Friday, July 3, 2015

Writing: Finish What You Started – Setting Yourself Up for Success

There is nothing more discouraging than being passionate about writing, yet never able to truly finish anything; having it always lurking in the back of your head as just another unfinished project. I will get to it eventually, or one day I will work on it, you say to yourself.

Here are some of my tips to help set you up for writing success.

Set a deadline for yourself and strive to reach it.

It was not until I entered a contest that I found what a beauty a deadline could be. Yeah, deadlines can stink, but if you are writing for yourself, deadlines can be a blessing. The contest deadline kicked me into gear to write every day in order to complete it in a timely fashion.

Now when I write, I give myself a deadline. A realistic due date that works for me. This lingering date ultimately motivates me to write more often in order to meet that deadline.

You know your schedule; you know what you are writing, look at a calendar and decide for yourself how long you think it will take to write it. If you are writing a novel, maybe break it down by chapters, having a deadline for each one. Small steps are better than no steps.

Create an outline.

Some people write without outlines, and that is fine, but for others, like me, they can help you stay on the right track. I never use to create outlines, but I also never finished anything I wrote either. Now I create a bullet style outline of every scene before I even get into the writing.

When I begin the writing process, I will keep it close by, crossing off the bullets as I go. Not only does this keep me on track, but following the outline clears my mind of thinking about what is next in the story. This lets me think solely on the scene I am currently writing, helping me put as much detail into it as possible.

Find time to write every day.

I wrote a couple of months back on How to Write on a Daily Schedule. In there I talked about how you can get yourself into the habit of writing every day.

Even if it is just for an hour a day, every little bit of writing will help you reach your deadline goal.

Do not edit as you write – just write.

One of the big mistakes I made early on was trying to edit my work as I moved along. I constantly went back to parts I had written and tweaked them repeatedly. Not only did I try to make the writing flawless, but I also kept trying to add things in to make it better.
Long story short, the re-writing did not move me forward, which never allowed me to finish what I was trying to write. All I ended up with was a pile of random pages and an unfinished story.

Save all the edits for when you are finished with a rough draft. That is why they call a rough draft, because it is not complete yet. Getting the whole story down is the first major step. Afterwards, you can go back and sweeten things up. If you think of something new to add, jot it down on a piece of paper and add it in after you have your rough draft completed.


In conclusion, I wish you luck with whatever it is you are writing. There is nothing more frustrating than having something you started writing months, sometimes even years ago, but have never been able to finish. I am not an expert, just a guy with a passion for writing, but I hope that some of the things I shared here can help you finally start finishing rather than just beginning.

I will leave you with this quote...

“If you really want to do something, you'll find a way.
If you don't, you'll find an excuse.”
– Jim Rohn

- Matt