Finishing things

Well, that last year was definitely a thing. This new year is proving also to be a thing. It’s all very distracting and I absolutely do not want to be writing this post. I’d much rather be playing video games, or doomscrolling twitter, or watching WandaVision with my finger on the pause button, but I’m choosing to write this instead.

A couple of weeks ago, in a moment of uncharacteristic optimism, I decided that 2021 would be my Year of Finishing Things (YoFT). The idea is that rather than making a list of resolutions to fail at I will give the year a theme, a focus, a habit of thought that I want to cultivate. I’ve even made a spreadsheet to keep track of all the tasks I’ve completed.

Last year was meant to be my Year of Showing Off (YoSO) and while the hell year derailed my plans just like everyone else’s I did at least manage to set up this website, and send my novel out to some agents, and sell some t-shirts. I did, by my own standards, show off. It didn’t result in much in the way of success but that wasn’t the point. The point was to cultivate the new habit of thought. I am now a person who shows off what they’ve made. I hope that by this time next year I’ll be a person who finishes what they start.

Which is all very nice but which things? I’ve got a lot of works in progress and there’s a limit to how many I can be actively working on at once. 

In theory I could use my YoFT as a guide and pick the things that will be easy to finish. As if any of them were going to be easy. If they were easy to finish I would have finished them by now.

 Maybe I need to change my definition of ‘finished’. Does writing a complete podcast episode count as a task finished? How about recording an episode? Surely that’s two different tasks? How about a novel? Do I count it as finished when I’ve written enough to share with Beta readers? What about when I feel it’s ready to query? Does securing an agent count as a finished task? I ask because it’s really only the beginning of getting a book published.

What about my health? I’ve been trying to increase my activity levels and eat a more varied diet. That’s not really a task that’s ever finished. It’s more of a habit to be built and then maintained. Maybe I should set myself a target for maintaining the habit of health and then call that a completed task? Or is that cheating?

The more I think (and write) about this the more I think that I need to break everything down into projects. Rather than thinking about finishing, editing and querying an entire novel I should be thinking about sorting out the outline as one task and then working out where I want to go from there. I could decide on an experimental protocol for my attempts to eat more healthily and then follow that through, then write up the notes, and hey presto a finished task.

And now to the final question. Do I get to count things that happen in video games? They’re not real, and I very rarely truly finish a game but I do complete tasks. You know what? That’s between me and my spreadsheet. I’ll count what I want to.

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Older than you think. Swears a lot. Writer. Owner of the Walking-Stick-of-Doom. Has a personal backstory so tragic it could win Britain's got talent on its own.

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