How many novels have you started? Count them.
How many have you completed? Be honest.
I asked this question at Random’s FB page and found that many writers have more unfinished novels than finished. Some writers wouldn’t divulge how many incomplete stories they had.
Why is it easer to start a novel then to complete one? What makes us stop and start another story before the first one is finished? I have eight. Four are completed but need more edits. But I’m already getting excited about starting a new novel for NaNoWriMo (National November Write Month) than finishing those four incomplete ones. Why?
I don’t know for certain, but I have my theory:
As writers we’re creative people. We create. We have awesome ideas. New stories are fun and exciting. Creating is more of a right brain thing. We don’t have to stick with any guidelines. We can let our minds wander and flow from our brain to the tips of our fingers as our stories play a movie in our head. Our thinking in the right brain is spontaneous and influenced by emotions, such as our mood, or external emotion triggers–things that mess up our lives. With the right part of the brain, we use our imagination, fantasize, bringing our experiences and personal beliefs along the way.
The hard part–rewriting, focusing, following through, organizing, structuring our time–that’s difficult. That takes discipline. Us righties flit. We get bored easily, so we like to move from one project to another when our attention wanes. Those left-brained skills don’t come as easy. We have them, we simply prefer the other.
I believe that’s why many talented writers aren’t published. They don’t have enough of the left-brained glue to finish a project and avoid distractions.
So how can right brainers train themselves to think more like lefties and complete what they started? Is it even possible?
Yes, I believe it is. Anything is possible, but training your brain isn’t easy. You have to want it. You have to work at it and know that it’s not going to be easy. And you have to learn how to TRICK yourself.
- Allow yourself creative moments, plenty of them.
- Turn off the television, FB, Twitter, anything that will distract you.
- Then, for a small portion of you day, trick yourself into believing you’re someone else–someone who is more left brained and structured, organized. Picture that person sitting in front of your unfinished novel. (I know you can do this because you have an imagination, right? When you write you pretend you’re that character, so why can’t you pretend you’re someone who completes their work?)
- Think about the novel when you’re in the shower, or folding the laundry, or making dinner. Picture yourself finishing it, writing until the end without stopping.
- Hold yourself accountable. Set the timer for that amount of time you’ll be the “other” person. Put on a different hat if it will help you get “into character.”
- Celebrate small victories. When you take your leftie hat off count how many words you produced and do a dance, grab a piece of chocolate, or whatever reward you value.
- Promise yourself that you can’t move to the next project until this one is complete, but that it’ll be worth it in the end.
- In your down time, work to strengthen your left brain with word and number challenges like crossword puzzles and Sudoku. Games like chess and bridge also help develop sequential thought processes.
If you can find the discipline to TRICK yourself into completing your novel, the tastiest TREAT will come in the end.
Do you think you can do it? Or, is this idea the most bizarre you’ve ever heard?