INSIDE THE ART, CRAFT AND BUSINESS OF WRITING for Film, TV, Books, Stage, Print or Digital Media (with Particular Attention to Comedy)

Finishing School (6 Problems That Are Keeping You From Finishing Your Writing Project – Plus Solutions)

My name is Greg and I am a done-aholic.

I love finishing, my own projects or anyone else’s. The joy of completion. The fun of being done. Again. Because of course you’re going to do another draft. But for now, done.

I think it’s really important to take a second and celebrate such a miraculous expression of your will. You’ve gotten this draft (or year) behind you. Good for you!

Oh wait, you haven’t finished yet? Well, there are probably very good reasons why.

1. The beginning just isn’t right yet. You keep working and reworking the opening. And it does keep getting better. Or does it? Guess what? The beginning can’t be right until you’ve gotten to the end because the end is what you’re writing towards the whole time.

2. You’re afraid it sucks. It probably does suck. You’re probably going to have a crappy draft before you fix it and make it into a good draft. Almost every first draft of almost every project needs a lot of work. Just remember to fix it before you show it to everyone in Hollywood.

3. You’re determined to just keep slogging through the wilderness alone. No one, not one writer I know (and I know a lot of them), writes without input from others. All writers have a peer, collaborator or advisor who will read rough drafts and offer feedback. When you’ve been working on a project alone for a while, Stockholm syndrome sets in and you lose perspective. That’s the nature of the beast. For god’s sake, phone a friend or trusted advisor.

4. You’re getting the wrong advice (or conflicting advice). Getting outside advice is especially delicate when you’re trying to finish a project. You need calm confidence and encouragement, not someone suggesting maybe you should rethink your whole concept. Take advice from someone whose work you admire, who works with people you admire and/or who really gets what you’re trying to do with your work.

5. There’s no deadline. Deadlines are like lifelines. In order to make yourself finish, you probably need a meaningful deadline, otherwise why not just keep re-writing forever? A meaningful deadline, btw, is a specific person waiting to see your piece at a specific time with a contingent reward or consequences. I actually know a writer who agreed to pay a friend if she didn’t deliver a draft. And I just want to say that I am totally available if anyone wants to use that system. Someone also recently suggested sending someone an embarassing story about yourself and making them agree to publish it online if you don’t meet your deadline. Short of that you can make a paid appointment with a coach – you’d be surprised how motivational that can be.

6. There’s too much pressure on the project. You’ve been working on this project (or talking about it) for so long that now it feels like it has to be the best thing ever. Remember that until you’re correcting galleys from your publisher or doing the production rewrite on a script that shoots tomorrow, nothing is ever Done. You’re just done again. And after the next draft you will be done again. And again.

I am available to help you take any creative project to the (next) finish line with private coaching. I work fast and deep, on the phone and online, and I’ve helped people…

• Shape a pitch
• Outline a script
• Finish a draft
• Rewrite a script
• Punch-up key scenes and dialog
• Find an agent

What can I do for you?

I’ll sugar-coat it if I have to, but I’ll tell you the truth about what it will take to finish a project. I’m not in the false-hope business, but I am super encouraging. I believe in the power of creative expression to change the world and I can help keep you motivated and keep you and your project on track.

E-mail or call 323-717-4731.

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This entry was posted on December 5, 2012 by in Creative Process, Writing Strategy and tagged , , .
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