To pass on another tip that might save you some wasted time and effort- finish! One little word but so very important. If I had got my head round this sooner, I would be in a better position now.
You need to finish your story, come hell or high water.
My computer is littered with dozens of half completed stories. As harsh as it may sound, those represent wasted time for me and a great deal of it at that. It is only in the last year or two I have got my head round seeing something through until the end.
Dabbling a bit can be fun and you may argue it is good practice but what is even better is finishing a story, that is far better experience for you.
You get a better sense of structure when you complete your story. You see your character development at work rather than what simply what you had planned. You may say you want the grizzled mercenary to be revealed as having a heart of gold but if you don’t finish, you can’t track their story arc, you will assume you could have conveyed that but you didn’t actually do it.
I also think it is good for morale to see a list of completed tales rather than a parade of half started ones. I think for a writer morale is your most delicate resource, you need to do what you can to keep it intact. Finishing your stories will help that.
There are so many advantages to finishing your story.
Stick with your story and finish it.
When trying to write a story I tend to find there are five emotional stages (for me at least).
Stage 1: Excitement and enthusiasm for the new project, you are fired up, bursting with ideas and can’t wait to start.
Stage 2: Eagerness as you get down to brass tacks and start to properly write it, you feel like a proper writer and couldn’t step away from the keyboard even if you wanted to.
Stage 3: Fatigue, you start entertaining ideas of other, supposedly better stories. You get sick of your story and the characters you are working on. WARNING this is the most dangerous stage for not finishing your story. It is at this point most of us, myself included on plenty of occasions, throw in the towel to either half finish another story or give up altogether.
Stage 4: Self-doubt, as you near the end it is not uncommon to feel what you are writing is trash. Don’t view this as your magnum opus, this is your story. It is better than you think and is good practice. Just finish it. The only way this will be a waste of time is if you don’t finish. David Gemmell wrote a detective novel, his first, that was awful by his own admission- he never even got it published. But by finishing, he realised the detective story arc wasn’t for him and turned to fantasy. He became one of the most successful writers in the genre (if you haven’t, go read Legend).
Was his first, awful detective book a waste of time?
If he hadn’t finished it he may have half started a dozen more detective stories. So even if you think it is trash, finish it anyway. I bet it won’t be and will be far better than you expect.
Stage 5: Overwhelming relief and a sense of accomplishment when you push through the self-doubt and finish. You did it, yay! Break out the bubbly.
I’ll say it one more time- FINISH!
It’s the most valuable lesson I have learned.
On a lighter note, this is the most insane wine description I have ever seen. It was at an Edinburgh restaurant Chez Jules I went to for lunch. Like most of Edinburgh, if you go down any street, you will find a great restaurant.