Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Write to Finish

by Cynthia Owens @EfficiencyAdict

4 Mindsets that make a difference!
I have a confession. I’ve struggled to finish writing a novel. Articles, blog posts, devotions, short stories, poems—these I can handle, but wielding 55,000+ words, making a fictional story bloom on paper the way it has unfolded in my head, has been my personal unicorn.

Until recently, I didn’t know how to change this. But, in the last six months the barriers have fallen. My current manuscript is 75% complete and on target to be finished in the next few weeks.

Here are four mindsets that have made a difference for me:

1. Having an Accountability Partner
I’ve attended writers’ meetings and been a part of several critique groups. Both of these are useful, but there is nothing like having an accountability partner. Our agreement is that I send a chapter a week to her. We also meet once a week to discuss feedback. If I don’t send her a chapter, I still have to meet with her. It’s the rare week I’m willing to face her without a chapter ready for review.

2. Being Willing to Write Badly – And to Keep Writing Until It Gets Better
Because my accountability partner is expecting something from me weekly, I have to write regardless of whether I feel inspired. At first the story pours out as junk on the page, but I keep going. I’ll write the base scenes, tweak the story elements, massage and play with words until I have something I’m willing to send as a first draft.

In previous writing attempts, I wouldn’t have continued pushing. I can remember sitting in front of old manuscripts believing I’d lost the vision of the story or that there wasn’t enough material to build upon. Now I know those half-captured scenes are just the start. That yucky middle is normal. Once I write a section, I can rewrite it, making it stronger with each pass.

3. Finishing My Current Project—No Matter What
I have a collection of manuscripts I started and discarded. I allowed myself to set them aside even though I’d spend countless hours developing those characters, creating scenes, and thinking through critical story elements. What. A. Waste.

Even if these stories hadn’t become the next Twilight or Miss Julia series, they would have taught me valuable craft lessons and helped me approach my next storyline with greater insight. Now, I face my work with this mindset: What I start, I finish. Period. Literally!

If you’d like to see a humorous take on the life cycle of a project, check out this graphic from Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist: The Life of a Project http://visual.ly/life-project

4. Knowing I Don’t Have to Write “The Book of My Heart” Yet
Recently, I attended a writers’ conference. (Those are good things. You should check one out!) During an Ask the Author session, the question was asked, “What is the book of your heart?” One award-winning author, who’s published around 40 books, said she had not yet written the book of her heart. When asked, “Why not,” she admitted her writing craft was not where she wanted it to be. She was still improving and intended to write the book sometime in the future.

40 books and she’s still not ready to write that dream book? That put a lot into perspective for me. There is wisdom in waiting until my skill can do justice to that deeply personal story in my head. In the meantime, there are other stories I can tell, good stories, positive stories, that will help me develop as an author.

So, what’s holding you back from finishing that manuscript? Are there steps that have helped you write to finish? Please share your insights in the comment section below.


What’s holding you back from finishing your novel? @EfficiencyAdicton @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)   

Cynthia Owens is The Efficiency Addict, a technical trainer helping writers, speakers and small business owners work more effectively. She runs www.TheEfficiencyAddict.com, which specializes in computer training, business organization, career development and event coordination. 

Connect with Cynthia on Twitter and Pinterest.

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  1. Write on!
    The first time you shared a children's story you began, I was in love with it. Write on! Write on!

    1. Haha! I still have that story. Maybe one day the right publisher will come along... :)

  2. I really needed this post today. It has inspired me to put some of your suggestions into place. Thank you Cynthia.

  3. This is exactly what I'm working on. Through Word Weavers, I now have an accountability partner. Also, I took time to make files and organize my computer, but I wasn't sure I was as efficient as I need to be. I look forward to getting your book. Blessings

    1. Thank you, Jennifer! Would love to have your feedback after you finish it.

  4. What an inspiring post Cynthia! I wish you success in finishing and publishing your novel. You gave me lots to think about. Thank you!

  5. What an inspiring post Cynthia! I wish you success in finishing and publishing your novel. You gave me lots to think about. Thank you!

  6. My pleasure. I hope the steps you take propel you further in your writing journey.

  7. Being willing to write badly is a big one, personally. I'm a bit of a perfectionist when writing. Great post!

    A Writer's Path