Being finished with a piece of writing is an interesting concept. In some ways, writing is never finished. We can always think of a different way to say something or something new to put into an article, essay, dissertation, or book. Sometimes, if we’re really involved in the piece, we’ll wake up at night with ideas we hadn’t considered before or that we’ve reworked in sleep (Hint: Keep a notebook and pen handy for those moments of brilliance!). Sometimes, my best ideas come when I’m in the pool swimming laps. No notebook available there, but I write them down or speak them into my cell phone when I return to the locker room. So, being truly finished is a rare thing. You’ll know you’ve hit “finished” when the project not only feels done, but it actually is done and defended successfully or published in some manner. What comes next? For people who have worked long and hard on a lengthy piece of writing like a thesis or book, sometimes it’s necessary to take time away from writing anything but certainly from that project. I’ve known people who won’t even look at a dissertation for two or more years after it is turned in! But for most of us, being finished means starting anew. It offers the opportunity to look at the problem we’ve worked through a different way or to examine an entirely new issue. Writing as an adult professional isn’t like writing for school projects. We typically don’t do them just because we have to; hopefully, we write because we have something to say and want to say it to others who can benefit from reading it. For writers or for anyone who must write in a profession, endings mean new beginnings. With luck and intention, those endings open up new opportunities, new delights in exploring ideas, and new understandings of the world in which we live.
- Keep a list of new ideas while you’re working on small and larger projects. Be ready to whittle down those ideas to ones that really matter to you. Get started as soon as you feel the urge to read, reflect, and write.
- Take a break after finishing a piece of writing, even if it is only for a few days. That’s a good time to clean off your desk of notes, books, and other debris. Take in a movie. Read a suspense or romance novel. Honor the ending with a dinner out with someone you care about. Then, with a freshened mind, begin anew.
- Avoid beginning a writing project just to get promoted or just to be published. That’s the worst possible reason to write. It will dull your brain, make you feel coerced into doing something odious, and cause you to struggle with words at every level. If you must publish for promotion and tenure, then find something truly worthy of your efforts. Remember that the best reason to write and publish something is that you have something of value to say and share.
- If you must write and hate writing or frequently experience a block, get a writing coach to help you figure out your next project and how to develop that project to the best of your advantage. Good coaches help with all aspects of writing—the soup to nuts of idea development, organization, drafting, offering feedback, discussing emotional blocks and cognitive concerns, and revising and editing.
- Finish something, yes! Be pleased and proud! And then, start anew!