The Bible says, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof” (Ecclesiastes 7:8, KJV). Or, as another version puts it, “It is better to finish something than to start it” (Ecclesiastes 7:8, NCV).
That wisdom applies to everyone on God’s green earth, I’m sure; but it sure feels like it applies more to writers and the writing life. Can I get a witness? I see that hand.
Seriously, as intoxicating as it can be to start a new writing project, finishing something is, as the wise teacher said, better. As Jon Acuff puts it in his excellent book Finish, completing a task or project is giving yourself “the gift of done.” Whether it’s a book proposal, article draft, query, blog post, grant application, or something else, finishing really is a gift you give to yourself, in at least these six ways:
It boosts your self-esteem.
Many people would describe themselves as “great starters” but “lousy finishers.” Who wants to think of oneself that way? When you finish something, you put the lie to that attitude. It fosters a stronger, better self-image.
It clears space in your head.
One of the many reasons I love checking off the items on my to-do list is that, once it’s checked off, I don’t have to think about it or worry about it anymore. It’s done and gone, mentally speaking. I can relax. I can move on.
It clears time in your schedule.
I confess that I’m OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and also a cheapskate. So, I love it when I pay off a debt—a car loan or nine-months-same-as-cash sorta deal. It means that amount can then be applied to savings or my donut addiction. The same kind of thing happens when I finish a writing project. Those hours or days that I devoted to, say, my book Nobody Loves You but Your Mother … And She Could Be Jivin’ Too are now freed up for something else, just as good.
It teaches you.
Each of my fifty books have taught me something. Some have taught me more than one thing. If I’d kept them in The Drawer of Unfinished Undertakings, I would’ve missed those lessons and skills.
It opens the door to possibility.
An unfinished proposal won’t get an offer, an unfinished book won’t make any money, an unfinished devotion can’t change a life. It’s the finished project that opens doors, wins awards, and propels you toward the next open door.
It has a snowball effect.
Maybe you’ve experienced this phenomenon: You finally complete that long-delayed piece of writing and check it off your list and, before you know it, another is done, as if by magic! It’s not magic, of course; it’s all about energy and momentum. But finishing—at least in my experience—tends to beget more finishing, and on and on it goes.
So, why not make this the year you give yourself “the gift of done”? I hope you will.
Do these benefits of finishing resonate with you? Why or why not? Do you have any to add? Refute? Dismiss? Protest? Do tell, in the comments.