Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Don't be in a hurry to finish

Each time I've worked on a novel, I've experienced an impatience many of us may be familiar with. We are reveling in the worlds of our characters and their stories and wish other people were already there with us. We want to hold the finished product in our hands, admire the lovely covers, breathe in the wonderful new book aroma and visit Amazon to find out if any reviewers have had anything to say.

When I finished work on my most recently published novel, Best Forgotten, I was quite surprised by something I never expected to happen. I quickly started missing it all. While I was taking my well-earned break from writing, I discovered that I really wanted to be nutting out scenes, dreaming about characters, making my own editing slashes along the way and building up piles of A4 paper. I wanted to be shuffling scenes around and deleting waffly parts of the story. I realized the whole process means far more to me than just necessary, busy-work to achieve an end result. Fiction writing really is a rewarding and valuable activity during every stage of the process and when I don't have a current manuscript to keep my imagination occupied for months, I hate it.

Currently, I am about 50 000 words into a new project, Along for the Ride. A few days ago I found myself filled with that impatient excitement to have feedback from others already. I reminded myself that this 'quiet' stage is valuable. People may not be hearing much from me about new book releases or launches but that doesn't mean I'm just sitting idle around my house. This is the stage where my mind is ticking over with events and dialogues which my fingers are racing to record and keep up with. Whenever that impatience creeps up on me this time, I'm reminding myself that I'm enjoying every moment.

Is anybody else in the middle of a long-term project which you're finding a bit of a drag? It might be a novel, a study degree, a home or garden project or some enormous art or craft. Maybe it's some sort of outreach mission which never appears to be making much of a difference. Do you ever hear yourself grumble, "I can't wait until this is finished," or something like that? I encourage you to enjoy every moment of the hard work you devote to it, because you'll never have those creative moments back again pouring energy into a long-term project larger than yourself is an exhilarating thing to do.

Paula Vince is a homeschooling mother and award-winning novelist from Adelaide, South Australia. She has written a fantasy/adventure trilogy for young adults along with four romantic dramas with elements of suspense and mystery.


  1. When it comes to some of those bigger projects (like a scrapbook from our 2010 US holiday), my problem is just getting started...

    When it comes to work, I like getting finished, because that means I can send the invoice.

  2. Paula, thanks for your encouraging post :) I'm in the middle of a nonfiction project and the end is finally in sight. I need to reach a certain point with this project before I can spend more time writing my new romance novel. I'm gradually learning the art of juggling multiple projects :)

  3. Ohmyword you are sooo right! Soooooo right! I'm smacking myself in the forehead now for goodness sakes! I find myself driving along and then it hits me that I just need to write the darn thing and I'm ready to do it. And then I sit down and I twiddle my thumbs and then get angry because it's not being written. but there is such a ...loss? when you're done. Good call!!!

  4. Understand the feeling so well! Right now I'm into 5 minute radio segments. I have mixed feelings. The responsibility weighs and I'd like to be finished. But I'm also enjoying writing them...crazy,huh?

  5. Exactly what I needed to hear today as I have been working on a novel and thinking but if I add those ideas in it changes it and will require much more work. Still true but will make it richer I suspect. Same goes for the nonfiction project I am working on. I just have to keep plugging away till it is right, no matter how long it takes.Never dreamt when I started it , it would take as long as this.Plus I need to update my website.That's Saturday's job.