Monday, March 25, 2013

How to finish a book

I hear a lot from people who want to know how to FINISH a book.  It's pretty easy to start one, but it's even easier to get distracted and abandon it.  Here's my thoughts on how to get from beginning to end.

#1: FOCUS. This may sound obvious, but I see a lot of writers getting distracted trying to build a platform on social media. When I started my second draft of Crewel, I decided to step back from blogging and twitter and commit to the book. As soon as I was querying, I started up again. And now when I'm on deadline/drafting, I find that scaling back social media helps me focus on my project.

#2: EXPLORE. Outlines are great, but sometimes the trick to getting words on the page is to explore your story. Ask yourself what would be the most ridiculous or romantic or wild thing that could happen to your character, and then write that scene! Sometimes exploring opens up whole new storylines and dimensions in your book.

#3: DRAFT. Obviously you have to draft a novel to finish a novel. But the thing is that most people don't understand that drafts are just drafts. They aren't perfect. Sometimes they're crap. When you allow yourself to write a story from A to B recognizing that it will need editing and revision at the end, it's easier to get past the "I give up" phase. Give yourself permission to write crap.

#4: TALK. It's almost cliche to say "I'm writing a book" these days. I've had some snarky comments directed at me while out writing, so it can be scary to admit that's what you're doing. But talking about your work can give you accountability if you talk to the right people. Join writing groups, check out forums, sign up for NaNoWriMo. Tell people who will hold you accountable about your work.

#5. WANT. For the love of Doctor Who, write what you WANT to write. Don't worry about trends or landing an agent or getting a book deal. Believe me, pressure=resistance, and resistance is the enemy to writing.

#6: PLAN. As much as writing is a creative process, it's also a business. Being a little business-minded about your project isn't a bad thing. Give yourself daily goals and draft deadlines. Someday when you have a week to turn around edits, it won't be so horrible.

#7: DREAM. Yes, I believe in the power of visualization. I'm a bit of a hippy, remember? But, seriously, allow yourself to imagine getting a book deal, go to a bookstore and see where your book will be, or make a mock book cover with your name on it. If you want to write a book, you've already got a bit of the dreamer in you, embrace it.
Originally published on Facebook in a series of posts.  Join me on Facebook for more.  Have a question or topic of your own?  Ask it here.

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