How to Finally Finish Your First Draft

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I’ve been writing stories since I can remember, but the one common problem I ran into over and over again was actually making it to the end. I’d start out with gusto but partway through I’d lose steam or find myself stuck, not knowing how to get out of the corner I had written myself into. But the passion for writing never waned, so while I’d give up on one project, I’d always begin another. I was determined.

And that determination paid off.

It has taken me years to learn how to write a book, but I did it.

Since then I’ve written multiple books and gone on to teach aspiring writers the process I’ve learned to take a raw idea and turn it into a professional manuscript.

The secret: You need the right process.

There are multiple components that go into the process of writing a book, and if any of these components are missing, the chances of making it to the end get smaller and smaller. So today, I’m going to share my 4-step process for finishing a book.

1 | Create a Schedule

It’s important to create a schedule of when you’ll write and for how long. If you only have 15 minutes a day to put into writing your book, that’s fine! But make sure you block off that amount of time and actually stick to it.

I also like to add deadlines. I set a deadline for the first act, second act, and completion of the first draft. Having these smaller deadlines makes the project more manageable and gives me the push I need to keep going.

You’ll also want to set aside time for any necessary research. It’s important to have scheduled blocks of time that are separate from your daily writing time.

2 | Develop a Plan

Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, some degree of planning is necessary (a successful pantser is usually just able to internally and instinctively plan their novel, but planning is still involved).

Planning includes (at the very least) defining your premise, summarizing your main characters, and testing your idea via the fencepost approach (more on this in an upcoming article).

3 | Build a Team

A book is not built alone. I used to think that writing a book could be done without any sort of community, but to my surprise, community made all the difference.

Community provides support, encouragement, feedback, and accountability. Even the great writers had some sort of team or community surrounding them!

You can find community through an online groupa writing coach, a developmental editor, an online course, and even through collaboration with a fellow author.

4 | Don’t Give Up

This is probably the most important component: Don’t Give Up! You can do this! I have faith in you. If this is something you truly want to accomplish, then you have what it takes to get it done!

Writing a book is hard. There’s no doubt about it. And it can be SO incredibly easy to give up, but if you just keep writing, follow the process, you will make it to the end. And once you have that first sloppy draft, the editing process can begin and you’ll be well on your way to having a professional manuscript.

So don’t quit. Just keep on writing. Build your team/find your community, create your schedule, develop your plan, and I promise you’ll make it to “The End.”

Now go write!