I had the fortune of finishing my first novel of 2018 the day after Halloween. After almost an entire year of starting, stopping, starting, stopping, starting, going, going, going, stopping, deleting, etc, the end has finally come.
Finishing a book is comparable to climbing a mountain or racing a marathon. It’s both of those things yet neither one. Writing a book to completion is an entirely mental feat. The push to finish can take months or years but once you get there…oh, man, fireworks!
Yet many writers never get there. They start out fully intending to but ‘reasons’ get in the way. Maybe it’s work, family, school, any number of life things. The days go by and you stop writing. Weeks pass, maybe years, and that manuscript is still haunting your dreams. The lamest part of all is that the longest you are away from your writing, the harder it is to go back to it.
Finishing takes grit and discipline. I know you can do it, and that’s why I’d like to share a few tips that I use in order to finally type “THE END”.
Make Finishing a Priority
This is going to vary from writer to writer, but all I can do is share what works for me in this regard.
Priority means that, aside from my family, day job, and basic responsibility, nothing else can take the lead on my life until the book is finished. Priority, for you, will largely depend on your schedule and the activities that make up your free time. What can you sacrifice for a little while until at least the first draft is finished?
Video games? I love them but haven’t played regularly in months. Every time I sat down to turn on Skyrim, I thought about another chapter I could write.
Television? Sometimes you need that break but writing can still come first.
Priority means making that manuscript first in your life aside from the obvious. It looks like getting up early in the morning, staying up a little later, writing on the weekend or days off from work, sitting many hours at the computer working hard to put in the words. It feels like persistence, work, and is often exhausting. Too many times writers say that they want to finish writing their books but end up not putting that very goal in front of everything else.
Writing must come first. Sorry.
Write Fast, Write Daily
I learned this trick from my fellow writers in an author group and it has helped me immensely. Some days I get over 3k words in while others I may get under 500, but I sit daily and write. This is the only way that I am able to stay connected to the story in a way that fuels obsession, which is eventually what takes me to the end. Writing fast means I don’t have time to second guess myself very much and the story becomes something I think about constantly. Ideas for scenes and character motivation comes to me throughout the day then I go home and write them down. Or I wake up early and write. Adding a bit of story to the manuscript each day helps me stay committed to my goal and the words stack up before I know it.
Set a Deadline
This is imperative. You must have a due date or else finishing might not become a reality. One trick that works for me to is to set up a pre-order on Draft 2 Digital as a way of having a set goal to work towards. Having readers purchase that pre-order lights a fire under my behind like nothing else, if you know what I mean.
If you establish a date to finish your draft by, you will also be able to track your work each day or weekly as you add on words, and you will look back on your progress as you inch closer to the deadline. It doesn’t have to be a stressful experience if you miss that deadline either, but it is nice to have in order to make finishing your novel a very real goal set in stone.
The best part of it all. Once you finish your novel, treat yourself to something new, a dinner out (I got Mexican), or a fun activity you’ve been dying to do while you’ve been stuck indoors typing. But perhaps the best thing that helps to clear your mind is to treat yourself often. After every chapter, I would take a breather by going on a walk, playing with my cats, or watching an X-Files episode with my husband. I allowed my mind to gain distance from the story by giving myself a much deserved break. Then, when my mind was refreshed, I hit up the word count again, rejuvenated.
Typing the final words on your book can happen. You can get it done! I have faith in you!
If you have finished a project, or several, have you any tricks and tips to share with your fellow writers?
What have you done to get to the finish line? What has helped you the most?
What might you encourage your fellow writers to do/not to do?