We are all familiar with the fear and dread the blank page puts into the heart of the writer struggling to get started, but many writers will also tell you of the struggle at the other end, with finishing their great work. Recognising when enough is enough, making sure you have tied up the loose ends and editing, all conspire to stop writers putting the pen down.Here are our top tips to getting your novel finished.
Author Neil Gaiman famously said, ‘This is how you do it. You sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.’ Words may flow easily for the first couple of chapters, when you are full of enthusiasm and ideas, but many authors will tell you that will only get you so far. You will hit a wall and like runners you just have to keep going when those words are elusive, you will hit your stride again – have the courage to keep going.
Live and breathe your characters and plot, explore their motivations, thoughts and feelings even when you are away from your writing desk. These periods of time day dreaming about the lives of your characters will give your writing depth.
Laziness Breeds Laziness
If you leave a story untouched for a while you will find it hard to pick it back up. However hard you are finding it, keep going through the tough times. This doesn’t necessarily mean gluing yourself to your chair and staring into distance, uninspired. You could take yourself off on a research trip, immersing yourself in the location of your work, doing activities your characters like to do or taking a trip to the library for more academic research.
Set Targets and Make Time
Whether it’s a daily or weekly word count or page count, or writing one scene a day it helps if you can aim to get a certain amount done on a daily or weekly basis. If you’re really stuck try using a writing prompt (many can be found online) to get your creative juices flowing and see if those help you take a new direction in your writing.
Editing Comes Next
Try not to over edit as you write. The important thing is to get the ideas down and the shape and feel of the story right. You can worry about finessing every last word and syllable in the edit. Michael Crichton said “Books aren’t written—they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”
We are all familiar with the fear and dread the blank page puts into the heart of the writer, struggling to get started, but many writers will also tell you of the struggle at the other end, with finishing their great work.