Saturday, May 17, 2014

Guest Post: "Two Steps to Picking Out the Right Project and Finishing It" by C. Hope Clark

Please welcome C. Hope Clark to the blog today. A few weeks ago she posted on Facebook how she was interested in doing guest posts. I figured sure that by the time I saw her message she had met her quota. Thankfully, she still had some open spots and graciously agreed to do a post for here. I am extremely grateful to C. Hope Clark for doing this today and hope this is the first of many more.....

Two Steps to Picking Out the Right Project and Finishing It

By C. Hope Clark

A writer recently cried on my shoulder about not being able to complete a project because he had so many great ideas swimming around his head.

"I've become a project hopper. I start but don't finish. Like convicts who look through iron bars at nervous guards, these story ideas glare at me from their Microsoft prison cells and question my authority. A walk to clear my head. Journaling. Listening to classical music. These exercises sometimes liberate  'the One.' I eventually find my way clear of the forest and pick the lonely little Charlie Brown Christmas tree. But, good grief, it’s a painful process."

Two suggestions, my friends.

1) Set time on your calendar for a business meeting with yourself.

At least monthly, format your goals for the next month, and then look back at the previous month to study what you accomplished (or didn't). So many people wave off this part of being a writer when it could define the writer you need to be . . . or need to avoid.

Some writers plan and plan, and rarely produce. They talk about what they're going to do but rarely see their projects through. Their polar opposites write and write and don't stop to plan what they will do with their stories.

You, however, must be different. Monthly, (or weekly is preferred) take a moment to study where you're headed and where you've been. Did you write a piece last week and could not find a home for it? Did you start writing one piece, then stop and switch to another? How many times did you hit a dead end?

In other words, study your writing habits? Which are not good? Which came through for you?

2) Whatever project you pick, go with it to THE END.

I wrote Lowcountry Bribe over two years, after work, at night. I did a few short pieces in the middle of this effort for diversity and entertainment, but my focus was this manuscript.  I made myself reach THE END. Couldn't sell it. So I put it on the shelf.

It wasn't a partial manuscript. It wasn't an idea. It was a completed job. Eventually, an opportunity presented itself for me to resubmit. I could only do that because I had a completed project, one that I could verbalize with a beginning, middle and ending. Not just a partial attempt, and far beyond a rough idea.

When you hold your meeting and decide your projects, lock away the ones you don't select. Don't look at them. Don't look at what others are doing and get drawn away. Finish the one you start. Do that a few times, and you just might find opportunity knocking harder on your door because you have an inventory of finished products. What also helped sell Lowcountry Bribe? The fact that I had book two completed as well.  

Nothing is more frustrating to a writer than to stockpile a hard drive full of partial projects. Delete most of those. Seeing them will only muddle your senses as they accumulate into a huge list, eventually representing your inability to complete what you start.
Bottom line: Pick what to write...and finish it. Repeat.

C. Hope Clark ©2014

C. Hope Clark is editor of, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. She is also an award-winning mystery author, currently promoting Palmetto Poison, book three in The Carolina Slade Mystery Series.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Excellent advice. I hear would-be authors often talking about much of the same--too many projects and never finishing. Also there are those who want to tell you the whole plot of the novel they plan to write but have not written one word.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Miss Clark. Simple and effective.

Hope Clark said...

We talk too much and do too little. When I start wanting to talk about a future project, I pinch myself, because it's just lip service, bragging, whatever. The best way to flaunt one's self as a writer is to publish your work.

And yep, I love simple.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Big time thanks to Hope for her post and comment as well as everyone else. Very glad to have had the opportunity to share something from Hope.