Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Five ways to complete your novel

With NaNoWriMo a little more than a month away, I thought I'd share some of the tips that helped me finish my books.

1. Outline

After starting out as a never-outliner, I slowly migrated to the outline crowd. After seeing how much it helped with my most recent book, I was finally sold on the idea.

First, I write a short summary of what I want to happen in the book. Then I write out a detailed outline, chapter by chapter, of important scenes and character developments.

For my current project, I also have a chart of all characters' names, descriptions, and motivations.

I use a Word document to outline, but other writers also use spreadsheets or dedicated writing software.

2. Connect with other writers

Writing groups are important because writing can be a lonely process. I love reading the #amwriting hashtag on Twitter, but there are ways to connect on every social media site. It's helpful to hear advice from more experienced writers, and you may find betas (people willing to read and provide feedback on your work) this way.

If you can manage it, joining a writing group in person (through a school, library, or bookstore) is also a great way to share feedback and encouragement.

3. Make it a habit

Setting a schedule to write consistently (as much as possible) is important. Every day off is dangerous because you can take another ... and another ... so what's one more, or a hundred? Taking too much time off can make it harder to come back and focus on the project.

Some people set a certain time to write, or block off their weekends. Whatever works for you, do it. 

4. Use a "sandbox"

For a long time I thought I was the only person who did this, but other writers say they've done it as well. When you're writing a rough draft, your focus should be getting everything down on paper. But as you revise, what do you do with scenes you don't need (or aren't sure you need)? 

I move out-of-place scenes or descriptions to another document that I call the book's "sandbox." That way, if I decide later that I really do want to use the scene, it's still there.

5. Reward your progress

Tweet about it, blog about it, share it with your friends and family - whatever you do, when you finish (or just finish a really great chapter), share the news. 

You also might want to reward yourself with a break from writing when you hit your word count, or think of other rewards that will encourage you to keep going. 

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Book Review: L'art de la Simplicite: Living More With Less
On the Shelf: Book Riot's 2017 Challenge
Writing Challenges and Time Management