I’m great at starting projects. It’s like starting a new adventure. And there’s nothing I love more than adventure.
But….well, I’m less than stellar at finishing things.
Years ago, I was in a thrift store looking in the craft section. I came across a large Ziploc back filled with folded fabric with an 80’s sewing pattern painstakingly pinned to it. Someone, somewhere realized they were never going to finish that nifty 80’s plaid dress (which might not be a bad thing), folded it up, put it in the bag, and let it go.
Oh, this is me! There are too many projects I’ve had to let go because I didn’t finish them. (And many more that I hold onto thinking that someday, somehow I’ll manage to finish them.)
Lately, this idea of becoming a better finisher has been on my mind. So, I turned to my brilliant friends for some advice. I asked them, “How do great starters become great finishers?”
#1: Recognize the things you DO finish.
“I think many of us (the “so many ideas!” people or the “I need variety!” people) buy in to this perception that we just don’t finish things and we tell ourselves that all the time. But guess what? We do finish! We finish brushing our teeth. We finish eating breakfast. We finish each day. We finish lots of tasks and if we start giving ourselves credit, maybe we’ll stop running the old lines about not being able to finish anything.” –Julie Pullman
I love this! I do finish things, dangit. But because I haven’t finished some things, I tell myself that I’m just not a finisher. I buy into this idea that this is the person I am. And that’s a bunch of stinky baloney, if I’ve ever smelled some. (And boy have I ever. One time one of my boys got sick after eating old baloney. That kid probably won’t ever touch that mystery meat again.)
#2: Make achievable goals you can actually finish.
If you’re making your goals too big and impossible then you’re setting yourself up for failure. And you’ll keep believing that lie, that you’re not good at finishing. (When the truth may be you’re just not good at making goals.)
“For me, it’s all about planning and setting goals. It’s easy to get bogged down in the nitty gritty details and feel like you’re not moving anywhere. If I break my project up into smaller goals it helps.” Terral Fox, founder of Unshoes
“Yes. One step at a time. I just focus on one scene or chapter, one smaller piece of a bigger goal. If you focus on what you can manage the task will get finished!” –Cindy Fowler
#3: Keep yourself motivated.
· Make a poster of inspiring quotes.
· Create a Pinterest board for your novel. (Here’s mine!)
· Read inspirational books about writing.
· Get support from other writers.
· Track what you’ve accomplished.
· Reward yourself for accomplishing milestones and goals.
“I make lists and have little rewards.” –Jennifer Moore
“I give myself little rewards. Like if there is a book I *really* want to read, I don’t let myself read it until I’m done with said project.” Cortney Pearson
#4: Tell others your goals.
Make yourself accountable to others.
“Deadlines that are upheld by other humans. We can be terrible at motivating ourselves but it is amazing what we’ll do to save face with someone else.” –Keith McIff
#5: Establish a new discipline or schedule.
If you really want to become a finisher, you’re going to have to make changes. One of my favorite quotes is, “If you want something you’ve never had before, you have to do something you’ve never done before.”
“Discipline. A new routine takes a while to establish, and then becomes comfortable. During the time of establishing, you have to be strict with yourself.” –Sarah Dunster
“Lists, lists, lists. And no internet.” –Krista Jensen
“A daily list of things to accomplish on that goal, on each day.” –Linda Boyden
“I’m just stubborn–so that probably isn’t transferable! But breaking a big project down into manageable parts and making a list of things to check off helps me a lot.” –Rosalyn Eves
“Unplugging the Internet seems to work for me.” –Dennis Gaunt
#6: Forgive yourself for past mistakes, for failed goals, for missed dreams.
Stop dwelling on what you should have been able to finish. And just start finishing!
“It really is hard to keep at it, sometimes. It really does come down to one foot in front of the other, or, rather one word after another. Dogged determination is sometimes required, since quitting is often an easy out.” –Kelly Ramsdell Fineman
“Just do it! I know it’s a shoe commercial, but it works for me. I’m a straightforward person and I like this straightforward message. All the mind games in the world won’t help me get the job done, I just gotta sit down and do it.” –Julie Daines
Erin Shakespear writes middle grade fantasy full of quirky creatures, magic, and strange adventures. With six kids, her days are full of quirky creatures, magic, strange adventures, and…loads of diapers. She also likes to dabble at photography, and pretending she’s a grand artist.