The 80% Rule: Why It’s Hard to Finish

I was Skyping with my dad recently, and he asked how I was progressing in one of my novels. One of the novels that’s not quite finished, heh heh. I told him that no, I was still working on it, and later that day I forced myself to open it and make a few small changes. I could finish editing this book in a day if I wanted to, so why is it taking months? Something tells me I’m not the only one with this problem, either.

A long time ago I remember hearing someone talk about an 80% rule that seems just about accurate. Whenever you’re working on something independently, even if it’s something you’re really passionate about, your inspiration will totally die off when you’re about 80% done. It doesn’t matter what the project is–knitting, sculpting, or writing. Most of it might go off without a hitch, but then when you’re most of the way done, it just stops. You can’t bring yourself to face another blank page, edit that last chapter, or to do anything at all related to it. It’s a mix of being sick of working more on this project that you’ve been seeing so much of and feeling overconfident that since you’re almost done, you don’t need to work as hard.

hare
Like the guy in the postage stamp.

Just like the hare in Aesop’s fable, we reach a certain point where we’re so far ahead that a mild euphoria overcomes us. We can stop in our tracks, take a nap, play a game. Chat with friends and people you barely know on Facebook. And then we wonder why that novel never got finished.

Yeah, maybe my metaphors suck, but I think it’s time to get back to it. By the end of the week I will have another novel finished, by hook or by crook! Feel free to join my challenge; I’d like knowing that I’m not alone!

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