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How to Finish a Writing Project

by Amy O'Quinn


The confidence and excitement surrounding your current writing project declines, and doubt creeps in. You question your ability to complete the work, and you wonder how you ever thought you had what it takes to be a writer. In short, you are overwhelmed. Sound familiar?


So, how do you finish a writing project when you feel overwhelmed?


Well, the trick is to find ways to push through and finish the job!


Follow these steps:


Step Back

The first thing you need to do is to step back, take a deep breath, and give yourself a pep talk. Remember that everybody (no matter how far along they are in the writing journey) feels overwhelmed at times. It’s normal. Moreover, being too sure of one’s self has its own set of problems anyway.



Instead of looking at the whole project, concentrate on smaller steps. Think of each of those steps as a mini-job with its own deadline.


I like to create a check sheet and break a project up into categories. Within each category, I subdivide the work down into the smaller steps and assign the day I want to finish that particular thing.


When I finish a step, I check it off, then go to the next thing on the list. I try not to think about future steps or look too far ahead. I simply concentrate on one thing at a time. Otherwise, I get anxious. Sometimes, I’ll even fold my checklist so that I can ONLY see that day’s assignment. However, I can tell by my checkmarks that I’m making progress.


Set a Timer/Find Little Minutes

I also like to use a timer as my friend. I’m easily distracted, and I find myself checking email or social media sites if I’m not careful. This may happen to you as well. Set a timer for thirty minutes or an hour, and get busy. Reward yourself with a small break at the end of your self-imposed work period, and then go at it again. Focused work means productivity and results! Another trick it to use the ‘little minutes’ during the day to accomplish various tasks. You’d be surprised to see what you can get done in five or ten minutes, such as answering emails or phone calls, fact checking, brainstorming ideas, etc. Those ‘little minutes’ you find each day will add up.


Tune Out Interruptions

This tip may not work for everyone, but headphones help minimize distractions in my home. My desk is in a central part of our house, and noise and activity abound. I put on my headphones, light a candle, tune in to an instrumental channel on Pandora, and I instantly have my own little bubble. This helps me focus on my work more easily. Plus, when I feel that I’m focused and making progress, I’m less overwhelmed.


Get Gritty

Last of all, make up your mind that you ARE going to get this project done. Get gritty and go all drill-sergeant on yourself if you must. Sometimes, just determining to put your rear-end in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard, and your brain in gear is what you need to push on through. Be kind to yourself, but don’t hesitate to apply a kick in the pants when it’s called for either. You may be your own worst critic, but that means you also have the ability to be your own best cheerleader, motivator, and coach as well!


Don’t let feelings of being overwhelmed or inadequate keep you from finishing a job or following your dream. Figure out what works for you. Be proactive and create a go-to ‘push it on through’ plan BEFORE you need it.


Plan the work. Work the plan. Get it done!


*Article originally appeared on The Work Writer's Club website HERE.




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