Just get it done! Finish your novel already.

Finish Your Novel!When you’ve been working on a number of projects for what seems like years, including trying to finish your novel, you’ll try anything to get traction and move forward. That’s what humans do. Trouble is, we don’t focus on one thing and work it until the end, we try a dozen things at once!

Ever decided that you wanted to lose a bit of weight? Have you ever just stopped eating too much? No, you’ve bought books, gone to therapy, started a bunch of prescribed diets, maybe gone to the gym, fretted about standing on the scales every day at exactly the right time with absolutely nothing on… When all you had to do was burn more than you ate. But when you really want to do something and you can’t seem to get traction, you look for any and all solutions. And in case one doesn’t work, you run two or three or six in parallel.

In the writing world, that means working on non-fiction, short stories, a screenplay, the novel, building a website, going on courses, doing research for everything…

All you really need to do is sit down, chill out a bit, focus on the most important piece of work, get that done AND OUT THERE, and then move onto the next thing.

Now, once you’re in the flow of writing and you have a few projects on the go, then knock your blue spotted socks off and go for it. But when you have too much going on and aren’t finishing anything, don’t do it. Just don’t risk it. Don’t overload yourself.

Most likely, you already have a day job along with a pile of other family commitments, so it makes perfect sense for your mind to shut down when you try to pile half a dozen writing projects into the mix. You probably already have too much going on.

Choose ONE project. Get it finished. Move to the next one.

Now, your natural instinct might be to say that your novel is the most important thing. Stop everything else and focus on that. But it might not be! It might be the half dozen stories that are almost ready for sale. Maybe it’s the Kindle book you published but haven’t pushed.

The mental pressure of unfinished work builds a barrier distracting you from moving on and focusing on the project you do perceive as being most important.

So work out what unfinished work might be stopping you finishing your novel (writing work, not the garden shed clear-out) and sort it.  List everything you need to get done, and then sit down and work on each one until it’s FINISHED and you can cross it off the list.

Philip Roth said: “The road to hell is paved with Works-In-Progress!”

I’m inclined to agree!

Get it done today. Finish something.

If you’re a writer, eat the frog first!

If you're a writer, eat the frog first!I could write a 2000 word blog about this (Brian Tracy wrote a whole book!), but I’m going to be brief so you can get on with things. If you want to achieve the important things in your life (including being the writer you want to be), eat the frog first!

Do what’s difficult. Do what you’ve been avoiding. Do what you’re scared to do. Do what will honestly move you forward.

Look at everything you want to do today, pick the thing that will actually lead you to achieving your goal, do that first (no matter how hard/scary it is), then get on with the rest of it.

So if you’re selling something (book, short story, article, pot plant) and can’t seem to get started – make selling it the first thing you do. Don’t mess about with emails and internet research and other such excuses. Pick up the phone.

If you want to get fit but would rather have cream cakes for breakfast – get to the gym first. Don’t go shopping for new gym gear.

If you’re writing and have been putting it off – get your words in first. Leave social media and emails until later in the day. Why? Because once you’ve eaten the frog, you’ll actually have something to talk about and contribute.

For more about eating frogs, have a read of Brian Tracy’s book “Eat That Frog”.

Damn delicious, I promise you.

Don’t set deadlines!

Don't set deadlines

Now this will fly in the face of pretty much every self-proclaimed goal-setting guru you’ve ever given a penny of your honestly earned cash to. But when it comes to writing your first novel (and staying even remotely sane in the process), then do yourself a favor and don’t set deadlines.

Let me clarify…

I’m not saying all deadlines should be avoided. If you didn’t have them, you’d probably not do anything, so some deadlines are essential. For instance, commit to writing a certain number of words every day (or for a number of hours/minutes) – good or bad. Doesn’t matter. Just WRITE. By the time you go to sleep at night, you must have written your allotted number of words or for your allotted time. This has to happen every day – 7 days a week – 365 days a year – including Christmas! Why? Because if you don’t, the dark side takes over!

So what deadlines should you not set?

Don’t set any deadlines over which you have no control! You don’t own those deadlines. So any deadline that includes an agent, scout, or publisher is not yours to work to.

Things always take longer than you planned. You might want your first novel to be on the shelves by Christmas, but agents and publishers have their own agendas including telling you that your work isn’t even ready for submission, let alone publication.

To begin with, an agent might take the full three to four months to get back to you with a simple (no explanation attached) “No”.

“Crap,” you think. “My deadline!”

So you tweak it a bit and send it off to another agent with a new (personally imposed) deadline. You missed Christmas so now it’s a summer read. That agent keeps it for three to four months and again, you get a simple (no explanation attached) “No”.

Only two agents have seen your book and almost half the year is gone. So now you’re determined and you send it off to six agents at once. They all make you wait three months and all come back with a “Not for us, thanks”, except one.

Oh, Holy Grail.

This one says: “Almost. Go to Cornerstones Literary Consultancy for help.”



It’s perfect!

And it’s December – the end of the second year. You wanted to be on the shelves by now but all you’ve done is WAIT for an agent to get back to you. And what do you have to show for your patience? Nothing except a year where you haven’t written a word. Why haven’t you written a word? Because you didn’t want to start book two until you saw how book one was received.

On New Year’s Day you look at your goals for the previous year and feel you’ve wasted a year of your life. The buzz of “Maybe This Time”, “Maybe today I’ll get the call/email/letter from an excited agent who loves my work” has dripped from your body leaving you a sodden, disheartened globule of humanity on the floor.



Have a rolling writing program that looks a little like this:

ONE: Focus on your first novel and get it as finished as you can.

TWO: Send it to an expert to review (You might love your family and friends, but please don’t give them your novel unless they’re experts in the publishing field. They’re unlikely to tell you that what you’ve worked on for years is shite).

THREE: While it’s away, start a new project over which you have full control (non-fiction for Kindle publication, short stories for competitions). Chances are, your novel will be out for review for anything up to six weeks. Spend that time completing another project. You CAN write a dozen short stories or non-fiction book in six weeks. If you like, outline the next novel too.

FOUR: When book one is back, do the edits and send it off again – then keep working on your mini projects. Send the competition stories out. Publish your non-fiction on Kindle.

FIVE: No matter what response you get from the scouts, agents, or publishers, deal with it, send it out again, and keep working on stuff you can control. Keep writing. Write every day.

The trick? Always have something out there – either on the market or out for review – preferably both!

Doing this will keep your heart and feet in the business of writing instead of wasting months and years of your time hoping and waiting for a call. Keep submitting your work. Keep writing. You’ll get that call because you won’t give up.

Happy writing today!