For Writers: Keeping the End in Sight

In case I haven’t mentioned it—and I’m pretty sure I have—I recently finished the first draft of my novel. Until then, I’d found writing easy, lovely, pleasant. Then I spent eighteen months embroiled in a war with my own head about how to get this story out the way I wanted it to sound. But I always knew I’d finish, that quitting was not an option. This is mainly because my thesis has to be a completed novel of over sixty thousand words. Without that motivation, I have to admit, finishing would have been a lot tougher.

So what do you do when the momentum ends, when it stops being fun, when you feel like you’re wading through treacle? Stop, think, and consider the following questions.

 

1. Why are you writing?

What made you start doing this? What are you hoping to achieve? If you want this book/story/play to be published one day, then visualize that happening. None of the success you imagine will happen while you have an empty page, so get writing.

 

2. Why do you want to stop?

Is it because you don’t feel like you have the time for this project? Is the story itself not working? Are you bored with it? If it’s a time thing, planning creatively to give yourself an extra few minutes a day might fix things. If the story itself is the problem, then try to think of how it could be better. Does it need a different viewpoint, different pace?

 

3. What will happen if you quit?

Probably nothing. The sky won’t cave in, the earth will still keep orbiting. But how will you feel? Often, the only boss we have with writing is ourselves, and there’s nothing worse than missing out on that feeling of completion just because you couldn’t keep going.

Sometimes we feel like we can’t finish. But, most of the time, with some time away and a little thinking space, we can pick up again. Think of the Olympians gearing up right now—they do not think of failure, just the finish line. Unleash your inner athlete and keep the end in sight.

 

Helen Dring is a fiction writer from Liverpool, England. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing and is currently writing her first novel. She likes fairy tales, ghost stories and modern history.

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