Writing the words ‘The End’ is a fantastic feeling. When it comes at the end of a two-year slog to write an 80,000 word novel, the feeling is even better. (Yup that’s how long it took me to write my first book!)
When you’re a beginner, finishing your project – whatever it is – is vital. Whether it’s a short story, a novel or a blog post, you need to learn the stamina to finish. Often it’s a good idea to start small and build up to longer work as your writing develops. The more you write and finish, the better you’ll become at plotting and developing stories and characters.
Starting my third novel was tough because I knew how big a task I was taking on. Although I managed to complete the first 10,000 words quite easily, I found I was becoming tired. So I took a break. Not a complete break from writing, but a break from The Big Project.
I know I’ll be able to finish this novel, partly because I’ve finished two before and partly because I’ve done the important first step – writing a plan.
When I started my first novel I had an opening (no longer the actual opening but it is still in the novel) and with the ending running around in my head like a film. So I just started writing. I never believed I wouldn’t finish but when my middle bit started to go woolly and I wasn’t sure what was happening, I realised I would have really benefited from having a written plan. I wish now that I had planned it properly because it would have probably taken a lot less time to write. Don’t shrink from planning, don’t run away because this is where you find out how likely you are to be able to finish what you’re about to start. Does the idea ‘have legs’? If it’s likely to go a bit woolly in the middle how will you get out of it? What is your ending going to look like? Even if you don’t end up sticking to the plan, it’s a great comfort to know that it’s there and boosts your confidence by showing that the ending will be.
So once you’ve got your plan you just need to start writing. As the Griffin says in Alice in Wonderland ‘Begin at the beginning and go on until you reach the end’. The best indicator that you’re going to be able to finish a project is when you get to the mid-way point. That feeling of knowing that you’re over the ‘hump’ of the book and racing delightedly towards the end is a great motivator. Stamina is the key and not allowing yourself to become distracted by other things – particularly Twitter! Spending hours prevaricating on social media or reorganising your desktop won’t get your story written.
So, crack on and get it finished!