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Finishing stories
  • I'm new to this forum, and I appreciate all the advice that has been given to me so far.

    I wonder whether anyone has the same problem as me with finishing stories. I rarely find time to write and when I do, it is usually when I'm off work, as my job is so demanding that I rarely have time for myself. When I do find the time, I usually procrastinate (like I am doing now or like I was earlier today when I was watching Poldark or Mr Selfridge on DVD), or I have usually lost my train of thought and the thread I am going with. My current story I have been working on since about 2006 and it has already had several revisions, but I'm no where near finished it. One revision was because the main characters were really annoying me, so I changed the whole story. Now I have gone back to it various times, and I have added to it and changed it since then; however, the style I had originally written in seems to have gone. Instead of it being quite quirky, it now seems to be quite serious. It doesn't seem to flow, but the quirkiness I was originally writing with has gone.

    For a while I abandoned the story and started working on a Supernatural one, but I really wanted to finish one novel, so went back to the original one. I am really finding it difficult to finish.

    Could it be that I have been working on it that long that I have lost sight of the original story? Do I need to be writing more often? Does anybody else have this issue? Do I need to plan more? Do I need to abandon it completely?

    How do other people deal with demanding jobs and a lack of time?

    Many thanks.
  • Doglover said:


    Could it be that I have been working on it that long that I have lost sight of the original story? Do I need to be writing more often? Does anybody else have this issue? Do I need to plan more? Do I need to abandon it completely?


    To answer those questions in order -
    Could be, yes. Ideally yes. I reckon it's quite common. It's worth trying, especially if you're losing ideas before you can get them down. Maybe if you've been struggling with it for a long time it might be a good idea to try something else and see if it comes any easier.
  • dora
    Even if you have a demanding job you can still take a notebook with you anywhere and jot down ideas that come to mind about your story, where ever you are. All it takes is a minute or two to jot down your thoughts. Once you're away from the demands of your working life, that is when you should go through your notes and add a few hundred words to your story.

    Agree with yourself you will spend at least 30 minutes three times a week adding a few hundred words.

    If you are not keen to do that, ie don't think you can fit in 10 minutes here and there, or as you say, if you choose to procrastinate when you could be working on the story then I'd suggest what your problem is, is the original story you wanted to write does not excite you enough any more to be bothered with it.

    If you're not being excited by a need to write then I'd suggest you ask yourself whether to continue with writing is what you want or find something else to do.

    It's the same process when someone says one year they want to quit smoking but five years down the line there they are, still puffing away regardless. Unless you really want to get this story out of you, unless you're really excited and have a reason to want to put the effort in to write it, it just is not going to happen.



  • I do want to write. I've always wanted to write, but I'm not the same person I was 9 years ago. And I believe due to my job my writing style has changed. I tried my supernatural story for the last hour before I started making tea, and I wrote 2 pages
  • The main issue to me is that you aren't writing the first draft and then making changes, you keep making changes as you're going along. This is lethal, you will never finish.

    Don't worry about making changes just write when you can, even 500 words here and there build up.
    Thanked by 1Doglover
  • I think you are spot on, Carol. I've done more editing than new writing with that story trying to make it perfect. It was lethal.
  • I'm not sure it's ever possible to get something novel length perfect. Trying to perfect the start before writing the end would be like trying to perfectly ice a cake before baking - perhaps you could do it, but you'd have to mess it up to get the thing cooked.
  • I like that analogy, Phots Moll.
    Thanked by 1Phots Moll
  • Hi Doglover - I've got a demanding full-time job, 2 girls 3 & 6 and my wife works part time but as a midwife she puts in 12 hour shifts at least one day during the week and often works Saturday and Sunday too. So although I've got all this happening I still find time to write. I'm not writing this to say "wow how great is that" but merely to make the point that I manage because I want to. I write on the train, in my lunch hour, sometimes I use writing as a escape when I'm supposed to be working in fact any time I get I suppose but I have to fit it in around everything else but I manage because I want to.

    I'd love the luxury of being lucky and gifted enough to do it full time. I don't expect that to ever happen but I live in hope. Some writers are exceptionally lucky/talented that their first effort is picked up by a publisher and becomes a best seller though I suspect that is as rare as picking up a newspaper and not finding a picture of Rita Ora in it so the rest of us plod away more in hope than expectation.

    I suppose to many writing is more like an obsession, occasionally an unhealthy one but for me when I'm in the zone everything just vanishes into the background and the characters on the screen in front of me become more real, more substantive than anything in the real world. That's maybe not a good thing but I think it's a necessary thing that only others who do a similar thing can understand and relate to.

  • Jen
    I have the same problem with trying to finish or problems when rewriting. I have one short story I've rewritten quite a few time and another I started working on but I can't get them right. It's annoying because I have finished one for my writers' group and two for competitions.
    I wish I knew the answer.
    Has for demanding jobs my job can be demanding, it's just finding time I guess. Try doing Nanowrimo in November and you will realise how much time you do have and might waste. My problem is I want to do so much e.g. courses, reading, writing, film and tv and spend time with family and I have to work but I can't fit everything in. I also suffer with anxiety and that can take over sometimes :(

    I did write a short exercise yesterday (kindle ebook back to creative writing school) and it made me feel so good to be writing again after about a month or so of not really writing much. This morning I woke up with an idea (old idea from years ago that's found a new angle) and I have a novel idea I've been thinking about for months.
    Maybe you need to be inspired, try writing exercises to get you into writing, I'm sure you can spare 5mins a day or a few times a week to do them. Once you start writing again and you awaken that creative side of your brain you might find you can't stop for a while.
    Then you might stop and have to try and be inspired again.
    This is what seems to happen for me.
    I've set myself a goal to write four first drafts in September, I know I can do it.
    See if you can set yourself a goal, it doesn't have to be big. It could be simply brainstorming or looking for ideas one day and then writing a page another.
    Everyone is different I think you just need to find a process that works for you and don't be put off by all these people who say write every day etc as if you're like me it might just stress you or make you feel guitly (and clog your inspiration) if you can't
    Thanked by 1Doglover
  • Jen said:


    Has for demanding jobs my job can be demanding, it's just finding time I guess. Try doing Nanowrimo in November and you will realise how much time you do have and might waste. My problem is I want to do so much e.g. courses, reading, writing, film and tv and spend time with family and I have to work but I can't fit everything in. I also suffer with anxiety and that can take over sometimes :(


    Everyone is different I think you just need to find a process that works for you and don't be put off by all these people who say write every day etc as if you're like me it might just stress you or make you feel guitly (and clog your inspiration) if you can't



    Thanks, Jen. I too suffer from anxiety, but I do think I prioritise work a lot; however, this is simply because in my line of work I am never finished working. There is always something to do. I used to write notes down, but I think with having a lack of time I concentrated on re-reading my story and writing a bit more rather than letting ideas fester.

    On the plus side, the last few days I have written notes for both my main stories - especially the one I was stuck with. As I am thinking about them, the ideas seem to be flowing a bit more. My plan is to write a bit more today and tomorrow before I go back to work on Tuesday. Then, I'm going to try writing or at least writing notes every week by trying to find spare time when I can.

  • I've just been working on my 2006 story for the last hour and I managed nearly a 1000 words. I know it might not seem much to some, but for me and this story it is a lot.
  • Well done Doglover. Sounds like you're finally finding your way. :)
  • Doglover,
    I suggest you create a detailled plan of your story before beginning to write. It will be easier to finish your books.
    It takes me 6 months to gather all the ideas: choose plot, characters and ending. My plans are 3k words long. The writing is much faster and fun since you know what's coming and you are thrilled to write it.
    Good Luck
  • If it's any consolation, Doglover, I started work on my novel in 2003 and finally got it into print only a few weeks ago. It went through many changes during those years and I must have at least a dozen 'final' drafts on my computer.
    Thanked by 1Doglover
  • All the best doglover, we're all rooting for you to finish your novel/stories. Keep us updated. I'm hoping to start and finish the planning for a novel soon. And have writing goals to aim for :)
    Thanked by 1Doglover
  • Thank you everyone for the encouragement. I'm back at work today and getting back into the swing of things seems a bit daunting and stressful after being off for so long; however, I will not be perturbed. I am going to get this story finished. I am going to write a bit every day.
  • I'm back at work and I've written over a 1000 words in the last two weeks. That equals 759 words today and about 300 last week. I wanted to write more today, but what with trying to clean the house and visitors coming round I haven't written was much as I wanted to.
  • The important thing is you are writing, however much or little. It will soon build up.
  • Agree with Carol. Get that first draft down. Don't allow yourself any revisions till you get to the end. Then address one issue at a time, structure, pace, authentic voices, flow. Job done.
  • I agree too. Much better to get some words written, even if you don't have as much time to do it as you'd like. Even a few hundred a week will keep the story in your mind and they'll add up - especially if you get more opportunities to write a bigger chunk.
  • Thanks so much for the positive comments. I'll continue at my slow speed. :)
  • Sounds like you're doing just fine, Doglover. :)
  • Well done doglover, keep at it. You're doing well :D
  • 1,036 words yesterday and I could have written more; however, my mother came round whilst I was cooking tea and I never finished my train of thought. I really wanted to write today, but I've been so snowed under with work that I couldn't. Sunday seems to be my only writing day during the week before the bedlam of work starts again on Monday.