It’s January, the season of fresh starts and new resolutions! So how many of you have resolved to (finally) finish your novel this year?
Writing a book is no easy task, so I’m here with a few tips to help you make this the year you can finally write ‘The End’ and step away from that keyboard.
1. Make writing a priority
We all get it – life is busy, and jobs and trips and parties and laundry all get in the way of you sitting down and actually writing. But writing won’t just become a priority for you unless you make it one. If you’re really serious about finishing your novel this year, it has to be right at the top of your list (OK, probably after feeding the kids and paying the mortgage). Don’t let this be a January goal you don’t think about for the rest of the year – remind yourself weekly, daily, that this is what you want to do in 2016.
2. Set a deadline
For many of us having a deadline is the difference between getting something done and forgetting about it indefinitely. The deadline can be for you alone, or you can set a date for when you’re going to give your novel to a friend to read, or send it to an agent or publisher. Whatever works for you, just pick a date (but make sure you give yourself a realistic amount of writing time!) and make sure that you stick to it.
3. Create small goals
OK, so you’ve set a deadline, but the goal of ‘finishing the novel’ is still a fairly daunting task. It’s time to break it down into smaller, more manageable parts. Do you think your novel will be about 75,000 words long? If you give yourself 6 months to write, that’s 12,500 words a month, or about 416 a day. Doesn’t that sound immediately more achievable?
4. Kill your darlings
This phrase, commonly attributed to Faulkner, is popular advice for writers. It means that you have to be prepared to cut out the most self-indulgent or treasured parts of your novel. You might love that artistic chapter describing your main character’s dreams, but if it isn’t doing anything for the story it should probably go. When you’re editing be ready to be a bit brutal, for the good of the finished book.
5. Hire professional help
Writing a novel is rarely the work of one person alone. Of course it’s your world and your story, but a fresh pair of eyes can always help. Whether you just need a few pages of feedback in the form of a manuscript review, or you’re looking for more detailed editing or proofreading, finding a professional to help you out can really take a weight off.
That’s it! With a little hard work and dedication, 2016 could be the year you finally finish your novel (and, who knows, maybe it’ll be topping the bestseller lists in 2017!).