On Your Mark … Get Set: Wait Am I a Starter or a Finisher?

horses raceAre you a Starter or a Finisher?

To some degree, you’re probably both. However, I’m sure you lean one way or the other. It’s important to look inside and ask yourself that question. It could save you a lot of headache down the road.

If you’re a starter, you always come up with new ideas, new projects and a great new story. You jump in with both feet and pound out something amazing … until the moment you realize you have to finish. The details of finishing are what slow us down. You’d rather be starting a new project.

If you’re a finisher, you love to clean up the mess. You might struggle with the initial chapters or words. Once you get going—you can’t be stopped. You’re probably great at organizing what needs to be done and very detailed oriented.

Knowing which you are can be very helpful. In our world of Indie writing, we try to be both. Sometimes, that just doesn’t work. I would go further and say that most of us are starters. Typically, most entrepreneurs are starters and if you are an indie author … you are definitely an entrepreneur … whether you think so or not.

So what do we do? We need to hire editors, illustrators, graphic designers and more. “What? I can’t afford that!” you scream. It’s actually the opposite. First, as indie authors we have to put out high quality work; our future depends on it. Regardless of that piece, let’s talk about what “starters” do … they start things.

Let me give you an example. As a sales manager in the business world, I identified the starters and finishers on my teams. If a starter were left to deal with all the details to finalize an agreement, the sale would stall. Frustration sets in, workflow slows down, and skill sets are wasted.

I know what you’re going to say: “I can’t afford all of these people to help me.”

It’s actually the opposite. Either you delegate or you stagnate. You will spend four times as much effort, energy, and hours trying to do the things that you should send to the experts. Editing … one of the biggest issues in the indie author world. An editor will do it faster, better and in the end, cheaper than you could do it yourself. There has been a ton of great posts here on Indies Unlimited about hiring editors. Most are willing to work with you to make it affordable. Once you hand it off, you can sink your teeth into another project, because … you know … you are a starter.

Take a moment to think about whether you are a finisher or a starter. It will save you time and money in the long run. I’ve always said that it’s not the few books that you have published that will put you on the map … It’s the three books that you haven’t finished that will catapult your career. Whether you’re in it for money, fame, or filling a need, recognize in yourself the best path to that goal.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

5 thoughts on “On Your Mark … Get Set: Wait Am I a Starter or a Finisher?”

  1. Jim, nice post. And I agree, it’s important to know our strengths and weaknesses so we can accommodate both. I absolutely love to start things; I LOVE staring at a blank sheet of paper and imagining all sorts of things for it. I’m not so good at finishing. The good news is that if I get to that un-fun point, I can put a book aside and come back to it later when I can be excited about starting it again from a fresh point. So yes, we need to know the little tricks to keep ourselves going, and if that means working with others who can keep the fire lit, so be it.

  2. You’re right. I am some of both. I love the new idea and can get going pretty quickly. The middle is the hardest. The a spring to the finish. But I do use an editor and would never get my work out without her. I do know my weaknesses and know enough not to waste time and frustration doing those parts that will only mire me in frustration and defeat. So, aside from editing, I get someone (Rich Meyer) to do my formatting, too.

  3. Write (pardon the pun) on the money, as usual, Jim; speaking from one who has started many, many projects that are waiting in my ‘Ideas & Inspirations’ folder for me to get around to.

    Excellent post, Jim.

  4. I like the post, Jim, but I’m mostly a mudder. Starters might make it out of the gate fast, finishers close on the pole to win by a nose. Me, I grind. Lots of ideas but I lock on the one I need to finish even if another story looks way more sexy.

    If I make a habit of switching instead of grinding, I’ll be done, I won’t ever finish anything.

    Once the story is done though, I punt. I use a cover designer and editor while I get on with the next story.

    I will mix two types of writing if they are wildly different – fiction with a how-to, for example, which is what I’m doing now.

  5. I’m here to represent the finishers. 😀 I don’t get a ton of ideas, and sometimes it takes me a while to develop the ones I do have. But once I’ve got the idea, I have to finish it and get it out the door.

    Still, I agree with you, Jim. Any project goes faster and ends better if you let the experts do what they’re best at, so you can do what *you’re* best at.

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