Getting to the end of your first book is a momentous occasion and a reason to celebrate. But it’s also an important milestone for your writing career. Many aspiring authors continue working on that first book for a long time, unsure when "enough is enough."
But finishing the book, especially that first manuscript, is crucial. Because knowing you know can complete a project will boost your confidence for future projects. Getting to the end of your story isn’t always easy.
Here are 5 tips to help you make it all the way to the HEA:
1. Give yourself permission to write crap –freeing yourself of your internal editor can really help when you’re feeling stuck. Get those words down, and worry about quality later. That's what revisions are for.
Now, that’s not to say that you should put out a book you’re not happy with. But sometimes relieving yourself of those voices in your head that are nitpicking every word will allow the story to get flowing again. Sometimes you’ll keep those words and sometimes you won’t. That’s totally fine. Writing is always better than staring at a blank page, even if the words end up on the cutting room floor.
2. Reward and motivate yourself – figure out what spurs you on. For me it’s tracking the words I do and seeing the total increase with each day of writing. Try giving yourself a “reward” for each chapter or each scene. That might be having a coffee, going for a quick walk, watching a video on YouTube or spending ten minutes (make sure you set a timer!) on Facebook.
3. Find some accountability– This might be your critique partner, some other writing buddies or someone in your life who’s not connected to the writing world. Tell them what you want to achieve (it works best if you have something concrete like a number of words, pages or chapters) and get them to ask you regularly to report on your progress.
4. Separate the editor and the writer –Writing and editing use different parts of the brain, and for many people it can be hard to get the words down if they’re also trying to edit as they go. Find a process that works for you. I edit earlier in my writing session (reading over my work from the day before) and then when I write, I don’t go back to editing.
If you come across an area where you need to do some research or look back earlier in the manuscript, you can always leave a comment in the document so when you come back to it the next day you can find that information then. This will prevent you from interrupting your flowing during the “writing/creative” portion of your writing session.
5. Break it down – saying you’re going to write 50,000 words (or 80,000 or 100,000) can be daunting. Chunk down your goal into manageable bite-sized pieces. 50,000 over a six-month period is just a little under 2,000 words per week. Which is 500 words a writing session if you write four days per week. Or, if you prefer to write a little every day, it's only 286 words per session. Now that sounds a little easier, doesn’t it?
Good luck! The end isn’t as far away as it seems.