Monday, April 17, 2017

Finishing School (Cary Tennis and Danelle Morton)

Finishing School
Cary Tennis and Danelle Morton
Tarcher Perigee
Nonfiction, Writing
**** (Good)

DESCRIPTION: Many people have unfinished stories in their drawers, attics, or computer hard drives. The mystery novel started in college, the memoir of a family tragedy, the articles on your hometown history, the short story stubs you meant to follow through on... even professional writers often have those projects that never seem to get done. Simple logic tells you that, if you don't write your stories, nobody else ever will - but simple logic doesn't make it any easier to pick up a dusty manuscript, or clear time in a too-hectic schedule, or overcome the obstacles like fear and shame that grow like thorns around unfinished projects over time. To help, authors Tennis and Morton present a method that has helped them, and countless others, organize their time and get the motivation they needed to put the final period on that long-neglected project.

REVIEW: As a writer myself, I know my proverbial trunk is packed far too full of novels, story stubs, and free-range ideas, so when I saw this title I figured it could help. The concept of "Finishing School" involves committing to smaller steps and holding oneself accountable via a group and the "buddy system" - not to critique or judge, as many writing groups do, but simply to have that outside person to answer to for doing (or not doing) what you need to do. It needn't even be active writing; just committing time to get back to an old or thorny project and look it over, to decide what the next step is, is invaluable. The idea gels with other material I've been reading lately on time management and thinking of projects in terms of just "the next step." Both authors came at the subject with different backgrounds and approaches to writing, each adding a different voice in favor of the Finishing School method. They start with a section on the reasons people commonly abandon projects (many of which ring true, though a few felt like they struck just to the side of the bullseye from my experiences), followed by a description of the process and its results for themselves and others. It's an interesting idea, one I intend to try - though I may have to hybridize it, as I have notoriously poor luck with group activities.

You Might Also Enjoy:
Write That Book Already! (Sam Barry and Kathi Kamen Goldmark) - My Review
The Habit Fix (Eileen Rose Giadone) - My Review
You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One) (Jeff Goins) - My Review

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