Just Finish the Book Already…

Just Finish the Book Already…

I’m really good at coming up with book ideas. I can see the characters in my head, and they talk to me like I owe them money. I can imagine the beginning, middle and a didn’t-see-that- coming, intense ending. But when it comes down to it, I fall flat. I can write 3,000 words in a sitting and will get six, eight chapters in before I hit the proverbial brick wall.

This process has worn me down. I’ve even stopped telling people about my working plots (maybe it’s other people’s energy that keeps jinxing my projects), afraid that the project I’m excited about today won’t ever get finished. I even read other people’s work; terrible stuff that I hope will kick me in the butt and make me write. I chastise myself, thinking “if this crap has been published, what am I waiting on?”

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that 2012 has been all about getting outside my comfort zone. It’s a deceiving little place, as it feels so warm and cozy and it really makes me think that staying home instead of networking is a good idea. In the past, I’ve convinced myself that continually changing plot direction or changing characters will work. Truth is, its a game I play that only keeps me away from a finished book.

Now, I’m throwing that kind of thinking out the window. I’m telling myself that if I can see it in my head, and if it touches me in a way that I think will resonate with others, it must be good enough to finish.  I owe it to the creativity that is bursting to get out, the chance to be seen by the world.

Here are three things you can do to see yourself to the finish line:

1. Take Advantage of Momentum-

Starting is the easy part. It’s keeping the energy up and seeing a project to completion that’s hard. In order to actually finish a project, you’ve got to ride the wave of momentum when it’s there. If you’re in the mood to write, WRITE! Stay up until 3am if you have to, just write while it’s fresh on your mind.

2. Stop Being Ashamed of Your Ugly Baby-

Many of us find it hard to let other people read our stuff. We are reluctant to even let an editor touch it, afraid they will judge our writing like its a baby we just gave birth to. The truth is, not everybody is going to like your writing. Whether your book proves to be that gorgeous, award winning baby on the cover of magazines, or a strange little thing nobody takes a second look at, it yours. Stop being ashamed of it. Keep writing as if nobody will ever see it, and maybe one day they’ll love it.

3. Write Every Single Day-

Successful writers write every day, not just when they feel like it. Being self disciplined is half the battle, and if you can manage to write every day towards a bigger writing goal, you’re well on your way. I give myself 1,000 word chunks to finish daily. Do I sometimes fall asleep when I’ve only penned 879? Yes. But after I wipe drool from my mouth, I finish the last 121 words and call it a night. Reading what I’ve written the next day sometimes proves to be jibberish, but at least I’ve gotten a few words closer to my overall goal.

It’s the hardest thing some of us have ever done, and we want our life’s work to be perfect. But since it will never be perfect, do yourself a favor and just finish the book already!

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Comments

  1. Hi Racheal,

    Excellently written blog post. I struggle with the same thing – finishing. I do good completing short term goals and small projects, but when it comes to finishing a big, lengthy, important project, I give up near the end (did this with college several times).

    I am currently writing two books (a lot to handle, but I have the time) and I fear that I won’t finish them because I know they will take months or possibly years to complete. However, I wrote my autobiography when I was 28 and published it, so that success gives me the confidence that I can complete the two books I’m currently working on (however, they are going to be longer – possibly double the size of my autobiography).

    Your tips for finishing are right on: write when you have the desire (especially), and write even when you don’t. As far as getting over feeling bashful about people reading your writing…the insecurity goes away the more you publish, whether it be blog posts, articles, or books. I suggest adding to your list: keep your eyes on the prize (your tip about writing every day helps with this).

    Good luck! You can do it! We can do it 🙂

    • Thanks Christine! You’re absolutely right that the anxiety goes away the more people see your work. And for those who are still battling the fear, they miss out on the love and support that will come once they let go of the fear.

  2. Deborah K. Anderson says:

    Go Racheal, go Racheal, go Racheal!

    Great post.

  3. Good advice! Writing a novel is hard. I’m now writing every single day and joined a critique group (both force me write on those days I don’t feel like it). Having a routine and group to turn to has helped me to crank those pages out!

  4. You know it’s funny because I write better when I write faster. People think just getting the words down means you have to write a terrible first draft. It doesn’t. When I fast draft, I know where the story is going and I dive into the characters, letting them take over. The writing flows better and I surprise myself by some of the things I come up with. Do I need to revise? Of course! But my drafts are never terrible. I found I struggled when I took my time writing a book. So don’t think your draft is going to turn out sub-par just because you are writing faster. Good luck!

    • I think taking months and years to complete a book only allows us to think too hard on it. I am learning to write faster (I heard Amanda Hocking finishes books in two weeks!) Thanks for the comment!

  5. Getting that first draft done is a big step, and a great accomplishment. Wrapping up the umpteenth, that’s the even greater challenge!

  6. I hear ya, Racheal! Keep plugging away. I know I’m going to. I’ve had the same issues, get to chapter 4 or 5 and I don’t know what to do anymore. My spark goes away and I get my writing fix by posting on my blog. It’s like…blogging keeps my wheels greased so that I don’t go completely numb to writing. I just can’t jump back on my story. 😦

  7. Keep at it, Racheal! I think you’ll surprise yourself with what you end up with. Even small word counts every day keep the creative flow going, and lead to the finish line.
    Happy writing! 🙂

  8. I think I could have written parts of this blog myself. Especially the “I chastise myself, thinking “if this crap has been published, what am I waiting on?” part.

    Happy writing…

  9. Reading this post was like looking into my own brain. How weird! I always have super ideas, and then blah out when it comes to getting past 10,000-words! Yes! Keep going! Have fun along the way, when the time (and idea) is right, it’ll happen; you just have to make it happen. 🙂

  10. Hi Racheal,

    I am part of your blogging class and just wanted to drop by and check out your blog. I really enjoyed this post because I think that these are issues that all of us writers struggle with. Last year I participated in National Novel Writing Month, a one month challenge to write 50,000 words – no matter how good, bad, or ugly! It definitely breaks you of getting caught up in perfectionism and I would suggest it to anyone interested in actually finishing a rough draft of their novel!

  11. Thank you so much for writing this post. I’m just starting out and a bit scared but I just need to finish and cast my cares to the wind. Thanks again!

    • Thanks for the comment! Just starting out, I was just as scared and nervous to share my work with strangers (or even people I knew). I just stop giving a crap about what people thought and got to writing! I still struggle, but we all do, and we always will. Best of luck to you and your writing 🙂

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