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Learn by Finishing Things

October 24, 2014

Hello, dear readers! I hope you have had a lovely week and a wonderful weekend planned. Today, I just want to share one thought on learning today and that is the importance of finishing things. So let’s get to it.

If you’ve never had the chance to hear Neil Gaiman talk in person, I do hope that you’ll get the chance at some point. He is a fantastic speaker and it is always wonderful to hear him reading his work and sharing his thoughts about writing and creativity and life. While not as good as a talk in person, this video of Neil Gaiman talking about the importance of finishing things is almost the next best thing:

I love this advice, along with his 8 tips for writing, and believe that it is incredibly important advice to remember no matter what type of project you are creating. There is always enthusiasm in the beginning, then the hard work sets in and a lot of people let a lot of projects go when they get to the middle bit. The middle bit, of basically any big project, is not the fun part. It isn’t the beginning when you are energetic and everything seems lovely and wonderful. And, they’re not the end bit where you can see the light and time for a nap. The middle is hard, but the middle is where you put on your big girl panties and deal with it, as my momma would say. You keep going and then you finish your project. And you learn.

I try to help my students see that finishing their work, even if they don’t want to and even if it is more difficult than checking their texts, is important. That they will learn and feel accomplished by finishing projects, even if they seem audacious or impossible. In a 10-week quarter, this might mean tackling a research question they actually care about, rather than one that is easy. In their lives, it means whatever they want it to mean.

For me, finishing things makes me smile. The journey might be important, but if you never get to the destination the journey isn’t so hot either. In research, I’m not finished until I’ve written up the article, submitted it, revised it, and (with any luck) seen it published. I’d love to stop with just my research sometimes, but then I haven’t finished.

Just like with a blog post, nothing writes itself. It is up to us, always, to actually finish what we’ve started.

This is going to be the last blog post on The Waki Librarian for a while. I’m going on hiatus through the beginning of December while I try to finish a few other things and then see where I want this blog to go next. Have a lovely weekend, dear readers. Allons-y!

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