Saturday, January 2, 2010

Finish Your Book Already!

Do you know what keeps seventy-five percent of all aspiring authors off the bookstore shelves?

It’s not getting an agent, putting together a killer query, or even writing a bestseller. What keeps them off the shelves is quitting before their book is finished. I’m no different from those writers. I’m insecure about my talent. I’m a bit lazy at times.

I like the idea of publishing my book but the work involved is daunting. First, you have to have the idea, then develop it, write a minimum of sixty thousand words on it. When you finish all of that, you get to start editing and then edit again.

I don’t think anyone ever finishes editing, they merely stop.

Writers get frustrated, I get frustrated. This is why most people quit before finishing Chapter 7 of their rough draft.

Go on, admit it, you have a half-written novel either in your desk drawer or on your computer right this minute, don’t you?

I thought so.

Don’t feel bad, I have two.

Those two novels starts were mostly dry runs where I tried to figure out what I wanted, what I wanted to write, who I was as a writer. Mostly, they were crap. But…if I spent the time to finish and edit them, they might be publishable.

I dropped the ball and that is completely my fault.

My current novel attempt, Plum Crazy, benefited from my failures. I have a better idea of what I want and expect from my book. I’m clear on the general plot including start, major climaxes, and ending but I left a lot of room for improvising. I like to improvise and you have to go with what works for you.

Recently, I’ve doubted my idea, my writing, my voice, basically everything about this book. I stopped writing. Not because the book was bad but because I let my own insecurities strangle my creativity. I let me get in the way of me.

I’m forcing myself to write the next chapter even though I think it’s horrid. Sometimes, I’m convinced that a three year old monkey with a typewriter writes better prose than me but I’m putting the ink on paper. Why? Because you can edit almost any piece of crap into a readable story if you have patience and a dab of talent.

But you can’t edit blank pages.

So if you want to be published, your first and most important task is a simple one. Just finish your darn book.

And while you’re at it, could you write the next chapter of mine?


*Also published under my collaborative blog, Journeys in Ink.


  1. Hey,
    saw your post on TBNW so I'm trying to leave a comment like you asked. Now lets see if it works. :)

    Tina DC Hayes

  2. I read something the other day, may have even been today (I'm scatty and I read a lot). I can't even remember the band's name, but anyway...they were talking about their first album (it might have been Sting)...and saying that they could have gone on and on editing it but they were told to stop. To the band, it wasn't finished. I imagine that is true with many creative processes - you have to learn when to let go :) Okay, so you have insecurities but you also have enough wisdom to know what has been holding you back. Truth is, you can't please all of the people all of the time. Why not just be you? Because you're the only you, that can be you - and you're funny. I think so, a couple of people who read your blog said so and I've seen it on a few of your comments. Also, watching this video might help (it helped me).

  3. Also, you might find what this lady has to say useful - she encourages people to write and get their book published.

  4. Loved the blog. I have four half-written novels in my desk. However, I have finished I feel good about that. Problem is, I'm so full of good ideas and I don't want to forget them so I start writing the novels as soon as I can but I only can get so far before I know I have to finish the project I was working on previously.


  5. I read this already and commented at your group blog. Love this post still!

    Testing your comments for you.

  6. See, those other starts and stops were just the warming up to the real deal, so you didn't really fail to finish, just had to learn to get to the finish line.

    Did that make any sense at all because it's nearly six and I have not been to bed yet, and I know what I hear in my head, so I hope I got that across.

  7. Looks like your comments are working now :)

  8. Yeah, have my NaNo project to finish. Just as soon as I'm done with this one. :)

  9. I just got my MS back from my editor and she took my 80,000 word inspirational book down to 44,000. The red ink was something liken to a scene out of a horror movie. I then had to go back and re-edit in what I decided to keep and it is now back to around 57,000 words. Having written my MS out longhand, transposed it to type, then I did the first edit and second edit personally, then proof read, submitted to others, then had it professionally edited, I can easily see why people say f-it. I am just hopeful that my work sees a shelf some day as at this point, it is now a quest, and I am glad to hear I am not alone! Good luck to you!

  10. When we write, we feel like we'll never finish, that it'll never be good enough. And then like Tony, then you get someone interested, you have to ask how much of their opinion will use to edit it.

    I think as writers we've chosen a career that keeps us constantly unsure if we're right. Perhaps, we just develop a gut feeling after a while. Or maybe we say f-it and do what we want.