No matter what you do, finish a writing project that you’ve started. Sage advice from writer/director James Gunn. His inspiring Facebook post on the subject can be found here. Can I tell you how much I love James Gunn? And his dog, Von Spears too. So in love with his dog. I might actually love Von Spears more*. But as usual, I’m digressing here.
So James Gunn had the exact same problem as I had (and still have). Except he seemed to have overcome his issues about twenty years ago and is now the proud accomplisher of many things, particularly a fantastic blockbuster Marvel movie and its upcoming sequel. I’m still struggling with my non-finishing ways. He’s only two years older than I am and I feel like he’s got it together so much more than I do. Well, of course he does. That’s why he’s making Hollywood movies and I’m still just dreaming about making them.
Finish it. It’s so basic and it’s something we know intuitively. We’ve been told this all our lives, to finish what we start. Finish reading that book. Finish your homework. Finish the food on your plate. Except for the chocolate cake. That’s maybe not such a good idea to finish the whole chocolate cake. And yet, finishing non-food things is something that becomes so difficult to do. There are as many reasons as there are people in the world for why we don’t finish things. A sparkling idea hits you full on and causes a cascading waterfall of enthusiasm. Then sparkling idea isn’t so sparkling anymore and it becomes incredibly difficult to plow through and see a now lackluster idea to completion. Especially difficult when newer, even shinier and far more attractive sparkly ideas start doing their little shimmy dance in front of you. It’s hard not to be seduced. So shiny.
But I know I have to finish what I start, even if I haven’t been practicing that as of late. I am notorious for starting projects, writing or otherwise and abandoning them mid-stream. I have a writing box. It’s where my writing projects go to die. I guess technically, I sentence them to death, half-formed fledglings lacking any kind of substance or cohesion. The box is full of half-done writing projects and ideas going back to when I first dived into the writing world as a child. It felt like the only stories that ever got finished were those that were mandated by school and had definite deadlines. Other than that, I’d work on things until I was either stuck or became bored with it or discovered maybe it really wasn’t such a ground-breaking, awesome idea after all. Then that partially completed piece would be quietly slipped into its very own file folder and tucked neatly into the writing box, to be forgotten until some sweeping moment of nostalgia when I just had to comb through the box to re-visit my incarcerated, defunct writing projects.
When I re-discovered my penchant for writing, I was determined that it would never happen again. No matter what, I was going to finish all of my projects, even if I didn’t like the way they were going or how they came out. And I did pretty well in the beginning with that. My proudest writing accomplishments to date are completing two screenplays, Between Men and Women and The Price of Falling in Love, without requiring a deadline of any kind. I’m probably most proud of The Price, even though I love Between Men and Women so much I could squish it to bits in a giant hug. The Price wasn’t going the way I wanted and while I absolutely love parts of it, the whole wasn’t coming together quite the way I wanted it to. But I still pushed on and finished it. Old Writing Me would have shoved it in the writing box and run away, arms flailing, to hide in the corner. But I didn’t. I finished it, edited it and I can now proudly say I have that work as a finished piece. There you go Hollywood, come and get it!
And in the spirit of finishing things, I’m actually going to finish this post and publish it, instead of letting it languish in my drafts folder like so many of my posts do. (I actually started this the day James made the post that inspired this post.) I’m turning over a new leaf and getting back on the finishing train. Now I just have to finish this monster of a novel I committed to. (I’m trying at this point not to shove the manuscript into the writing box and run away, arms flailing, to hide in the corner.)
So in the immortal words of Kansas, “Carry on my wayward son (or daughter).” And my new mantra is going to be “Keep on writing!”
#KeepOnWriting Pass it on.
*P.S. Don’t worry Izzy, in the doggie world, I love you the most and nothing will ever change that.
P.P.S. You’re probably wondering why I chose a picture of multiple people, instead of just James Gunn and then scribbled on it. It’s because he looks so darn sexy in this one. And then I didn’t have the heart to cut the others out because I like them too.
Photo L to R: Sean Gunn, James Gunn (Yes, they are brothers), Andre Royo, Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry (who has done a crapload of stuff, but will always be near and dear to my heart because he one time did that one episode of that one show that I love so much, even though it only had 14 episodes.)