Finishing Your Novel: Helpful Tips

There are two general categories of writers: Planners and Pantsers

Keep in mind that these categories are broad and many writers fall somewhere in between.

Planners and Pantsers

Planners tend to plan ahead with worldbuilding and chapter outlines, while pantsers like to sit down and let the writing happen on its own. There are definitely people all over the spectrum when it comes to writing but this gives us a general idea of how a lot of people approach writing.

Some Problems I’ve seen with Planners

  • Endless worldbuilding
  • Endless planning, never happy with their plot
  • Continuously changing their plot or characters
  • Caught in an endless cycle of re-writing

Some Problems I’ve seen with Pantsers

  • Never seem to find the time to sit down and write
  • The story changes daily or part way through
  • Plot holes and lack of character development
  • An endless cycle of re-writing

All of that being said, rewrites are a part of writing and editing is a necessity, but before all of that, the rough draft has to be finished 😉

Planners and Pantser, Let’s Meet in the Middle

The number one thing I hear repeated by all of the successful authors and publishers I follow on Youtube, Twitter, and everywhere else is this: Treat writing like a job. This doesn’t mean making writing work, it means creating a goal (e.g. finishing your novel), and breaking it into smaller, more manageable goals, called objectives, to reach the main goal: a finished book.

When you look at writing a novel, it becomes this big, consuming project that almost seems impossible. How are you going to write a 50,000+ word novel when you have a job, school, a kid, or all of the above? It seems gigantic and hard to believe, and often causes us to procrastinate which is discouraging and can lead to things like depression or anxiety.

However, if we break up our novel into smaller, bite-sized pieces, we can reach our goal. Objectives gives us bench marks that let us know we’re making progress and give us a feeling of satisfaction, encouraging us to move forward.

For example, at present, I am running an Amazon ad, a Facebook ad, posting articles to my blog, doing weekly updates on Tapas (You can read more about publishing to Apps Here), all the while doing artwork, and keeping up with social media, my mailing list, and then everything else that has to happen in life; such as cooking, cleaning and spending time with my husband–and somehow I need to fit writing my next two novels in there.

With all of that in mind, I struggled to find time to write because I was so focused on the business aspect that I quickly spiraled into depression.

It wasn’t until I sporadically started writing the rough draft of a side novel on an App that I realized I had no problem writing. I was making progress on the side novel every week, but somehow failing to make the same progress with my fourth novel in my main series.

The difference was that I was posting the side novel to an App that suggested a formula of writing 1,000-2,000 words in a chapter (or episode) and using that to update my story weekly. 1,000-2,000 words is extremely manageable and I had no problem meeting that deadline every week.

When I thought about writing my other novel, which I was writing in Word, it seemed like this huge chore and I didn’t look forward to it, but a quick 2,000 word update on an App? No problem.

When I finally realized what was happening, I was able to structure my week to make progress on both stories and felt the weight lift off my shoulders.

This sounds great for the Pantsers, but what about the Planners?

Same thing applies. When working on your outline for your novel, start out small and plan to sit down and work on outlining one chapter per week. If you do more than that, you’ll feel awesome, if not, that’s okay, you still met your objective. Once all of your chapters are outlined, it’s time to write.

What about endless worldbuilding?

For this, I recommend halting the worldbuilding and sitting down to write your story. In order to have a novel, you need a plot and characters, without that, you have a world that no one can reach.

Structure the bare bones of your society, characters, landscape, etc. Set that straight–and I mean the bare bones–and then write your story. If you end up in a spot where you need to name a country or put in a name for a type of spell, make a note in the manuscript and/or in a notebook and move on.

Set a goal to finish your novel by writing it in small sections each week and before you know it, you’ll have a book. When you do the first read through, make note of any other areas you need to expand. See where more worldbuilding is necessary for the story. That’s your priority. Once your novel is finished and published, you can go ahead and write a whole guide to your world, with all the interesting black weasels that eat a special fungus and birds that spit acid you can think of ❤

Artwork by Chiara Bautista

Ok, but I keep changing my novel or characters or both. I never seem happy.

The truth is, your first novel is never going to be perfect. Writing is an art form and the only way you’re going to get better at it is practice.

Rough drafts are the raw material and they are not supposed to be perfect. I see a lot of people who have been working on the same novel for years and a lot of the time it’s because they write the first couple of chapters, aren’t happy with them, and go back in to rewrite them over and over again.

A novel is something we pour our time and our souls into and I understand it can be hard to move past something that doesn’t seem perfect, but the rough draft is called rough for a reason. Try to let those first couple of chapters go and just write. Write until you get to the end and then go back to the beginning and start editing.

For those of you who are unhappy regardless of any writing you do, I suggest talking to a professional to discuss any anxiety or fears surrounding your story and work through what might be holding you back. You don’t want to regret never finishing your novel.

In Conclusion

  • Set yourself small, manageable, weekly objectives
  • Schedule in at least one day a week where you write
  • Write your rough draft, start to finish. Don’t go back and edit chapters until the entire manuscript is written.
  • Set your worldbuilding notes aside and establish your story line and characters, and then go back in and build.
  • Once finished, it’s time for an editor or beta reader 🙂

Everyone works differently, but hopefully there’s something here for everyone to help finish their novel.


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