A whole lot of writers there are in fact still learning. Which means many writers are asking for advice. (A good thing, because it gives me fodder to write about.)
One of those things that people keep asking about is about commitment.
Things like: "How do I stay committed to the stories I'm writing? I always start stories, but I never finish them."
Usually, my immediate response would be: "Say no to the shiny new ideas, then. Make a choice to stay committed and keep going."
I think there's more going on to this question than "You're just not committed."
Well, I think back to when I was a writer learning the craft. I started seven drafts that I was excited about. I finished exactly none of them. At the time, I also thought it was commitment issues. Which was why, when draft number 8 came along, I started blogging about it as an accountability measure.
The thing is, in retrospect, I realized that The Vanished Knight happened as the result of a happy coincidence of commitment and just enough writing knowledge to get by.
Because in those other seven drafts, I'd be all excited and write, then suddenly something would just make me go meh and stop. And that something is my whole point.
That something was something that was wrong with the story. A Mary-Sue character. Lack of conflict. Lack of stakes. Lack of proper motivation. Lack of focus. (And on... and on... and on.)
There's always something that makes a serious difference between our expectation and reality. And when we realize that reality isn't stacking up, we stop.
That's what I did. (In fact, I still do it. I just changed my habits a slight bit.)
So how did I finish The Vanished Knight? (Actually that's a much longer story, but anyway.) I fell in love with the characters and concept and committed myself to finish it. Same as always. Except I added a blog to keep myself motivated. But that would NOT have helped me if not for the next thing I did.
I committed myself to figuring out what went wrong in the previous "failed" drafts so that I didn't make those same mistakes again.
Yes. I recognized that there would be flaws in my story ahead of time and set about correcting them before they happened. And this time, I was lucky enough that I had learned enough to get all the way to the end.
So if you're still struggling with finishing your first book, take heart. Use all your previous mistakes as lessons. Find what made them stop working, and then make sure you're not doing the same things in your current project. I promise you that you;ll at least get further than you did before. (Unless you go chasing after every bright idea that comes your way. In which case, read here.)
To the new kids: How many tries have you made? To the old hands at this writing thing: How many tries did it take you to finish one book?