So you’ve spent months—maybe years—obsessing over your characters. The colour of their eyes. The way they eat, speak, sleep.

But you’re still no closer to finishing your story.

And you don’t know why.

Here’s how to finish writing a book—no matter how long you’ve been writing it.

Know where your book is going (aka, planning is everything)

I’m a big advocate for planning.

It makes the writing process much, much faster.

It also stops you from writing in circles, or writing yourself into a hole.

It ensures that you iron out any of the issues before you get to the main writing stage.

And I know, it sounds tedious.

I used to hate planning.

But now I really enjoy it.

Sometimes, once you get through the ‘Ugh, this is tedious and unnecessary,’ phase, you actually find that those things you once dreaded are neither tedious nor unnecessary.

And maybe—just maybe—you’ll even fall in love with it.

Set deadlines

Deadlines can be great motivators.

Don’t make your deadline to have a finished, polished version of your story, though.

Break the process of writing a book into small, manageable chunks.

If it’s your first book, you’re unlikely to know how long it will take you to finish something.

So break your book down into each task. It might look something like this:

  1. Write character description for Hollie
  2. Write character description for Fayth
  3. [Continue for each main character]
  4. Plot character arc for Hollie
  5. Plot character arc for Fayth
  6. [Continue for each main character]
  7. Write first chapter
  8. Write second chapter

You may not know the full number of chapters you need (this isn’t something I plan), but breaking it down by chapter makes the task of writing and finishing a book far less intimidating.

Then, when you’ve done each step, you can reward yourself with a cookie ? or other treat of your choice!

The rewards are important: they enhance that warm, fuzzy feeling you get from finishing something. Then, you start to associate that with each step of the writing journey.

Eventually, just by writing, you’ll get that warm, fuzzy feeling.

So then you want to write EVEN MORE.

Who needs drugs when you have writing and a little bit of basic psychology?

Be accountable

Tell people what your deadlines are.

Get them excited to read your project.

Have a writing buddy.

Join a writing community.

Talk to other writers on social media.

Do whatever it is that you need to do to be accountable.

The more you do, the better.

Having readers who want to know what happens next to Hollie and Fayth motivates me to keep writing about them even when I’m struggling.

And this time last year, I really struggled.

I almost quit writing fiction all together.

But I didn’t want to let my readers down.

And so I took a break, then came back to my fiction with renewed enthusiasm and finished drafts of two books by the summer.

Make writing a priority, not an afterthought

This is, to me, the most important part.

I’ve discussed it with many of my writing friends, and they agree.

Whether you’re single, in a relationship, have a family, are a carer…none of that matters.

Whatever your situation is in life, you need to make writing a priority.

If writing isn’t a priority, you’ll put everything else before it.

But it should be the other way around—your writing should come before everything else.

You may have to cancel social engagements to make a deadline.

You may have to let people down.

But writing should come right at the top of your priorities.

Now, I’m not saying it should come before looking after yourself or those around you. Self-care is imperative.

However, if you have a family, for example, do they rely on you for everything?

Is that healthy?

Is there anyone else that could take your small children off your hands for a few hours or days a week so that you have time to write?

Could you make it clear to your children that between 5pm and 6pm it’s writing time and you are not to be disturbed unless the house is on fire?

Set up rules, and make them very clear.

This works with children, family members, even partners. They may not agree at first, but if you remain firm and make it clear how important this is to you, as people that love you, they will come to respect your time and space.

If they don’t, something is deeply wrong.

Sometimes you have to say goodbye…

Sometimes a book idea just doesn’t work.

Or it just isn’t for you.

By forcing yourself to keep going with something when it doesn’t feel right, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

When a book idea is right, you just know.

It’s like when you meet your partner or find your new house. You get a gut instinct that this is the next part of your journey.

And if you don’t have that yet, keep experimenting.

Don’t see it as a reason to give up.

See it as a reason to try out new things. Kiss a few frogs. Experiment. Be open-minded.

You never know what will stick.

Over to You

What are your tips for staying motivated when writing a book? Share them in the comments!