How to finish a book?
That age old question that every writer has had to solve. How many books are started but never completed? But the more important question is “How to ensure you finish your book?” This article will help you answer that question.
“There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
– Walter Wellesley Smith
Sarcasm aside, Walter Wellesley Smith reflected the angst of generations of writers in his statement. Writing can be hard. But it can also be easy. And rewarding. But if you never finish your book you’ll never know for sure.
So how to finish a book?
The easy answer is to start.
“I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 am every morning.”
– Peter DeVries
There are two requirements to being able to finish your book. The first is discipline. Don’t wait for inspiration. Start at 9 and write. Write until finished. Then quit.
The second requirement is to have a system. A disciplined method of writing that will be both efficient and effective.
Start, write, quit is an easy answer to both. But along the way there are some hints to being disciplined.
The first is to give yourself time to write. Most people can finish a chapter in about an hour to an hour and a half. So allow two hours minimum for your writing. There’s no point in scheduling fifteen minutes here and fifteen minutes there. You’ll just waste the time.
But this time must be truly used for writing. So start the two hours by editing the previous day’s writing. That will get you back into the flow of your writing. It also removes the desire to correct as you go. Allow only one half hour to edit. Then begin to write. Your goal is to write one chapter of about 2500 words. Don’t stop until it’s finished. Then get up and stretch. But not until. Get yourself into the zone and write.
After you’ve written for a while check back on your timing. Was it enough? Was it too much? How many words have you been able to write? Then adjust your time budget accordingly.
The second side is that just allowing two hours to write isn’t enough. You need to schedule that time. Set aside a block of time. Determine where you will write. Go there at that time. Don’t miss. Don’t vary. Don’t allow others to steal that time from you. That’s your child’s time. Your book will never be born without it.
Start immediately. Don’t delay. Don’t answer email or play with paper. Sit. Edit. Write. But most of all — begin immediately.
Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. Eliminate interruptions and potential distractions.
But all the discipline in the world won’t help you if you don’t have a system. A system will guide you through the stages of writing. It will help you be efficient. It will ensure you don’t waste time writing disorganized nonsense. It ensures you edit your work when it’s time, not before and not after. It will help you with the content. And it will help you organize that content so that it makes sense and is useful. If you are just starting out the best system is someone else’s. Buy or borrow. Then adjust it to fit you.
A writing system and discipline. That’s how to finish a book.
Follow your system.
Quit when done.
But it all begins with starting.
Article by Bill Stoller