by Ottilia Scherschel
I read a statistic recently that said people finish reading ten per cent of the books they start. A friend of mine calls bookmarks his white flags of surrender since he leaves them in books he doesn’t finish. As a writer, I often ask myself when starting a project if I can stay the course.
The things that make me start a story will not help me finish. Stories carry a certain excitement at the beginning—a sort of high. I have the opportunity to discover new ideas, create new characters and settings, and build a plot. The newness of every story sustains me for a while, but the novelty wears off when I start digging deeper and deeper into my creation. At some point, the end seems far away and the road to get there endless. I feel like I want to chuck everything I’ve put together.
I’ve been writing long enough now to know my sustenance to carry on can only come through perspiration. It’s that old concept of put your butt in the chair and write. This is easier said than done. I tell myself that my strength as a writer will come from writing. I encourage myself with sayings I learned as a kid like to be good at something you have to practice. Relying on the misery loves company angle, I seek encouragement from my critique group whose members are dealing with the same feelings.
I struggle, but I continue sitting at my computer and working. I slog through my doubts, my fears, and my insecurities. I ask myself what is important about my writing. The same answer always echoes in my brain. What’s important is staying the course—finishing well. I don’t want to be a writer who only completes ten per cent of the books she starts.
How do you feel about staying the course with your projects?