Finishing a novel isn’t only a great excitement it’s also a weight off your shoulders. I remember letting out a deep breath, looking at the words ‘the end’ and then being completely lost as to what to do next. Writing this book had been the main goal of my past five years. Since then I’ve used what I’ve learned to write five more manuscripts in five years. So today I want to give you the tools you need to get to that breath of relief sooner.
Many people aspire to be writers and authors but most seem to fail. The best of them get 30,000 words in before switching to another project. But there are normal people who have writing novel length works. This is a simple guide to the mental game behind completing your first draft.
1: Remember That It’s Just a First Draft.
It doesn’t have to be perfect or even good. Even if you put your all into every sentence, you might end up not needing the scene. But at the same time, you don’t want to write awfully because that will make it very hard to edit. It can also affect your stamina in finishing the draft. For me, knowing the first part of the book is poorly written or will need major edits makes me not want to write on it anymore and I will often end up abandoning the project.
That’s why NaNoWriMo works so well for me. I’m able to write quickly but well. I’m not worried about the quality of the draft but I also know any given scene could be vital or dropped. It makes it so I don’t put too much pressure on myself but can’t go back to edit the first few pages (because that doesn’t add much to my word count).
2: The Dreaded Deadline
Having a deadline is a great motivator for most authors. Having a self-imposed deadline can keep your mind from wandering off to other projects. I know that if I work on one project too long I’ll get bored of it and won’t want to keep working on it. So if you can work as quickly as possible. A lot of authors will release one book a year so you could try making a resolution to complete and submit your novel within a year. Or try NaNoWriMo or any other book in 30-day challenge. Just remember that the faster you write the draft the more time you’ll spend editing.
If writing fast isn’t your thing I have a couple of suggestions as well.
3: Write The Most Important Parts First.
It can sometimes be the most beneficial to write only the things you need for the first draft and then fill in the rest later. You can still write in chronological order so that you understand and build towards the climax. But dropping the less important scenes will keep your draft shorter and more fluid. Then you can always go in and fill in the rest later. This is also good if you’re someone who rewrites a lot or changes their plot half way through.
4: Plan a Big Reward for Finishing the Draft.
Giving yourself a reward is the opposite of the deadline. Allow yourself a special gift, trip, or break if you complete the draft. Alternatively, you could set smaller rewards for getting through with chapters or getting halfway through. Saving up a little bit of money to treat yourself at the end can be a constant reminder to work on your project.
5: Make it a Competition
If you have other writer friends you should definitely try either having an accountability partner or making it a competition. See who can finish first, buy a coffee for your friend if you don’t make your word count, there are a lot of different things you and your friends can try. Maybe even sign away your first born child if you don’t finish your novel in time (that will really motivate you). But just remember to keep it light and fun.
6: Make it a Habit
Sometimes the hardest part is just starting. Sit down and tell yourself you have to write one sentence and then you can do something else… or you can keep going. Or block out 15 minutes and say you can’t get up or look at anything except your draft until the time is up. One of these tricks should boost your mojo. You can also Create Your Perfect Writing Space which you only use for writing. If you have a designated space it makes getting in the mood to write much easier and turn it into a habit. Check out my other post (and the video) for inspiration.
7. Companion Novels
Books like Novelist’s Boot Camp: 101 Ways to Take Your Book From Boring to Bestseller and book in 30 a month are extremely motivational but any book can become your companion. The trick is it has to inspire you to write without letting you copy its style or intimidate you. There are plenty of books that I enjoy reading while I write but have to remember to put down when I get excited so I can transfer that energy to my project. You could also watch a TV show or anime that’s similar to what you’re creating but I find myself sucked into them for much longer amounts of time.
What are the things that motivate you to write? I’d love to hear them and any of your other thought in the comments.