Is there anything harder than writing? Ask anyone who is aspiring to be an author and they’ll undoubtedly tell you “NO”. While coming up with a story is exciting and really fun, getting all of it out on a page coherently can be frustrating. Today, you could probably travel the earth ten times over on a bridge made of unfinished manuscripts as plenty of people find the writing process too time-consuming, too overwhelming, or too difficult to complete.
Whether it’s after a few chapters, pages or sentences, anyone who has tried to write a novel has asked the question: How on Earth am I going to finish this? As mentioned before, it’s not going to be easy, especially since you’re probably dealing with more distractions than not. However, as a first-time author myself, I wanted to share a few tips that may help you in complete your first novel in the modern world.
One of the major deterrents to creating a novel is the time it actually takes from conception to fruition, especially since today’s writer has to do so many other things. The days of it being relatively okay to be the “poor, struggling artist” are long gone. Let’s be honest, if all you did was sit around and write these days, the nicest thing you’d ever be called is a “bum”. From doctors and lawyers to customer service reps and baristas, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone with just the occupation of “writer”. And for the most part this is down to two things, one of which is money.
If you were to list out your top 10 fears, I’m betting one of them would be to find yourself broke and alone – and why not? It’s scary to think about living (or barely living) day-to-day. That’s probably why most of us stuck with a traditional job and left writing as something to do for fun or whenever the mood strikes. But is work your only obligation? Maybe you’re in school too, or getting married, or raising kids. Either way there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to “get in the mood” to write.
So before you know it, time has already slipped by. Trust me, I’ve been there. It took me eight years to complete my novel.
When I began, I was finishing my junior year of college, in a new relationship, working, and was part of a soccer league. I was consistently busy and had to put my writing on hold at various stages of the process. What’s worse is that I found myself starting over each time I picked it back up. It wasn’t until last year that I finally committed to the story every day. That commitment took on a ton of different shapes as I wasn’t able to always jot something down. Sometimes, I would just think out loud about dialogue, plot points or even character names (so if you ever run into a guy spouting random names in a grocery store, just tap him on the shoulder and say something like, “I like that one”). It sounds crazy, I know but it kept writing fresh in my mind and could be a great way to stay engaged with your story.
Aside from money, one of the other biggest things that keeps today’s writer behind the counter of a coffee shop or desk of an office is doubt. Even if you were told by a friend that your writing was good, there’s still that doubt that you’re anywhere near good enough to actually get your work published. There is also the fear of what people will think and with the amount of social media channels people have to post their negative opinions, it’s a very scary proposition.
Just remember that everyone is a critic and there’s plenty of reasons people will tell you not to write today – just check out this article from from Forbes. But you just have to treat it like you would anything else in your life. After all, you’re just as likely to be pointed out for a mistake or silly comment you make at work, with your friends, or on Facebook as you are in your writing aren’t you? And if writing is your outlet or therapy then why let what someone else might say stop you from doing it? Liberating yourself from doubts (especially others’) can help you fuel your desire to finish your story.
My final piece of advice is to have confidence in your craft. Not every story can or should be written in the same way. If you’ve been stuck trying to fit your novel in a certain mold then you’re doing a disservice yourself. Creativity is meant to be organic and expressed in a variety of ways. Remember, don’t let today’s time constraints or fears consume you. Writing doesn’t have to be your life but there’s no reason that it shouldn’t stay a part of it.
Hopefully these tips will help you finish this particular chapter of your life.
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