8 Stellar Steps for Finishing Your Book

Shayla Eaton, president of Curiouser Editing

“I haven’t written in a while, but I want to.”

“I’m in the process of getting back into writing.”

“I’m not progressing as well as I’d hoped.”

“I have two books, but I’d like to actually publish them.”

Finishing is one of the most difficult conundrums writers face. Whether you’re a fiction or nonfiction author, you’ve been there — too many rewrites, not enough copy, too much copy, too much research to finish, too many plot holes, too boring.

It’s enough to make you go insane . . . go insane, throw some glitter, make it rain.

Sorry.

But as writers, we’re all a little insane, don’t you think?

We were insane enough to take a little idea and form it into a story. Insane enough to sit down one night and touch our fingertips to the keyboard. Just enough to write our first sentence, our first character.

So why can’t we finish? What’s stopping us?

Time. Our family needs us. Work needs us. The house needs cleaning. The car needs fixing. Church and the community and social media and family emergencies and everyone and everything needs us.

But your book needs you too.

And if we’re all being honest, maybe you need your book too.

Whether you’re pushing hard to finish the book right now or you’re hiding from it, hoping it’ll finish itself, I promise there’s hope.

Here’s how I’m finishing my own book and how you can too:

  1. Figure out where your time is going. How long would it take you to get in 500 words a day? Thirty minutes? An hour? Can you spare an hour of your time on social media or scrubbing the dishes to sit down and have some quiet time with your book? In one month, you’d have 14,000 words if you committed to writing 500 words a day. “But I have kids!” So do many, many, many published authors — can you write during naptime? Can you hire a babysitter one Saturday to get several thousand words done? Can your sibling, friend, or spouse take your kiddo out for ice cream while you write? Just. One. Hour.
  2. Get an accountability partner. What? You thought that was only limited to diets? During our group challenges for Curiouser Author Society members, we’ve seen word counts met simply because we challenged each other to write 500 words a day. When you have someone rooting for you, you’re more apt to stay committed because you 1) don’t want to let that person down, and 2) feel motivated and encouraged to finish.
  3. Let go of the plot holes or mounds of research. But not entirely — eventually, you’ll have to deal with those things. For now, write, write, write and you can fill in the blanks later. When you’re stuck at a point in your book that requires more research, just write XXXXX there and come back to it once the book is done.
  4. Be realistic. If you’re not a morning person at all and then you try to wake up at 5:00 a.m. to get to writing, chances are, you’re going to fail and then feel terrible about not finishing your book — again. Set realistic goals. I’m a night writer because at the end of the day, my client work is done and I can focus on my book instead of worrying about projects.
  5. Skip a scene if it’s too much. Remember, it’s about finishing right now. Don’t get so overwhelmed by a four-sentence scene that you spend half an hour working on it. Leave a note to go back and deal with that issue later.
  6. Print it out. If you’re doing rewrites, I first suggest that you take a break after finishing your book before starting rewrites. Work on a different project, and then come back to it so that you have a clear mind. But don’t take a 6-month-long break, okay? When you’re ready to start rewrites, print out the book with wide margins so you have room to write notes. There’s something about seeing it on paper that allows you to see more errors, plot holes, and inconsistencies.
  7. Read it out loud. Why do authors skip this step? You will catch so. many. things.
  8. Get organized. From a chalkboard to a notebook, there are several options for organizing your novel. I recommend The Novel Planner, Book in a Month, and Scrivener (receive 20% off Scrivener when you join our author society).

In the end, this book is yours and yours alone. You have to decide how important it is to you. Do you love it enough to sacrifice an hour out of your day to finish it?

I can give you tip after tip for finishing your book, but you have pick yourself up, fight through past discouragement, and be intentional about finishing.

So are you ready to finish that book?

An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric coach, Shayla Eaton works one-on-one with self-published authors, having edited over two hundred books. She is the president of Curiouser Editing, where she offers top-notch publishing guidance for authors and their books. She also owns Curiouser Author Society, an exclusive community for serious indie authors who want to write better books, sell more copies, and build bigger author brands.

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