Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Writing Tip for Anyone with Unfinished Projects

For the year 2020, I picked FINISH! as my guiding word. With multiple novel and short story manuscripts abandoned before revisions and editing, I had developed the habit of not finishing one thing before I jumped on the next idea and took off running. As a pantser, perhaps the revision stage seemed too hard. Or maybe I was too afraid that new idea would get away. In spite of my past bad habits, I resolved to change. On January 21st, I wrote about my intentions to FINISH! Here at the Blood-Red Pencil in my post called How I'm Planning for My Best Writing Year Ever.

Once I decided that 2020 had to be the year I cleaned up the backlog before starting something new, I had a new quandary. Where should I start? And that was closely followed by: What if I get discouraged?

As often happens in this life full of coincidence and serendipity, suggestions and possible solutions popped into my email and showed up on social media. I picked a trusted source of advice and education, Colleen M. Story. I follow her Writing and Wellness blog religiously and have read two of her books, Overwhelmed Writer Rescue and Writer Get Noticed! When I saw she had a new workshop available called How to Finish the Creative Projects You Start, I knew I was in the right place. I signed up for the online workshop!

At the beginning, Colleen helped me resist reaching for the "shiny new object" and choose which project I needed to tackle first (which turned out to be different to the one I'd mentioned in my BRP blog post). That was a big challenge for me. I don’t even want to admit publicly how much unfinished work I had to choose from. However, working through each module and exercise, I made my decision and went to work.

There was more to the workshop as I listened to more of the modules, taking my time and savoring the excellent encouragement Colleen provided. The workshop deals with those pesky emotions and behavior that get in the way, from fear of failure to procrastination.

If you want a sample of what Colleen offers in this program, she also has a free mini-class that might help you decide whether the longer workshop would help your situation.

I’m not the only one who has made 2020 a FINISH! Year. Polly Iyer posted her intentions on this blog January 30th in 2020 Will Be the Best Writing Year Ever Because…

Now that my husband and I have “gone to ground” in Northern Colorado, I plan to get a lot of writing, reading, and FINISHING! done over the next couple of months. I hope you all are doing okay and feel able to cope with the way our lives have changed in what seems like an instant. If you need more suggestions on what to do with that extra time, note that the Indy-published arm of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers is sponsoring their Spring NovelRama on Facebook March 20th-23rd. The goal is write 25,000 words in four days. Members cheer each other on, offer sprints, and even prompts.

That might put you in the mood to sign up for Blogging from A to Z April Challenge. That's where you pick a theme or go with random topics and run through the letters of the alphabet for the 26 days of posting. Think of things to do when you're "confined to quarters" such as A is for Attending Online Classes...J is for Jigsaw Puzzles...well, you get the drift. I haven't done this for a couple of years, but I had a lot of fun when I did participate.

Pat (Patricia) Stoltey is the author of four novels published by Five Star/Cengage: two amateur sleuth, one thriller that was a finalist for a Colorado Book Award in 2015, and the historical mystery Wishing Caswell Dead (December 20, 2017), a finalist for the 2018 Colorado Book Awards. This novel is also now available in a large print edition. Her short story, “Good Work for a Girl,” appears in the Five Star Anthology, The Spoilt Quilt and Other Frontier Stories: Pioneering Women of the West released in November 2019.

Pat lives in Northern Colorado with her husband Bill, Scottish Terrier Sassy (aka Doggity), and brown tabby Katie (aka Kitty Cat).

You can learn more about Pat at her website/blog, on Facebook, and Twitter. She was recently interviewed for the Colorado Sun’s SunLit feature that you can find at the Colorado Sun website.


  1. Great post, Pat, and I'm still on board with finishing my half-finished projects. I'm actually finished with one and am in edits. This will be our year.

    1. It really is hard to stop ourselves from taking off after a wonderful new idea. I'm trying hard, though.

  2. I love this post, Pat. It's as if you had written it personally to me. I have so many projects awaiting my attention, but it's more and more difficult to get the writing ball rolling. With age come fatigue and focus issues, and sometimes extreme effort is needed to get me going. So for your post, I say thank you. I really needed a major nudge in that direction.

  3. Oh, yes, that horrible fatigue. I'm so tempted to take a nap every afternoon, but I do sleep better at night if I resist napping.

  4. Hope that you stay well and have a productive year with lots of finished works by December 31.

  5. Thanks, Liz. I hope you stay well and have plenty of books to read while you "hunker down."

  6. Thanks for the introduction to Colleen and her classes. I'm a bit like you in having numerous projects in various stages of completion - or not completed. LOL But I have forced myself to focus on finishing the 3rd book in the Seasons Mystery Series and accomplished that since January. I'm just in the final self-edit before looking for a publishing home for it.


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