I've had the same issue since I started writing. I can't seem to finish anything I start. The ideas come to me so fully-fledged and vivid, but I struggle to get them down the way I see them.
Maybe it's that critical component of being a writer that I'm letting hold me back. The innate tendency to break down every aspect of my work. There are times when I feel as if that mentality has gotten the best of me and my writing. But, like my hard head, it's an asset as much as a downfall. It all depends on how I can reprogram myself to make that self-criticism work to my benefit.
One of the most important parts of this has been to save the criticism for later. I'm over 26,000 words in on this iteration of my novel's manuscript. Of the words written, I've avoided reading more than 500 in succession at any point in time. Whenever I pick the story back up, I simply read the last written paragraph for tone and context, then begin to write.
So, there was a little thing in that last paragraph that might have gone under the radar. I spoke about this iteration of my novel's manuscript. That wording is so important because of what it represents. It represents the FIVE discarded manuscripts I started for the same novel. All together, the work put in on those discarded attempts could comprise an entire novel. That is, if I had just worked through the problems that arose while writing. If I had simply persevered long enough to cross the finish line. The same can be said about the three other manuscript attempts that are abandoned in my Google Drive that total over 100,000 words collectively.
A vicious cycle manifested in my writing across all of those attempts. That is the preternatural compulsion to comb through every word and sentence. The desire to get better by burning it all down. It's a trap that caught me every time I would sit to start writing. I'd allow myself to spend hours reading through and revising the entire draft before moving forward. Which is sustainable for the first couple of thousand words. But as the number rises, the snare tightens, forcing the monster to eat itself or die trapped. Sadly, most of those stories are now dead.
Yet, this one persisted. This one stuck with me through all the tumult of learning. It keeps coming back, finding its way to the top of my thoughts. Now, I feel indebted to it somehow. As if its dedication to me warrants reciprocation. I owe this story life. It's my responsibility to bring it into the world, to save it the torment of falling into the trap.
When I set my goals this week, I promised 5,000 words to that story. So far, I've only logged close to 1,000. There are so many reasonable excuses I could make for not reaching that goal. I'm busy. I'm tired. I'm sore. There's too much on my plate. I could find solace in those escapes from responsibility. But how would I benefit from that? How could I live with myself after turning my back on something that's been a part of me for so long?
This is my last long-form blog for the week. That's one set of obligations crossed off my list. Hopefully it can serve as a launching pad into the rest of those commitments that are still owed on my ledger.