Writing fiction is an act of faith and courage. Whether you’re a plotter, or a pantser, you believe that you can write a novel. So you start writing. Then for one reason or another, you stop.
Your faith and courage in that project have vanished.
Most of my students have been writing fiction for years, and they’ve all got partial novels on their hard drives.
One student had (I still can’t believe this) 22 partial novels. Amazing. By “partial” I mean he’d written more than a single scene or chapter. His partials all had more than four chapters; some of the novels were a few thousand words short of done.
Writing fiction becomes easier with practice
After you do something once (tie your shoelaces, create a budget, drive a car) repeating the action is easier — you know how to do it. Do something ten or 20 times, and the activity becomes easy for you. Do an activity 100 times: it’s become habitual.
This means that if you give up on a novel once, you’re more likely to do it again. Equally, complete a novel once or twice, and your creative self takes the “I’ll finish this” concept on board.
Finish your novel in seven days
Why seven days?
Why not? 🙂
The time limit is purely arbitrary. Make it seven hours, or three weeks. What counts is that you DECIDE to finish by a certain date.
Here’s why you give yourself a deadline: it eliminates doubt.
You’re not writing because doubt’s transfixed you. You want to be brilliant, you’re not sure you can be, so you write nothing all.
1. Make a commitment to completing every novel or story you start
Our first tip is: commit to finishing what you start. No excuses. When you start a:
- Short story;
- Series of novels…
Commit yourself to finishing your project, no matter what.
It’s a simple decision. Make it right now.
2. Outline what you’ve written
Grab your unfinished novel. Write an outline of what you have. If you already have an outline, delete that, and write a new outline — your aim is to get back into the story.
Read the outline in bed, just before you fall asleep. Tell yourself that when you wake in the morning, you’ll have three brilliant ideas to complete your novel.
It will probably surprise you when you do have some great ideas. No ideas? That’s OK. You’ll get them when you’re writing.
Now let’s look at finishing.
3. Write: accept the words which come to mind, no matter how dumb they seem
Here’s why you’re not finishing novels. You’re too hard on your creative self.
Think of your creative self as being a separate part of yourself, because in many ways it is. This aspect of yourself loves to play. It hides and won’t cooperate when you’re stressed.
When you sit down to write, spend a little time making yourself happy first. I like to do crossword puzzles and doodle. Maybe you like to play music. Take ten minutes or so for this — you don’t want to become so relaxed that you fall asleep.
Now, start writing. Write down the words that pop into your head. Any words. Your aim is solely to get words onto the computer screen, or into your paper notebook. (The Easy-Write Process helps.)
Remember: any words. Write a shopping list if you like; writing begets writing. You need to prime the pump so that your creativity begins to flow.
Writing fiction is daydreaming and writing
I’ve often said that writing fiction is daydreaming.
Start daydreaming and finish your novel. You can do it. 🙂
If you've ever dreaded writing, or felt that writing was too hard, you'll love the Easy-Write Process.
The Easy-Write Process changed my life; I developed it over several years of struggling with writing. When I taught the Easy-Write process to my writing students, they achieved great results too. Please enjoy the Easy-Write Process -- I wish you much success with it.More info →
I developed the tactics and strategies in this book to help myself. My students have found them essential to producing both fiction and nonfiction almost effortlessly.More info →
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