I spent most of last week pounding out today’s column, instead I got pounded. I couldn’t finish it and I don’t know if I ever will. It will remain tucked away on my hard-drive for a few months or a few years before I come across it one day and say, “Hey, why didn’t I finish that?” Then the words will flow.
But until then, all you get is this ramble.
Everyone in authority, from teachers to bosses to spouses, emphasize the importance of finishing what we start and who am I to argue against such a consensus?
Don't get me wrong, no matter what my wife says, I am not opposed to finishing things. Staying with a task to the bitter end takes you to levels you would never reach had you abandoned it.
Think of it like building houses, if all you do is dig basements, you will never become practiced in framing, sheet-rocking or trim work.
It is the same with writing. Creating an idea is one skill, crafting it into a finished product is quite another and you cannot have a finished product unless you, duh, finish.
But then there are weeks like this, when an idea simply will not mature, all the time spent tussling with it becomes time wasted.
The price you pay for sticking with a failed idea is what economists call an “opportunity cost”. Think of it as all the ideas you didn't explore, all the things that you didn't do, all the words you didn't write, all because you felt obliged to finish what you started.
But there is a higher cost to the nagging obligation to finish. Perhaps it is the highest of all: the cost of not starting something for fear you will fail to finish it.
As writers, our greatest gains come from failure. With all the rewriting we do, we learn more by things that don't work out than we do by the words that pop perfectly onto the page.
Face it, good writers become good because they practice and any writing is practice.
When I look at all the writing I have done, the unfinished vastly outweighs the finished - but I truly believe that the amount and quality of things that I have finished is dependent upon the number of things that I started and abandoned.
Starting things creates possibilities, it takes you in directions you wouldn't ordinarily go and the more things you start, the more likely you are to hit upon those rare ideas that pop perfectly onto the page.
So what is the point of this ramble?
It comes down to writing prompts and the challenge for today.
This week’s writing challenge: begin a response for each prompt offered by our GWE editors this week.
Don't feel obliged to finish.
Don't feel obliged to post.
That is all you are obliged to do.
Last week’s writing challenge: write a comedy about a park, a policeman and a pretty girl, drew the following responses:
Weekly reminder:don't forget to recommend an article that you like (to learn why, read Ann Marcaida's article Attract More Writers and Artists to Gather!).. Also try to place a comment on at least one article and say more than you liked the piece. Tell the author what worked and what needs work.