Why I Hid My Credit Card and Other Tips to Help You Finish the Damned Proposal

I've been a bad, bad girl of late. I've forgotten that D's (delays) lead to F's (failure) and need to remember a much better combination, the D that stands for Discipline which leads to Finishing what I have started.

You see, beginning a new project is easy. There's the mad rush of romance when a new idea hits you, the sweet thrill of discovery as you peel back the layers of new characters, research new settings, and play around with exciting plot potential. It's so much fun that I have four different unfinished proposals started, yet I keep zipping off to begin another rather that completing anything to send it to my agent... where it might be criticized, even rejected.

Hmmm. Now, we're getting somewhere. I've recently felt the wasp's sting of rejection (happens to the best of us!) and am in no hurry to get nailed again. Which is why, rather than finishing any one project, as I swore to do this weekend, I went out boot shopping.

Bad Colleen! Although I did score a pair of awesome black boots on sale, I'm teaching myself bad (and expensive) habits. And I know darned well that if I allow myself to keep starting new things or go out to shop or catch a movie, the powers of resistance to the creative process will have a terrible new weapon to use against my powers of professionalism.

So here's the deal. I am not allowed to work on anything else or do anymore damage with my credit card until I have the project I'm closest to completing finished and ready to send out into the fray. Because I know from years of experience, that the right D's and F's (that's Discipline and Finishing, in case you weren't paying attention, can often lead to my favorite kind of C, a shiny new contract.

If I get struck with any other "brilliant" story ideas in the meantime, I'm going to just jot a quickie notation for my future file and go on about my business. Scout's honor. I've learned from past experience that many of those bright ideas are really just distraction grenades tossed into the fray by my lazy muse, who hates the tough, dangerous work of completing things and sending them out into the world.

So what about the rest of you? Ever have problems finishing what you've started? Have any excellent tips to share to help keep yourself on course?

Comments

Hooray for me! I finally finished the confounded synopsis that was my stumbling block. One proposal down... one proposal to be edited!
Suzan Harden said…
Yay, Colleen!
Good for you, Colleen! And wow, I don't know if I'll ever get to the day where I can get a contract based on a proposal, but if so, I hope to be as dedicated with that kind of writing as you are. :)

It's strange for me. I seem to be able to hyperfocus for long periods of time on a project, and it's really hard for me to tear myself away and think about anything else. Right now the teaching is the other thing I turn to, but eventually, I'd like to be able to juggle writing projects. Right now, though, I have enough! :)
Janet Little said…
Ha! This was brilliant! Then when you've got the shiny C for Contract you can go back to B for Beginnings and Boot shopping, because you got A for Advance!
Thanks, Suzan, Kathryn, and Janet! Looking forward to hitting that kind of honor roll, Janet!

Selling on proposal is a mixed blessing, Kathryn. It usually requires "serial focus" on several projects, but it's the best way for more experienced writers to achieve the kind of publishing schedule they need to make a living, especially within the (mainly genre)
world of mass market paperback originals.

And for those reading who might be new to the process, the first novel sale is almost invariably on a full manuscript, and often the first several sales are achieved in that manner. It's riskier in terms of effort potentially "wasted" (if any writing is ever wasted) but has it's own advantages. (No harrowing deadlines and often, larger advances!)
Saranna DeWylde said…
YAY, Colleen. That's awesome.

I have three incomplete novels sitting on my laptop. Whenever I try to start something new, I always have a bunch of ideas zinging around my head. I will write 30K and then that's where it just stops. The next 10-15K are like some medieval form of torture. And the rest? Then it flows like wine.

My newest project though has been especially hard because it is so dark. I can only write a few pages before I start thinking about rocking back and forth in the corner and trying to cut my wrist with a spork. Not that I think it's bad, this might be the best thing I've ever written. It's just...heavy.

See, I'm blog bopping instead of working. But I'm going to dig back in.

Best of luck, doll. I hope you sell on both proposals. :)
Saranna,
Thanks for the good wishes! Best of luck to you as you tackle the heavier stuff. I know whenever I try something new, different, or "risky" that's when resistance digs in its sharp talons.

Best of luck escaping its clutches!
Saranna, I hear you on the dark novel. That's been me with this book. And Colleeeeeeen, Coleeeeeeen, COLLEEEEEEEN, I think you jinxed me! During my writing session today, I just discovered that some of the brainstorming I've been doing lately is really not for this novel, but for what could be the SEQUEL to this novel. That's why the structure has been driving me bonkers! Because I've been trying to write more than one book!

Truthfully, I've known for a long time that I'm probably writing the middle of what could be a series. I "felt" that awhile ago. But I've been refusing to face it because I don't know whether or not this one will sell. But I guess there's only one way to find out!
And yes, I have heard that the two-book deals, etc. are not necessarily the best for newer writers. A friend of mine sold her first novel in a two-book deal and had to rush rush rush to finish the second novel. Then her agent turned around and got her another two-book deal, based on proposal. She's been very blessed, but she's really had to pump out the novels. I think if people write well quickly (which I hope to train myself to do eventually), that can be a good thing, but I could imagine that it would also be very stressful. And then you'd really almost HAVE to quit your day job, because how else would you have the time?

Sorry. Just thinking aloud-as I put the finishing touches on my AWP presentation, where I decided to hold nothing back and go for the academy's collective jugular (or a less reverent part of the anatomy). I'll let you know what happens!

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