Unorthodox Writing Tips 40: How to Finish Something
Can I tell you a secret? You promise you won’t tell anyone? I’m going to let you into a secret on how to finish that book or short story you’re writing.
Type ‘The End’.
Okay, but seriously, how do you get to the end of a story. It’s such a long path. There are so many words you need to write to complete a story.
I use Outlook for my email. It’s easy to let the email pile up. It doesn’t take up much space. I can order it however I like. I don’t have to worry about how much space it takes up because it’s not physical. I can just let it accumulate and I’ll get around to organizing it later. Today I looked at my inbox. It was over 200. At one point I used to have over 2000 items in my inbox. I need to reduce that number. How do I do that? A little at a time. I’ll move items into folders if I don’t want to get rid of it and I’ll delete older items that I no longer need. I know I’ll be able to get it back to below 100 in a few days of spending a little time each day dedicated to reducing that number of items in my inbox and keeping that number low.
The same thing works for getting a piece of fiction (or non-fiction) written. For me, I try to knock out at least a little bit each day. I know how many words I want to write and how far I need to get. I have a clear and measurable goal. Each day I keep track of the number of words I’ve written and I can see the number of words I need to write to complete a work go down. I dedicate a little bit of time every day and just type.
Honestly. It’s that simple. Even if you only spend fifteen minutes a day writing you’ll get closer to your goal than if you spend no time and try to cram all your writing into one binge session. Yes, it’s possible to write in a binge session, but for me I’ve found it easier to write a lot of words in a shorter time. If I have two or three hours of free time I’ll fill it with something else rather than sit and write. So I try to set aside at least 30 minutes a day to write.
Well that’s not a lot of time, is it?
For me, it is. I type quickly. I can type up to 2500 words in an hour. Yes, writing fiction. So it’s not difficult for me to take 30 minutes and write 1000 words. It’s harder for me to find the free and quiet time. Once I have it, I know it’s not a lot of time and I need to get writing from the word go. If I set aside a lot of time, I’ll find myself playing angry birds, temple run, reading a book or comic book, or even watching TV figuring I have all this free time, let’s see what else I can do.
That’s where I need to restrict myself. If I write for my 30 minutes, great! Then I’ll do something else. If I don’t write for those 30 minutes then I know I need to spend my time writing. If I get done with my 30 minutes and I feel like going longer, awesome! I’ll write longer and see just how many words I can knock out in that given day. So far this year I’ve had a few days where I’ve written over 6000 words. I don’t even feel I’m writing at my full potential on those days because I took breaks, played games, watched TV, and other things instead of just writing, but perhaps that’s what pushed my forward. Knowing that I could do more than I was doing.
I know I’ve said this many times, but writing daily and keeping track of your progress is helpful in many ways. It keeps your goal in front of you at all times. It makes you think and rethink the choice of playing a game or writing. Should I watch another episode of True Blood or should I sit down and write first? Will I find inspiration when I read that comic book, or will I feel rewarded after I’ve written and then enjoy the comic?
Type a word. Type a sentence. Type a paragraph. Continue this until you type ‘The End’. You don’t have to write for hours every day. Once you get the hang of sitting and writing in those little periods you can see your word count go up. It’ll go up dramatically faster than you think it will. You just need to make the time, sit down, and write. You can do this.
Until Next Time!