Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Insecure Writer and Never Finishing



Today is April's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

Today, I'm co-hosting the IWSG, along with Hart Johnson, Candilynn Fite, Terri Rochenski, Clare Dugmore, and Lilica Blake!



Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 

Because I worry I may never actually finish a story.

Not because I plan on giving up writing anytime soon. I’m stubborn enough to keep plugging away at this writing stuff until I get it right. But I’ve just started my third story and I haven’t finished the first two yet. My first story was fan fiction (I bet you can guess which one) and I worked on it for over five years before deciding I should also work on something I could eventually sell. So a year ago, I started work on a MG fantasy, but after spinning my wheels for almost a year with the plot, I decided to shove the MG story to the back burner and begin yet another story. Fantasy, of course.

So here I am, working on or thinking about three different stories and hoping that at least one of them gets finished before the decade ends. Did I also mention I’m a slow writer? 

Sounds utterly disorganized, right? Yep, but that’s my style. I've never been happy working on just one project at a time. I read five or six books simultaneously, choosing to read whichever one I feel like at the moment. Even when I make myself stick to writing one story, I jump around, working on whichever chapter appeals to me on that particular day.

The point is, I hope I don’t end up becoming one of those writers who has a dozen partially finished stories stored on their hard drive and no completed ones to show the world.


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In keeping with this topic, I know someone who no longer has to worry about finishing her book -- because she's already done it! This week, fellow ISWG member Melissa Maygrove revealed the cover to her debut book, Come Back. If you want to support one of your fellow Insecure Writers, hop on over to her blog and show your support.

And one day, maybe you’ll be able to do the same thing for me....

ChemistKen

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About Melissa's book

Sometimes a single choice alters the course of a person's life forever.


Rebecca Garvey had the promise of a California future dreams are made of, until the wagon train her family was traveling with left her behind. Now she’s slowly dying in the wilderness, abandoned and stripped of her self-worth. Once the shock of her desertion turns to embittered despair, she doesn’t want to be found. Then a handsome stranger challenges her convictions and changes her mind.

Seth Emerson knows exactly what he wants. Working to save for a cattle ranch of his own keeps him busy and keeps his pain buried. Rescuing a stubborn woman from the hills of New Mexico Territory isn’t part of his plan—but she’s exactly what he needs.

Seth and Rebecca set off on a risky journey and a quest for truth, each healing the other’s love-starved soul along the way. Will they give in to their growing attraction?  Or will they honor their commitments when Seth returns Rebecca to civilization... and her betrothed?

97 comments:

  1. Ken, what's that old adage, the third times a charm? I read several books at a time just like you. But I can only concentrate on one wip at a time or I get mixed up. Good Luck getting it done.

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    1. As long as it doesn't keep sliding on to the fourth and fifth time. :) thanks for the comment.

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  2. My IWSG post is for you, then.

    Don't worry. If you ever give up, all us blogging buds will kick your butt right back to your computer. Hang in there. It'll happen. ;)

    Thanks for the shout-out. :)

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. Good luck with your book.

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  3. Just keep at it. It will get done. Much luck.

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    1. I will definitely keep at it. I'm not going to give up. I'm glad you stopped by.

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  4. You will finish. I'm a lot like you and I finished THREE! You will finish. Just keep at it.

    Melissa's book sound so good!

    Thanks for co-hosting today!

    Heather M. Gardner
    The Waiting is the Hardest Part
    Stormy's Sidekick
    Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Co-Host

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    1. Sounds great. How many books did you not finish before then?
      Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  5. Just think of those unfinished pieces as practice. Because we do need to write a lot before we become really good at it. When you hit the right point, you will finish one.
    Thanks for co-hosting today!

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    1. My pleasure, Alex.

      I was kind of hoping that the first five years I spent working on the fanfic would be enough practice. I'm still learning about how much more I need to learn.

      Delete
  6. YAY MELISSA! :D Ken, I actually think working on more than one project at a time is a great idea - that way, you can procrastinate work on one by working on another. It's the perfect way to trick your brain into getting stuff done! :)

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    1. That was my thought process too, until I started realizing that it could also lead to me never finishing anything if I don't keep myself focused. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  7. You sound like me. I'm always working on more than one story at a time. If problems arise with one, I work on another while my brain tries to figure out what to do about the first one. Usually, I read two to three books at a time too.

    Congratulations to Melissa.

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    1. Glad there's someone else who has some of the same habits. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

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  8. Hey Ken--fellow host here! I can offer some encouragement and a piece of advice to give a shot--the advice first--as when I have a meal I always like to leave the thing I like best as the last taste in my mouth. My first finished book (after literally dozens of starts, though only one as substantial as the 3 you have) was fan fiction and I think the reason it was pretty easy to finish was it was BACK-story (Eileen Snape's story--Snape's mum) so I knew how it ENDED. I learned that while I don't have to STICK TO my ending, I always need to write toward a plausible one or I get lost somewhere on the way.

    Now the encouragement--it gets easier. LOTS easier. And you will get at least a little faster (maybe a lot faster)--my first original book (not that the FF isn't a little, but you know what I mean) took 2.5 years and that was after 3 finished novel-length FF stories. NOW I take 1-3 months for a first draft (though I have a lot of editing rounds--it would take me about 9 for a fastest finished product and MY problem is getting myself to edit, so of 16 books in 7 years, only 4 are published)--You CAN!!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Wow! Well you're definitely a faster writer than I am. And I wouldn't mind editing so much if I felt like I knew what I was doing. So you're a great inspiration.

      I always need to know what my ending is when I first start, so I can relate. One of the problems I had with my MG fantasy was that it kept changing my mind what the ending was.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  9. I like to have several projects on the go at a time, so clearly I don't think that's a problem! It is entirely possible to work that way and still get things finished.

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    1. Doing multiple things at once drives my wife crazy. As long as I get them all done, then all is good.

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  10. Yay Melissa! It's been great to see her everywhere around the blogosphere.

    I can relate to your insecurities. Even though I did finish my first novels I'm now feeling like I'll never finish another one. Trying to just keep working through it though.

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    1. You mean it might be even harder to finish a book once I get past the first one? Arrrgggg!

      Thanks for the comment though.

      Delete
  11. Hi Ken. I'm sure you'll finish a story. Just keep at it. At some point, one of them will talk to you the loudest and before you know it you'll be writing the final chapter.

    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement.

      And I meet so many great people whenever I co-host!

      Delete
  12. Ken: love the castle photo. There's a hundred stories in there...but wait, that's right, you don't need that many more! I suffered a similar struggle, many projects, a few submissions, but nothing concrete. And then finally, I decided "it's time to finish something." So I did. It's up to us, plain and simple. No magic formula, no special rules. Complete the first draft and let it sit and "age" while you COMPLETE another. I've got a small essay/poetry book out last month and while that was under edit/review, I finished my fiction novel first draft. It's aging while I organize my second essay book.

    As the oh-so-famous and campy Barry Manilow sings: "We only read you when you write." So write, finish and we will read!

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    1. You're right about the castle. If I could, I'd make sure there was a castle in every story I wrote. I'm still shooting to finish something by the end of the year. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  13. I found the one thing that made me finish a story was knowing how it ended - I didn't necessarily plan every detail, but whenever I try to write without knowing where it's going, I always burn out. It's different for every writer, though, and I think when you find the right story, you'll have the commitment to finish it. Good luck! :)

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    1. I'm pretty sure that's what my problem was with my MG fantasy. I kept changing my mind about what the ending was going to be and as a result, couldn't focus on the beginning. I think I'm getting closer though. Thanks for the comment.

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  14. I'm like you. I jump around between projects. I've currently got about 30 writing projects in the works, say nothing about music projects. I think the first complete book is the hardest. Once you've made that leap, you're on your way. Keep at it. I know you'll make it!

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    1. Thirty? I'm not sure I'd ever live long enough to finish thirty books. Thanks for stopping by.

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  15. Hey there fellow co-host Ken! I can truly relate to having unfinished stories put away or in one of my Word files. I still have them even though I'd written them quite a while ago. I go back to them every so often with "fresh eyes" hoping to kick start my brain into breathing new life into the story. I just can't get rid of them.

    Yay for Melissa! I've already passed by and offered her congrats. Have a fantastic day Ken! Lily-Eva

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    1. I know what you mean about not being able to get rid of them. I keep everything I write, even if it goes into the huge save-for-later scrap pile growing on my harddrive.

      Delete
  16. Hi Ken.
    I'm sure you'll get there. Just keep at it.
    I know of a blogger who has finished a story 16 years later... it's now published! (she did confess that the MS languished in a back drawer most of that time...)
    Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month!
    Writer In Transit

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    1. LOL, I would have forgotten what the story was about after 16 years! At least I go back and work on all my stories every once in a while. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  17. If you're stubborn enough to keep plugging along then you WILL eventually finish!! Took me over 12 years to get next months release submitted. There's hope.

    :)

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    1. Congratulations on the book. I can be stubborn, especially if it's for something I love doing. Hopefully it will take me less than 12 years to finish one of my stories.

      Delete
  18. Way to go, Melissa! Ken, don't fret too much about finishing. I've been around the block long to know that these stories have their own ideas about ruminating. Actually, that's not entirely true. Maybe you just need to make a promise to yourself and then stick with it. Finish book#1 by June 1st, for instance.

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    1. I'm shooting to have one of them done by the end of the year, which would still be pretty fast for a slow writer like me. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  19. I'm like you, a bit all over the place with reading and writing. I think you will find the right story when the time is right. We all have those dozens of unfinished stuff laying around ... erm, probably not something to be proud of. LOL. Thanks for co-hosting.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. As long as i finish one or more of them, I don't care. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  20. Just keep writing. You'll get there. Perseverance is the key!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Perseverance, determination, and plain old stubbornness. Three valuable tools for the writer.

      Delete
  21. You can do it. It might take a bit of discipline (I know, dirty word.) But, scheduling it in and focusing on the prize - a completed ms - might be the motivation.
    Play off the Page

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    1. I can keep on track as long as I think the story is working. Once it starts falling off the rails, I'm doomed. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  22. Keep writing. Finishing a story isn't easy. People all over the globe struggle with that. It's a major accomplishment. Good luck.

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    1. Thanks. I know one day I'll do it, no matter what I said on my post.

      Delete
  23. Great insecurity. That 'never finishing' is a biggy. I don't think I've ever read any part of my mss that I didn't change in some way. I have no idea how I'll finish mine, either.

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    1. It seems like I'll be changing it forever. Hopefully I'll eventually get to the point where I feel I can stop and show it to the public. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  24. You know, I'm probably going to be in the same boat because I split my book idea into two with different themes. I don't know if I'll ever finish either. But maybe I'll at least finish my picture book if my mom's does well. And even though I don't like romances in general, Melissa's sounds interesting. Congrats!

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    1. I suspect that once you get some time to write again, you'll pick one of the books and stick with it long enough to finish it. That's what writers do.

      Delete
  25. Watch, you're going to start finishing and find out having all those projects was good. They'll feed into each other and be for you know it you'll have a back catalog!

    Good luck!

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    1. Yep. I've sometimes fantasized about having five books all finished at exactly the same time. Imagine the marketing I could do.

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  26. Congrats to Melissa!

    Well, before the Backworlds, I spent years... years over 5, possibly close to 8 [because there was a block of time when I was just thinking about it], writing it and working on it. It has never seen the light of day. I did actually finally finish a first draft and revised it a myriad of times. It taught me I could finish. Now the whole process is faster, because I learned the process and my process and how to make them work together.

    Maybe start with shorter and just get in the habit of finishing. That habit will then transfer over to something longer.

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    1. I'm sure I'll be less spastic once I finish the first one, but in the meantime I'll try to stay focused on whatever I choose to work on each day.

      Delete
  27. I'm a slow writer too, but I am still taking my first novel through NaNa this month. I hope to be much further along by the end of the month.
    Happy Writings,
    Juneta at Writer's Gambit

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    1. I tried NaNo once, but I'm such a slow writer, I didn't do very well. Still I need to practice writing first drafts more quickly. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  28. Yay for Melissa! And thanks so much for co-hosting this month.

    Ken, you WILL finish a story. I have faith in you. You'll probably hit on an idea that you must finish to fruition. Know what else you can try? Writing shorter works. Maybe you're meant to write novellas??? No matter what, you're writing, and that's what matters.

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    1. Oh, I defintely feel strongly enough about these stories to take them through fruition. I just have to make sure I don't keep getting sidetracked with new ideas. Glad you stopped by.

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  29. It reminds me of distracting ourselves at times. We all do it for various reasons. Sometimes we do it because we're afraid, other times we're bored, and sometimes we just don't know what to do with whatever it is we're working on. Whatever the reason, we need to stay focused if the work is important enough, and the result will be worth it. On that note, remember, you can do it, and do it you will - if you really want to, that is.

    MJ, A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Writing Tips
    Effectively Human
    Lots of Crochet Stitches

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    1. Yeah, I think I just need to get my motivations straightened out and then I'll know what the proper path is. I really hope I don't do this because I'm afraid of finishing. Thanks for the comment.

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  30. I have the same problem, Ken! I'm constantly working on too many things at once. It's become a real issue because I can't finish anything. After AtoZ I do plan on picking one project and sticking with it, though. We'll see how that goes!

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    1. I'm definitely going to narrow myself down to two manuscripts. I suppose narrowing it down to one would be even better, but I have to take baby steps. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  31. When it comes to working on 1 or 10 pieces at a time, just do whatever feels right for you. If it was wrong, you'd definitely know it!

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    1. It feels right, but I just may not know any better. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  32. Okay, I can't remember which IWSG-er had a post today on perseverance, but it's an awesome word. Just keep going. You will get where you need to go when the time is right for you.

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    1. Yes, I saw that post also, as well as another post that focused on the work "Determination." I thing all us IWSGers need to remember those words. Thanks for stopping by.

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  33. Hi Ken, I have the same issue, too many things at the same time... I guess you can say that our creativity is uncontainable! ;-)

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    1. True. But I want to container it. It's the only way I'm going to get anything published. :) Thanks for the comment.

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  34. I think we all have a few of those. And I always have them at different stages. Work on publishing one, editing another, and writing the next one. If we could only type as fast as our brain works!
    History Sleuth's Writings -A-Z/ISWG

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    1. That is kind of my hope too. Too have the manuscripts at different stages so I can work on whatever I feel like (drafting, editing, etc.) at the moment.

      Delete
  35. Hi Chemist Ken,

    Anyone who can become a chemist can do whatever they put their mind to, Most writers I know, myself included, have partially written or even abandoned work. I look forward to reading your debut work,

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    1. Sometimes, my technical background gets in the way of my showing emotion on the page. When my prose becomes more flowing, then I'll be ready. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  36. They do say it takes three books to get your voice down. Maybe you're there, now that you're on #3.

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    1. Hopefully. I'm just wondering which one of the three is going to be finished first. Thanks for stopping by.

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  37. I finish the story - as in getting to the end. But finished-finished as in polished and ready to submit, not so much. Next school year I will have the opportunity to write full time. My mission is to polish everything I've written and submit them - but I also want to keep writing new stories. Thank you, baby Jesus, for all-day kindergarten. :)

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    1. Ah yes. I could finish stories all day if I didn't have to do the editing and polishing part. I'm terrible at those. Hopefully I'll get better with time.

      Delete
  38. Ha! I have quite a few of those unfinished manuscripts sitting on my hard drive, too. With my current WIP, I'm marking the milestones as I write it--21,000 words to surpass one unfinished novel; 31,000 to surpass a completed novella that I later abandoned; 48,000 to surpass a short novel of fan fiction from years ago.

    I know this drill, but I hope to have this WIP finished sometime in June if I keep it up. I feel good about it and I hope you have the same luck with your manuscript. ;)

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    1. Good luck with your WIP. Hope you make your June deadline. I'll be happy if I have something good by the end of the year.

      Delete
  39. Hail to the unfinished manuscripts! Ken, I'm quite certain most writers have them tucked away on the computer or hidden away in a desk drawer. Don't fret. The story that demands to be completed, will be completed. Thanks for helping co-host along with us. :)

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    1. Co-hosting was fun. I meet so many new writers that way. Thank you for co-hosting too.

      Delete
  40. Late to the party! I have stacks of not quite there manuscripts. It's part of the journey to finisihed. I do think if you obsess you will mess up. Do your best and then move to the next project. Happy belated IWSG day.

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    1. Ah, but obsessing is what I do. :) If I could only edit faster, I could get rid of these half-finished manuscripts. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  41. For me, the editing is when the real writing happens. My first draft is really a very long, detailed outline. I can't edit until I finish the book.

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    1. I can't stop editing as I write the first draft. Not the really picky stuff, but I'm always thinking of new ways for stuff to happen in my story, and if I don't get it down on paper, I'll lose it.

      Delete
  42. Oh boy this was a great post. I can't really work on more than one thing at a time. I've tried and I can do bits every now and then, but once I'm in a story, I have to stay there until it's finished. Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG, and I love the haunted house photo on your site! The novel you "blurb-ed" (yes I just made that up), sound like a good story!

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    1. As soon as I saw that picture, I knew I had to use it somewhere. I love castles and old mansions, but there's not a lot of them in the Mid-West.

      Delete
  43. Congrats to Melissa! Lots of writers work on multiple stories, so don't let that bug you. If I were more organized, I'd work on several - but my brain can only handle one. *sigh* Good luck on finishing a story. You can do it!! :)

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I'll feel much better when one of them approaches the finish line.

      Delete
  44. Great post! I have this problem too. Sometimes, the beginning of a story is clear, but the ending is obscure. How would my hero solve his last problem? When I'm faced with such a conundrum, when I don't know what could be done, my hero is stumped too. Usually the solution is to change the problem, make it more 'solvable' or add some helpful agent, like magical dust or enchanted mouse or animated cellphone.
    And sometimes, if the story resists all your effort, it's the wrong story for you, and the only solution is to abandon it and keep looking for 'your' story. It will come.

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    1. I haven't figured out the problem on my MG fantasy. Thought I had, but it was too mundane. I won't do too much more with it until I can figure that out. Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  45. Yep, I read mulitple books at the same time too, but I prefer to work on one project at a time. Funnily enough, I'm working on multiple now. Sometimes it just happens that way.

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    1. I actually enjoy the freedom of working on more than one project at a time. The trouble comes when that causes me to get nothing done.

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  46. I have a similar problem except mine is with revising. I love writing the story, but once it's finished I move on to a new project without ever revising the one before it. It's so much more fun to write than revise!

    Keep on plugging away--you are determined and that's what matters!

    Congrats to Melissa--sounds like a great book!

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    1. You are so right! Revising is what kills me every time. Not that I don't enjoy making my book better. It's just that I don't feel very confident in my ability to revise. Thanks for stopping by.

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  47. Congrats to Melissa!

    And I, too, have multiple projects. We'll finish them one word at a time, eventually, right?

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    1. That's the plan. Hopefully I'm good at making plans. Thanks for the comment.

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  48. What a great post and topic! I also have about 3 stories that I have been working on. I am trying to stick to 1 at the moment and like you I also fear maybe I won't finish 1.

    Congrats Melissa!

    Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

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  49. It took me over a year to finish my first novel--I also stopped and started writing another novel in the middle. Now I'm working on 3 separate novels. So, I understand! I actually feel more productive with multiple projects, when one group of characters won't talk to me, I always have another set to fall back on.
    Keep plugging away and you'll make it happen :)

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  50. I haven't finished any drafts, and right now I have two WIP. I'm actually thinking about starting a third story but maybe not, lol. I can totally relate with you! Thanks for stopping by my IWSG post! :D

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