Strategies to finish your novel!

Anyone doing NanoWriMo? I've never *officially* done it, although I realized that I've pretty much been doing the same word count requirements the past couple months, and I plan on doing it next month, too. (1500 words a day). Of course, this is my job, so I admit I have it easier than all the courageous NaNoWriMo-ers who are juggling work/school/family as they squeeze in a few hours of dedicated writing time every day.  In honor of NaNoWriMo, I thought I'd share part of a "Finishing Your Novel Tip Sheet" that I made a couple years ago for an event.  Hope it helps!

PSYCHOLOGICAL STRATEGIES: The main obstacle to finishing your novel is usually self-doubt, so you need to figure out ways to deal  with this. Understand how your creative process works, identify the glitches you'll probably encounter, and have tools ready to deal with this.   Possible strategies include:

o   Join a writers' group that requires you to submit regularly and gives you frequent encouragement

o   Give yourself a daily pep talk in your journal, remind yourself that you're capable of doing this. Find a useful way to conceptualize the novel-writing process—e.g.  maybe the story exists in its entirety in your unconscious mind, and your job is simply to bring it into the world.

o   Set small goals—like chapters or scenes—and celebrate little successes.  Set bigger goals every year as well.

o   Perfectionism usually does more harm than help until the very last stages of novel-writing.  Accept the inevitable messiness of a novel-in-progress.  That's the beauty of accepting that you'll do many revisions—it takes the pressure off.

o   Disconnect the Internet during your writing time.  ("Freedom" is a great
    program that I use on my PC-- it's available for Macs, too. $10 to download.)

o   Read books about creative processes that will cheer you on—The Artist's Way, Bird by Bird, The Writing Life, etc.

o   Don't get lost in little inconsequential  details as a form of procrastination. Move on to the big stuff.

o   Don't wallow in research for years as a form of procrastination.  Make sure you're actually writing.

o   Keep a list of reasons why you love your story, why it's important to bring it into the world, etc. Refer to this list and add to it often.

o   If you feel you can never find time to finish, schedule writing time every day or week that you honor as a priority.  This might mean hiring a babysitter to give you writing time.

o   Have a writing space devoid of distraction (like a trailer in your driveway!) or go to a café—whatever creative atmosphere works for you.

*Lots of good wishes to you on your writing journey!  Stay tuned for more tip sheets that I'll be posting over the next few weeks...*