Top Ten Tips for Never Finishing Your Novel

Dear Reader,

Writing is hard. There is a lot of work involved when it comes to dreaming, planning, and executing an idea of yours into a fully-formed novel. There are, of course, many excellent resources available on the internet that will give you all the necessary steps of how to complete your work in progress. But what if you don’t want to ever type “THE END”? What if you want to be stuck in writing limbo forever? Luckily, I’ve put together a list that I believe is a sure-fire way to never finish that new novel of yours.

  1. Make Excuses: Excuses are great because the harder you look, the more you find. Examples include: You’re too tired right now. You have to feed the dog and take them for a walk. You need to pay those bills. There’s a new season of Mad Men starting soon and you need to catch up on all the episodes you missed. Your chair isn’t comfy. You forgot to vacuum yesterday. And so on and so on.
  2. Wait for the Inspiration: Don’t worry about looking at the news and current events, doing some soul-searching, talking to friends, or thinking about what subjects you want to write about. Just sit around the house and wait. You could try opening a window. An idea will surely fly into your room, so just give it some more time.
  3. Set Yourself a Ridiculously Challenging New Quota: Okay, so you haven’t written anything for a week. It’s midnight right now. Go to bed and declare that tomorrow, you will rise with the sun and write 25,000 new words by the end of the day. Why, that’s a quarter of the book! Do that for four days and you’ll be done.
  4. Beat Yourself Up When You Don’t Reach Your Goals: “You couldn’t write 25,000 words yesterday?” “You only wrote 500 words?” “Oh man, what’s wrong with you?” “You must not be a real writer.” Let these thoughts fester until they are deep within your consciousness and you throw away the laptop to curl up in the fetal position.
  5. Don’t Talk to Other Writers: Sure, you could chat with fellow wordsmiths and compare notes and gain support from people who are struggling just like you are, but why would you want to do that? You need to be busy writing, not socializing!
  6. Watch marathons of random YouTube videos: Okay, so you’re not actually writing, but it sure is a lot of fun. And there are cat videos! Everyone loves cat videos. To get the most from this tip, make sure you plow through these marathons during all of your scheduled writing times.
  7. Do Exactly What Everyone Else Does: There is no such thing as individuality or working on your own schedule or developing your own pattern and work flow. No, what you need to do is copy other people’s schedules. That guy Doug gets up at five in the morning and writes eight hundred words before work, so copy him! Not a morning person? Who cares?
  8. Expect Perfection the First Time Around: Editing is for amateurs. Everyone knows that all of the great writers wrote their best work in one draft. They probably didn’t even reach for a glass of water while they were furiously scribbling their masterpieces. It’s a good thing to remember that if your new book doesn’t look like Mrs. Dalloway by the first page, you’re probably doing something very wrong.
  9. Put Massive Amounts of Pressure On Yourself: If you find yourself having a moment of tranquility, remind yourself of everything that you will lose if you don’t finish your project. Perhaps make a check list of the consequences (real or imagined, it doesn’t matter) that come with a failed book and carry it around. Of course, so much pressure might break your sanity, but think of all the wonderful experiences you could write about after you return from the psychiatric unit.
  10. Never Believe in Yourself: This one is perhaps the most important tip of all. Make sure you go to a dark room and repeatedly tell yourself all of the reasons why you are a horrible failure that will never write anything that anyone will ever care about. Don’t stop until you are positive that you are a no-good loser. Once you start believing in yourself, you might actually develop the confidence you need to finish your novel, and who wants that?

Know any other tips? Let me know in the comments section down below.




32 Responses to Top Ten Tips for Never Finishing Your Novel

  1. My personal favorite excuse is: “Life got in the way.” Which always makes me wonder how well anyone could write *without* life. Thanks for dropping by SageOfTheSouth.

  2. I’m laughing inside…like…with that weird grin on my face that says I’m about to laugh after I finish writing this comment like a goof, because if I laugh while I write then I’ll mess up what I’m writing, lol, dammit. I laughed anyway. This was a great post.

  3. All right; I definitely and currently fit #1 though I have a question for the writer you are: what if I’m a method writer and need to feel it in order to write about it?

    • Good question. I’m not exactly sure what the answer to that one is. I like to think that your best work will come when you are really engaged with your material….but that might just be my excuse to keep watching YouTube!

      • Errr… Heh, what a Catch-22. The problem is I can’t engage because I don’t feel it. If I can’t feel it, I can’t express it. Re-reading it doesn’t generate the feelings necessary to continue — it just points out how absent those feelings are within me.

        And I watch plenty of YouTube. That just generates snarkishness at youngings and thinking that many of their parents should have abstained rather than spawned… err, procreated. err.. shouldn’t have left the birth control and condoms in the bedside cabinet. 🙂 Maybe I should just stick to being a crotchety old man until the feelings kick in… \o/


  4. This was very timely and great to read. Thanks for pointing out the things we do tell ourselves when we want to finish a book and can’t seem to carve out that niche of time to do it. Just do it!!! It reminds me of the old adage to start something you have been putting off and tell yourself that you will just do it for ten minutes. Then see how it goes. Usually, you will stick with it. So, “Don’t Start Writing” works (or should I say… doesn’t work 😉

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