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Finishing the book

The_End_BookIn the last two calendar years I wrote 245,000 words of fiction without completing a single novel.

In fact, until Monday, I hadn’t written “The End”—actually I don’t write that anyway—on a fiction manuscript since I finished the first draft of Blind Fury in December 2011.

Which makes Monday’s finish of the first draft of Blind Justice kind of a big deal!

I was starting to wonder if I still had what it takes to write a book to its full conclusion. I’d done it before, plenty of times—in fact, Blind Fury was my fourth completed manuscript—but just not lately.

It wasn’t writer’s block, more like a lack of clear focus.

Scrivener For Dummies provided a distraction for a good part of 2011, but even after that I was all over the place. I started a follow-up to BF, but then worried that maybe I should write something that wasn’t linked, just in case BF didn’t sell.

Then I got to a certain point and felt like I wasn’t at a place in my writing where I could do that story justice, so I started something completely different.

I was halfway through that second something when I decided I was going to forge my own path and dive into self-publishing.

Instant focus.

The series is king, which meant it was time to return to the Blind Fury follow-up and drop the manuscript I’d put over 30K into. It’s amazing how knowing what you want, and what you need to do to get there, makes all the difference.

So, now I finally have that fifth manuscript under my belt, and a sixth one halfway done.

My advice? If you’ve never finished a book, pick a story, stick with it, and finish it. Don’t be distracted by the plot bunnies. Capture them somewhere—Evernote maybe?—and get back to work.

You don’t have to love the first draft—that’s what revisions and editors are for—you just have to get to the end. It’s a lot easier to write half a story than a whole one. Until you complete one, you’ll never know if you can.

And once you do, you’ll have the confidence that you can do it again.

Oh, and I’d recommend not waiting two years to make it happen. 😉

Image credit: By EWikist at en.wikipedia {Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Reply

    Well done on finishing your manuscript! I think it’s not just about knowing what you want but feeling comfortable with what you’re writing. I’ve just re-started something after churning out about 23K words and then deciding that it wasn’t on the right track. I now have about 5K words but feel it’s off to a better start. I also find that ideas I played around with years ago keep coming back into my mind so I might have another shot at them at some point. I don’t think an incomplete manuscript is ever wasted effort – it’s still practise writing and sometimes you need to let the ideas develop in the background.

    • Reply

      Thanks, Margarita! I agree, there’s no such thing as wasted writing, and I intend to return to some of those half-finised works eventually. I have to back up all the time as part of my story crafting/finding process too. Good luck with the new manuscript!

  2. jan petrie


    good one, thxs. helps to know not alone in my doubts. :-/

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Jan Petrie


    That makes me the ‘mother hare’ of the plot bunnies.

    How fitting for spring.

  4. Reply

    It’s always nice to get the first draft finished. I just finished all the edits for my novel and am sending it to beta readers next week. It’s my first book (in 10+ years) so I hope my betas can help me plug the holes, clear up the inconsistencies and help me get it ready to market this summer.
    Now I’m struggling with what to work on next because all my “ideas” aren’t very alluring at the moment.

  5. Pingback: How to write a book one blog post at a time | Write on the World

  6. Reply

    Now that you reminded me, I’m going back to the Stephen Cannell rule of thumb. Never start another book/script until you finish the last one [no matter the genre]. Closely followed by his always finish what you start.

    I broke the rules with Just One Look so I have one in 3rd draft and one in rough. No more. Finish one before I finish the other. If that man could be that prolific, it works.

    April’s rough draft is canceled.

  7. Reply

    Such great advice. I’m working hard at sticking with finishing this one, which I love, and not letting other enticing projects lure me… Congratulations on the completion of a manuscript! That’s a huge accomplishment.

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