#1 Strategy for Finishing a Book

A Writer’s Roadmap Thursday Postcard

April 14, 2022

“If you wait until you got time to write a novel, or time to write a story, or time to read the hundred thousands of books you should have already read – if you wait for the time, you will never do it. ‘Cause there ain’t no time; world don’t want you to do that. World wants you to go to the zoo and eat cotton candy, preferably seven days a week.”

Harry Crews

This postcard is brought to you by the number 1.

Books, stories, essays, articles–whatever you’re writing, or want to write: how do you get it done?

You get it done by making it #1 at some point every day, or five days a week, or whatever your writing schedule is. Make it the most important thing for even 30 minutes. Make it your absolute #1 task that must get done. 

To do that, it helps to think about what makes you prioritize certain things.

Maybe your house is cleanest when you know someone’s coming over. You get that done to save face.

Maybe you get your finances the most organized they’ll ever be right before tax time. You get that done to file taxes on time and avoid the government’s cold eye on your back. 

As Harry Crews points out above, we need to choose where to put our time. I’m working on a novel and procrastination was making it into this big hairy deal that I didn’t want to face. Nor did I want to NOT write it.

Then my older brother Chris told me about 750 Words, an online place to get some writing done. There’s a free 30-day trial, then it’s $5 a month.

I did not expect to love it, but I do. Somehow it’s got me writing 5,000 words a week (1100 M-Thu, 750 on Friday). It showers the page with confetti when I reach 750 words. I get a spirit penguin  badge for showing up.

But what really floats my boat is this unexpected side benefit–it analyzes my language, gives me a word cloud for each session, and has revealed to me that my novel so far has more thinking than feeling, and completely ignores the sense of smell. 

I recommend it!

But there are other ways to put writing first. Swap manuscripts with a writing buddy, join a writing group, find a contest and get your stuff ready to send.

Accountability, support, hitting a deadline, saving face–whatever motivates you, attach that to your writing to make it your #1 thing for a few minutes each day.