The Fine Art of Finishing

So, you’ve had an excellent idea, you’ve done your worldbuilding, nailed down your characters, done some plotting and started the work! Congratulations!

You’ve done the easy part.

As a person with quite a few finished texts, and a good many more unfinished ones, over my brief career I have developed a few simple steps that can turn the process of completing a novel from incredibly difficult to merely difficult.

1. Don’t skip to the cool parts

Yeah, I know, you have an awesome battle scene and you can’t wait to unload your personal favourite’s backstory and you have so many ideas to delight the audience!

Don’t.

Write a general idea of them so you don’t’ forget them if you have to, but skipping ahead to the interesting bits of your story can ruin motivation to write the connecting parts. Building the motivation to write the small details and plot stuff is hard enough at the best of times, and keeping the awesome part as something to look forward to can be a motivation tool to get the extra bits done.

2. Write Now. Right Now. Write Right Now

images1Don’t miss an opportunity to write. Whether it’s half an hour before class or when you get home from work, even if you’re writers-blocked and all you do is spend ten minutes sitting at your desk staring blankly at the screen writing why can’t I write over and over again, building the habit of writing can give you the momentum to get through the hard parts and keep you productive when you otherwise might give up. Very little is more damaging to productivity than coming back to your writing after two weeks and realising, ‘Oh damn I’ve completely fallen out of this.’

3. Find your writing environment

Some people can write just anywhere, under any circumstances. These are the people everyone else hates. The rest of us mere mortals need to figure out your environment before we can really get to work. Whether that’s atmospheric music, comfortable furniture, outside, inside, desk or bed, figure out where, when and how you write best, and keep yourself in that situation as much as possible. Avoid any unexpected or strange influences. Taking a moment to prepare a good working environment can boost productivity significantly.

4. Just get it down

downloadIt doesn’t matter if it’s good enough, first drafts are garbage and they’re allowed to be garbage. That’s why we have second drafts and beta readers and editing. The more you reread and rethink, the more things will seem bad, and the more you’ll have to think about the exact right thing. The right thing will come as you revise and redraft. The goal of the first draft is to get the story done, you can fix it in editing. Nail that phrase into your head ‘fix it in editing, fix it in editing,’ until you can let an error go.

5. Make Writing Friends

Not just writer friends, writing friends, friends you can share writing thoughts and ideas and characters and dumb stuff with. You can say all the weird writer junk, drone about characters with them for hours on end. They’ll do the same back and you might get some good ideas. Meet people who will make writer goals with you and commiserate over that one part you can’t finish. Having a support network based on what you do cannot be overstated. Writing is a solo business, bring friends.

These aren’t magic bullets.  I can’t say for sure that if you do these things you’ll finish handily. You’re almost certainly still going to have a couple of projects that are resigned to the failure pile forever, but if there’s something you have the motivation to do, that book you’ve always wanted to write, this should help.

-By Robert J Barlow

 

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Published in: on October 22, 2017 at 6:51 am  Leave a Comment  

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