an abrupt ending to round it off, and moved immediately onto my new project.

Now, I’m aware that if I ever want to publish a novel (which I do), I will need to finish one (properly) in order to do that. So it does make me wonder why I struggle so much to stay on one path. And after a lot of berating myself for simply being a procrastinator, or fickle in my work, I think I’ve realised it’s something else entirely.

As it stands, I write for me. No one else is privy at this stage, to my written work. And because I write for me, I write from a very personal place. I write stories that resonate with me, or have been borne out of my own experiences. And those experiences change on an almost daily basis, so in truth, it’s not surprising that I write so sporadically. Writing is, for me, a form of self care. I write to explore issues that are troubling me, or that I seek to understand.

I don’t write for an audience. I don’t have to consider what they may want from a character, or a story-line. I just have to think about what I want. It’s incredibly freeing, and it means there is no pressure from anyone to stick to one story. I can happily start a thousand stories if I want and it need not impact anyone but me.

I have to confess that part of me fears that would go away if and when I do get published. But I suppose that’s a problem I’ll have to deal with when it arises.
For now, I am comforted to know that there is a reason that I am a starter. But also that I can finish things too.

But that’s just me. How about you? Does any of that resonate? Which camp do you fall into? Do you, like me, love to dive into new writing projects with abandon? Or do you revel in the sense of achievement that comes from writing ‘the end’ and meaning it? Please let me know, I’m always keen to learn about how other writers do their thing, and there is definitely I lot I can learn from you all.

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