Here’s how to finish your novel this year: don’t let the months slip by, get proactive so that this is the year it happens. Whether you’re writing a first novel or your fourth, follow these ten tips to reach your writing goals:
How to finish your novel this year: Get organised and ensure productive thinking
- Take the time to write
The first step is taking the time to write. Speak with your family and loved ones and help them to understand that this is something that you need to do and that they must give you the time and space. If you have older children, create a roster of chores so that you have more time available for your creative work.
- Get a story plan together that will see you through to the end
As the saying goes, ‘ a goal without a plan is just a wish.’ Find an outlining method that works for you and start making a dent. Once you have a vivid idea of what you’re writing about and you have fleshed it out enough tyou can get started on writing in earnest.
- Plan your writing and word count targets
Writing a novel is a demanding and challenging process. If you want to know how to finish your novel this year, start with dividing up the task ahead of you into manageable chunks of time. Write a hundred (or a few hundred) words per day and reward yourself when you reach your targets so you stay motivated. Even if you only write one page or about 250 words per day, five days per week, every week, at the end of this year, you’ll have written 65,000 words or about 260 pages. That’s on the short side for a novel, but it’s plenty to expand on for the second draft.
- Have a system in place for silencing doubts
Many aspiring authors lose heart because they are prone to self-doubt. Place motivating, encouraging quotes around your work space. Get a writing coach who will keep you on track and voice criticism fairly and constructively. You could also journal your fears and concerns as you go. Once you’ve written down what you are unsure about, put this aside and carry on. Your concerns will be useful when you start revising your work.
- Avoid comparing yourself to other writers
You’ve given yourself one year to write a novel. Many famous authors took much longer than that to write books considered masterpieces. Others churned out their best work in a matter of weeks. Writers’ abilities and speed differ so widely that it is best not to compare yourself. There will always be ‘better’ writers (but there will always be worse too!)
- Use your time effectivelyIf you want to finish writing your novel this year, you need to recognize the difference between things that look like writing and things that really are writing. You know that daydreaming, research and outlining are all work, but they are no substitute for putting words on the page. You know that reading writer forums on the Internet can be educational, but that won’t get your novel written. To stay productive, work in small time increments and do those other things you enjoy between as a reward for sticking to your plan.
- Avoid perfectionism
Nobody gets everything right – characterization, description, scene-setting and so forth – in the first draft. Allow yourself to write clumsy, ugly sentences when you’re feeling stuck and unable to find the perfect image or flow. Pushing through will help you to get the basics of the story down. You can go back and put on your Perfectionist Editor hat when it comes to revising.
- Prepare yourself for the middle hump
Advice on how to finish your novel this year would be incomplete without a word of caution on story middles. The middle of a story is where complications usually mount, but it is also a point in the story arc where your story’s sense of direction falters. Prepare yourself for the middle hump. Consider writing the middle of your novel first or simply outline the middle in more detail before you start writing.
- You have a writing buddy
Challenging processes can be so much easier when we have someone to talk to, someone who is undertaking the same process. Find a writing buddy among your friends or join an online writing group to strike up camaraderie that will keep you motivated and focused on telling the story you’ve been wanting to share for forever.
- You want to finish your novel, badly
What many successful authors have is commitment and drive. They love the storytelling process, the self-discovery and creativity it involves, and they also love the act of sharing their imagination, their beliefs and impressions with others. Remind yourself daily of how badly you want to start and finish a novel and make it a priority. Cut back on activities that take up time but are non-essential (such as TV viewing – the programs will still be there to watch when your novel is complete).
Are you going to finish writing your novel this year? Find out how the Now Novel process will help you become a writer.
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