Hello! I hope I'm not bothering you by asking, but how long does it take you to write things? I'm very new to writing and I feel like I'm working at snails pace in comparison to others. And do you have any tips for actually finishing something? I feel like I start working on a million projects as the plot bunnies attack and I never actually finish anything that I start.
Oh no, it’s no bother! I love being asked questions, and I only hope I can offer you something useful with this.
First off, don’t worry about your writing pace! I know it might be discouraging, seeing other writers update seemingly non-stop, but writing happens at its own time, and the only thing that really matters is finding a pace that’s comfortable for you. For me it varies – shorter prompts take maybe an hour or two, but they don’t demand much by way of continuity/plot/pacing and the things you need to keep an eye out for with longer fic. So with longfic I spend more time, sometimes hours, and sometimes if I’m struggling it might take days. And it depends on so many things, like what else is going on in my life, whether or not I’m stressed or relaxed etc. Writers aren’t machines, and sometimes you’ve just got to let a thing take the time it needs.
And as far as finishing things goes, I don’t really have the best track record, but I will tell you something that someone told me once, when I was a wee bab in fandom and fretting over my growing list of incomplete works: there’s beauty in work in progress. A lot of writers get hung up on the ‘completion’ part of writing, and while I agree (along with anyone who’s ever sat on the edge of their seat waiting for a favourite fic to update), completion is good, it makes you feel good and your readers happy. But consider this: all those plot bunnies, all those ideas you get, all the projects you think up throughout the day but never do anything about…the world would be a little bit better with their existence.
Artists do this – they post sketches, ideas, progress pics, and I love that. I love watching a piece of art develop, and why shouldn’t it be the same for writers? Stories come to life the same way a piece of art does – you have the first, rough notes that become paragraphs, then whole chapters. You edit and proofread like an artist cleans up their sketch and adds colour, shading.
Even if what you post never becomes more than just a snippet or a single chapter, it would exist, and it might make someone’s day – it might be that AU someone’s been dying to read, or maybe it’s a moment that really resonates with someone. It might be what shakes loose someone else’s art/writing block. The thing is, it exists now for people to enjoy.
People will disagree on this, but ultimately you are writing for you. It’s the beauty of fanfiction to explore ideas, but as writers we tend to get so caught up on the idea of pleasing others, it could easily suck the joy right out of writing. Of course, you’ve got to figure out what works best for you. Some writers tackle the issue of not finishing things by not posting fics until they’re complete, but others (like me) work differently. I get so much out of writing as I go, and yes, sometimes that means there will be lulls between updates, and sometimes I’ll post the start of a story that might never be more than a single chapter, but it exists, instead of gathering dust in my brain where it’s of no use to anyone.
So I have one tip: write. Start out small if longfic seems too daunting, and then work your way from there. Lately I’ve found prompts for stand-alone ficlets to be a wonderful thing. I’m currently in the midst of writing a thesis that is Big and Intimidating and feeling like I’ll never get it done, and the sense of completion I get from finishing prompts has really helped. So I’d recommend trying that, and from there you could move on to shorter stories with two or three parts, and see where that takes you!
tl;dr: WIPs ARE GREAT, and the world is better with your stories, complete or not.