I swear I AM going to do a real post on the writing workshops at Polaris with Brandon Sanderson and the other authors. They were amazing and I have a lot I want to say. I will do it within the next week. There, now I've put it out there, so there's pressure to deliver.
Today I want to offer the one piece of advice that Brandon emphasized over and over again.
It doesn't matter how good/bad/unique/original/terrible/cliche/whatever your book is if you never finish it. You can't edit it or do anything real with it if you never finish it.
He said, if you aren't being able to finish, you need to find out what it is that is keeping you from finishing it and get rid of it. FINISH.
This is the thing I am terrible at. I start a bunch of projects and then I get lost halfway through them and feel overwhelmed and don't know what to do. So I go back the beginning and try to rework it, but then I never get past where I've already written. Okay, not never, but it's a consistent problem in my writing life.
One of the panelists (I have this written down somewhere, but I'm too lazy to look it up now) told of a person in their critique group that turned in their first chapter something like 30 times. They'd take the feedback and rework and resubmit it. Over and over. But at the end of the day, they didn't actually have anything real to work with. One chapter and an idea in their head, which, I imagine, became so twisted from trying to incorporate everyone else's ideas, that it wasn't really their idea anymore.
Critique groups are fantastic. Reading partners are the bomb (waves at Lindsey). But if you allow that to keep you from finishing what you've started, you will never write a novel. If you keep rereading and trying to fix the beginning before you have an end, you will never write a novel. If you sit and blog and tweeter and play on Facebook and ignore your WIP, you will never write a novel.