How to FINALLY Finish Writing Your Book – Guest Post by Young Author Kayleigh Idea
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.
Thank you so much for letting me guest post!
You’re SO welcome!!!!! Thank YOU for being willing to guest post and for writing this AMAZING one!!!!!
Sorry for going MIA on your blog…I’ll try to be better in reading.
Great post! I definitely struggled with this when I first started writing so I’m glad you got to include it here. #1 probably helped me the most with staying focused. I also had an additional bonus to keep me motivated, as I was doing the One Year Adventure Novel program at the time, and so because it was school I COULDN’T leave my novel unfinished 😉 To every teen writer wondering if they can do it, you CAN! It’ll be hard sometimes but you’ll never regret finishing, whether you’re actively pursuing a career as a writer or not.
Oh, girl, that is TOTALLY 100% okay!!!!! I get behind on blogs ALL THE TIME!!! And I sooo get that life happens, so really, no stress one bit!!!
And, I’m sooo happy to hear you loved the post!!! Kayleigh did a FANTASTIC job with it!!!!! And I soooo second that every teen writer out there, y’all CAN do this!!!!
Thank you so much! I’ve heard about the One Year Adventure Novel program. It sounds really cool! So true! Anyone can write a book if they put in the time and effort!
Thank you, Kayleigh, for writing this FABULOUS post for TWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!😀😀 We are so happy you could guest post for us!!!!!!!!!
Great post!!!!!!! All your tips were super helpful!!!!!!!!! I definitely need to work on setting goals! Ooh, and I love the idea of giving yourself a reward for meeting a writing goal!!! (I’m totally going to try that out!!!!😉) Also, I love the quotes you used for why we don’t need to edit while we write!!! It can be hard to wait to edit, but definitely beneficial!!! Again thank you SO MUCH for this post!!!!!!!!!! I absolutely enjoyed reading it and receiving great advice along the way!!!!!! 😉
Thank you so much, Katherine!!! That’s super sweet of you!
You’re welcome, Kayleigh!!!! Aw, thank you!!!!! 🙂
Thanks so much for the advice! Starting (and never finishing) books is totally my problem, and it’s nice to hear I’m not the only one…
And I actually just discovered two of your tips. The first was writing every day (it’s hard to be consistent when you only write once a month), and the second is a reward… and now I’m glad I’m not crazy!
Also, Kayleigh Idea, I love your last name. It sounds very inventive 🙂
Thank you so much, Faith! You’re definitely not alone! Thanks again!
Very efficient tips, Kayleigh! I find that the most important thing about writing a story is that you’re passionate enough to carry it through long-term, no matter exactly how long that may be. I think you can gauge how truly invested you are in a story by asking yourself, “Would I be willing to stay with this novel for two years or even more?” If that question gives you pause, it’s probably best to evaluate how passionate you really are.
I especially liked your point about the distractions. It’s so easy to get lost in other things and then wondering where on earth the time went! Listening to soft music (no lyrics) really helps me. Recently I’ve been listening to Narnia instrumental music as I write, and it’s great for inspiration! Highly recommend.
Thanks for the awesome guest post, Kayleigh! And Issabelle, I admire how quickly you’re moving through your latest WIP. I can’t wait until we learn about your plot and characters!
Have a great day!
Awww, JC, there really ain’t nothin’ to admire. Let’s just say the story is a giant mess with a lot of rambling, nonsensical sentences, but I’ve been soooo enjoying my time with Ashlee and Ruslan. (Especially, Ruslan!! He’s mah boy!!!) YAAAY!!! I’m soo glad!!! Well, keep an eye out on the page under “The Team’s Writings” titled: Issabelle’s Works, because I should (*crossing fingers*) be getting a synopsis up for that sometime really soon. 😉
Thank you so much, Joy Caroline! That’s a really good point. Thanks for sharing!
Hmmmmm interesting! I will show my sister. she wants to be a writer. I have never heard of a app blocker. what does it do?
Hey, Corrie! Awesome! Basically, an app blocker is something you can download on your phone or computer that will restrict or limit specific apps to help avoid distractions while you’re trying to be productive. Does that answer your question?
yes, thank u
These tips are so helpful!!!! And YES to outlining!!! At first I thought I could just pants my novel, but then I realized that briefly outlining each chapter would actually help me get more done and not stumble into the dreaded writer’s block. XD Thank you so much for sharing this post with us, Kayleigh!!! 😀
Thank you so much! That’s so true. That’s why outlining helps so much!
Nice post Kayleigh! These were helpful tips. Right now I have lots of story ideas, but I’m really trying to finish my current WIP before actually starting to write another. And I weird writing thing I do is turn off all the lights in my room before I write. It’s kinda weird but I like it and it helps keep me focused?! 🙂
Thank you, Trixie! That’s so great that you’re challenging yourself to do that. You got this! If turning off all the lights works for you, awesome! Go for it!
I spent years stuck in the starting stories vicious cycle. I had so many ideas but no direction for any of them, and they sputtered out quickly and I’d jump to the next thing and swear that THIS NEW IDEA WOULD BE THE ONE!!! I’m not 100% sure what pulled me out of that cycle. I guess I got the idea for my WIP and just knew. I felt a specific pull to it, and it helped that the idea came with a solid path for the story and a character that I got attached to quickly.
But even when I got rolling with that idea, I was super guilty of editing while writing. It’s partially why my first draft took so long, especially in its earliest stages. I love those quotes you gave though. They really hold a lot of truth.
Exactly! That’s where I was. That’s great that you settled on a story! Thank you!
AMAZING POST KAYLEIGH! This is very helpful for me, especially since one of my WIPs has been stuck in the same spot since November. *chuckles and sighs* Oh writing can be a pain sometimes XD. It is definitely what you would call a “perservance sport”. 😂 And Issa, Katherine, and Alana, I’m so excited for the special celebration post coming JUNE 1ST!! *Dances* *Disco ball comes down from the ceiling* Don’t mind me while I just PARTY!! 🎉🎉 😁
YESSSS!!!!! We are SO excited for it, too, Alexa!!!!!!!! *dances with Alexa and admires disco ball* Lol, let’s party!!!!!! *pumps fist in the air* 🎉🎉
Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it!!
Hehehe, ME TOO!!!!!!!!!😀😁 (I’m super excited!!!! I hope everyone likes it!) I’ll party with you, girl!!!!😉🎉 *dances with Alexa*