To answer what might be the first question you have, the first reason you probably haven’t finished your book is the fact that you haven’t started your book.
The most common question I get is, “What does one have to do to write a book?” The answer sounds rude or condescending, but it’s just simple truth. You have to write. You have to put aside time every day to sit down and work on your book. If you never do that, then it’s academic. You can’t ever finish a thing you didn’t start.
So that means I can talk about the “other” reason.
The simple explanation: When you’re writing your book. Don’t. Stop. I remember talking to my brother, I’m not sure if I finished my first manuscript or not, but he mentioned trying to write a book, and he said he wrote one sentence over and over again. That’s when it dawned on me.
One reason why I’m able to crank out novels is because I’m relentless. I don’t stop to edit. I don’t stop to think about how the book works. When it’s time to draft (write the actual story), I just let my fingers fly, and I’ve learned just how hard that is for some people to do.
Now, as I teach journalism, I see the same issue. I’ve sat, my heart breaking, as I watched students write a few words. Then they’d stop and look up how to write something or see if a term should be abbreviated. Then they’ll type a few more words or a sentence and then manipulate it for a painful amount of time.
The motivation of someone wanting their writing to have a high quality product is understandable, but here is the most valuable advice I can give a person aside from, “write.” That advice is, “Draft now; edit later!”
If you agonize over a sentence or a scene, you’ll never finish. You need to let go. Trust the Force! I’ll admit this thought is hard for some to understand. It’s equally hard for me to understand why people can’t just pound out the words, but it happens.
I promise, there is a time to edit. There is a time to look at your story and mold it into its greatest potential, but that time doesn’t come until you have a completed (start to finish) draft.
If you can cultivate this habit, I promise you’ll finish novel after novel.
Thanks for reading,