“Finishing is better than starting.” Ecclesiastes 7:8
Um, yeah! I’d even go as far to say that finishing is freaking awesome while starting, well, isn’t awesome at all.
I’m nearing the finish line with my third book in the Delilah Duffy series. Sea-Crossed has been forever coming, it seems. I’ve written it. Rewritten it. Edited it. Reread it. Handed it over to Joe. Edited it again. Reread it. Handed it back to Joe. Edited it again. Reread it. And now, hopefully this week, it’ll be off to the professionals for cover and formatting. From there, it’ll most likely be smooth sailing into the published port, and I’ll be able to take a deep breath and let it go.
Whew! Cue relief and celebratory dancing!
Simultaneously though, I’m at the starting line again with the next book in the series. So this grand relief of finishing one thing is kinda tainted by the start of something else. And for writers, there should always be something else waiting for its chance to make the page.
But, still. Even though there may be a backlog of books to write, it’s not as easy as opening up a new document and writing Chapter One.
Starting is difficult. It’s the first step of a million in front of you and you wonder where the energy, ideas, hours, determination, commitment, enthusiasm, revelations, even the very words will come from. How will it get done - it's a mystery?
It’s at the beginning where the excuses flow fastest. Hesitations become delays. Words don’t come because there are so many ahead. Finishing is better than starting because starting is daunting. And things that are daunting, we want to delay or put off or skip entirely. It’s easy to put off the start of something you haven’t invested in yet, easy to put things on hold for the sake of well, anything - a break, a distraction, lack of good ideas, a blog post :), a casserole, a rainy day, whatever.
But, writers can’t stop writing. To do so would mean breaking the writing habit and this is never good. So crossing the finish line just means starting a new race. Immediately, if not sooner.
When I was a part-time writer, lulls between stories meant filling up notebooks with ideas. I took notebooks with me wherever I went so that I could jot things down in spare minutes. A rough outline would form, and the story would take shape. Then, I’d begin the formal writing when I thought I had enough material.
Now that I’m a full-time writer, I have the luxury of having multiple projects at once. So, while Joe is rereading Sea-Crossed, for example, I’m already knee-deep in my next book - not Delilah Duffy, but something different. I think it’s easier to have multiple projects going if they are separate entities. That way my brain gets time to rest and brainstorm my next Delilah Duffy without sacrificing general productivity. And productivity is key.
The trick is not to delay, to keep the writing momentum going, to keep working. This is no time to wait for lightning to strike, the reviews to come in, the muse to hit you upside your head with the perfect word or idea.
Because, like it says just two pages over from “Finishing is better than starting” in Ecclesiastes 11:4 “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plan. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.” And, writers who don’t start, don’t finish anything.