Hello, readers, today on TWN we’re going to have the AMAZING Kayleigh Idea doing a guest post. TWN is just SOOO THRILLED to have her here today, so welcomeeeeeee Kayleigh!!!!!! Don’t know who this wonderful gal is? Well, first I’m gonna have to let the shock pass for a minute.
Okay, I’m back. XD Kayleigh Idea is a young blogger and author of YA fantasy!!! You can check out her amazing blog right here!! We met through Kingdom Pen and lemme tell y’all she is such an inspiring gal and man, does she know her writing stuff!!!!! I hope you’ll love her post today as much as I did, and let her know in the comments your thoughts!!! (Also, before we jump in just a side announcement, if you haven’t checked out the home page on TWN in a while, I would kinda recommend it. *winks*) Well, I won’t steal anymore of the spotlight. Let’s just get right on in!!!
Do you find yourself constantly bouncing from book to book, never able to finish writing a single one? Sadly, this is the case for many beginning writers and it’s what happened to me when I first started out too.
It goes something like this. First, you receive a spark of inspiration and you just know it’s bestseller material! You have to write this book immediately even though you’re already in the middle of another novel—but that one is getting boring anyway and this idea is much better. You start writing this book only to find that it’s not exactly as you thought it would be. But then you get a new idea… And the process repeats all over again.
It’s a vicious cycle that is extremely difficult to escape from and forces many writers to just quit.
But the truth is, you can’t get published—which is the goal for many writers—if you can’t even finish writing a book!
For the first year I started writing, I was never able to finish a book. I started plenty, but I’d quit when it became boring or when I had a better idea. I know this struggle firsthand, which is why I’m going to share the top four things that helped me finish my first book.
#1. Set goals
Setting goals is one of the best ways to help finish writing your book because they’re extremely motivating and easily customizable for your personal schedule. You’re the one making the goal, so you get to decide how much time to give yourself to complete your book—so even if you only have time to write one hundred words a day, that’s totally fine!
For my first completed book, I participated in an online challenge called NaNoWriMo that happens every November, where thousands of writers devote their time to reaching the goal of writing 50,000 words in one month! I actually took part in the more relaxed version of the challenge, Camp NaNoWriMo, that allows you to create your own goal and occurs every April and July. These challenges can be great opportunities to give you the extra boost of motivation you need to finish writing your book.
You can also get an accountability partner, whether it be another writer, a friend, or a family member whom you trust and can check in with periodically. They can also encourage you to reach your goal!
Another motivator you can give yourself to look forward to while you write is a reward—some chocolate, a movie night, a new book, or whatever entices you!
One reason a lot of writers don’t finish their books is because they don’t have a plan. They don’t know where their story is going.
They have an idea, but do not prepare in advance before diving right into writing. They write a couple chapters… but then have no idea what happens next.
This is why outlining is so important!
Your outline DOES NOT have to be fancy or lengthy, but if you simply spend a small amount of time to figure out where your story is going to go, it will help immensely. Outlining can also help because sometimes when you start to outline a book you realize… maybe you shouldn’t be writing this book after all, whether it be because there’s a giant plot hole you didn’t realize was there or simply because you’ve lost the passion for it. You can even start outlining if you’re already in the middle of writing your book.
One reason a lot of writers don’t like outlining is because they think it takes all the fun out of writing and it will make their book stale and boring to read and write. But this isn’t always true, and you don’t have to stick to your outline one hundred percent. If need be, don’t be afraid to stray away from it—think of your outline as a road map.
If you’d like to learn more about outlining, there are some amazing resources such as the Three Act Structure, the Hero’s Journey, and the Save the Cat Method that you can check out.
#3. Get rid of all distractions
It can be tough to get in the writing zone. You sit down to write only to get sucked into scrolling social media or watching YouTube videos, losing crucial time that you could spend writing.
There are so many different distractions, but in order to have a productive writing session, it’s imperative that you get rid of these.
First, make sure to choose your writing space wisely—a place where you won’t get distracted by external things.
Then make sure you won’t be distracted by your phone or computer. One way you can do this is by installing a free app blocker on your devices like the Freedom app or Cold Turkey. Personally, I use the Forest App to help keep me productive, but it does cost a couple dollars.
#4. Don’t edit as you write
A common misconception people have about writing a book is that all you do is write it and poof! It’s done and ready to publish. But that is simply not true. Books go through countless drafts and revisions, and 99% of them are not perfect on the writer’s first draft. And that is totally okay.
“The first draft is just telling yourself the story.”
Lots of writers put so much pressure on themselves, thinking that every word must be flawless. They go back and look over their work, painstakingly tweaking each sentence. They edit to make it perfect, but the truth is most writers don’t get it right the first time!
This is why I’m encouraging you not to edit while you write even though it may be hard. The words may come out messy and there will be grammar and spelling mistakes, but that’s okay. The important thing is to just keep writing and to keep soldiering on until the end, even if what you’re writing isn’t any good—because after all, that’s what editing is for! It also makes the drafting process go a lot quicker.
As Jodi Picoult said, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
These are the top things that helped me finish writing my book, and I hope they can help you too!
Kayleigh Idea is a young writer from the Chicagoland area. When she isn’t brainstorming new story ideas or posting writing tips on her blog, you can find her curled up on her couch reading a good book or jamming out to Taylor Swift. The stories she’s most drawn to are fantastical adventures filled with hope and wonder… and sometimes dragons. She’s never had magical abilities but she loves to write about characters who do. Find her online at her website.