8 Things I Have Done To Try To Finish This Novel

I’m the kind of writer who doesn’t write. It’s not really that I’m afraid. It’s not that I don’t think I’m good – quite the opposite in fact. I’ve learned to be blessed with the realisation that the world isn’t going to jump up out of its bed in the morning to tell me that my stories are amazing, and seeing as someone has to think I’m great, it might as well be me, right?

No, it’s not fear. It’s because I’ve always been told to work on one literary project at a time and only when it’s done can you move on.

So I don’t write. I re-write. It’s like being stuck in an elevator with your own death.

I couldn’t tell you at what stage the novel in. In and of itself, I think it’s finished, in the way that old mansions are half-ruined and then restored with architecture that looks like it’s from an era 200 years ahead of itself. It has a nonlinear narrative. What the hell was I even thinking.

Make it stop

So you’d think that writing would be a piece of cake, and it is. The thing about writing that’s hard is that you have to edit what you’ve written…and I’ve discovered that one of two things is happening:

  • I’m a terrible editor of my own work
  • I really should have planned out this novel before I began to write it

Is this sounding familiar to anyone out there? I get the feeling I might not be alone.

  1. I’ve been dragging this novel manuscript along behind me like a ball and chain that extends back into the mists of time (i.e. back to 2009) and that I can’t entirely rid myself of. I’ve tried destroying the manuscript – no, really. I threw the physical copy into a public trash bin and deleted what I thought were all copies from my warren of cloud and physical storage devices. I got it back in the end; it was stuffed way down in my emails as an attachment
  2. I tried re-writing it, cutting 35,000 words in one editing session alone
  3. I lay all of the chapters on the floor in neat rows and perched on a table, staring down at them as if I’d see some pattern when I was further away
  4. I have read all manner of blog posts, how tos guides, top tips on editing your book, more blog posts, and advice from famous writers, as well as books by famous writers about how to write
  5. I did an MA in Writing – somehow forgetting that the course was in writing, not editing
  6. I brainstormed
  7. I asked someone else to read a teeny bit of it, and that was quite helpful.

So I’ve just asked Twitter if anyone wants to be my beta reader. Watch this space.


4 thoughts on “8 Things I Have Done To Try To Finish This Novel

  1. So proud of you to keep going! It’s such hard work. I lost two pages of edits and have lost all incentive! I am staring at it now, willing those two pages to reappear!


  2. I feel your pain! A beta reader (or two) is a great idea. Editing is difficult and most writers are their own worst critics. We really don’t know what’s working and what isn’t. I came very close to completely rewriting a story that turned out to be a favorite for my readers. Thankfully I had a writing coach who stopped me before I made that mistake. Now I make sure my stories go through several experienced readers (at least one of whom is a fellow writer) before I decide how I’m going to approach my next draft. The perspective is invaluable.

    I hope your beta reader does the same for you.


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