72% of Writers Struggle With THIS

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In a survey we recently conducted, seventy-two percent of people said they were focusing on or struggling to do one thing: finish their book.

72% of Writers Struggle With Not Knowing How to Finish Writing a Book

In a recent survey we conducted, 72% of people said they were focusing on or struggling to finish writing a book.

The fact that so many said they struggle knowing how to finish writing a book did not surprise me.

Nearly every day, I hear from writers who want to finish their book but don't know how. They tell me they have great ideas, have already finished a few chapters, but they just can't summon the motivation to complete what they started.

Why We Struggle to Finish Our Books

I can relate. At one point in my life, I struggled to finish every creative project I started. As a kid, my house was filled with half-filled journals, half-built carpentry projects, and, of course, half-written books.

It actually wasn't until I started blogging that I learned the secret to finishing:

Small deadlines.

We've published a post on The Write Practice nearly every day since July 2011 (nearly four years as of this writing!). Since then, I've written four books, published short stories, and taught nearly a dozen writing courses.

While I still have a lot of unfinished projects, I now feel like I have more control. I can now finish things when I really want to, as long as I use my secret trick.

Why do small deadlines work, and can they work for you? Let's find out.

How to Finish Writing a Book

To finish a book, you need stress.

Before you scoff, let me make my case.

While stress isn't a particularly pleasant feeling, it's absolutely necessary if you want to be productive. Daniela Kaufer, a biology researcher at UC Berkeley, says this about the positive side of stress:

You always think about stress as a really bad thing, but it’s not. Some amounts of stress are good to push you just to the level of optimal alertness, behavioral and cognitive performance.

Writers and other creatives often try to avoid stress. They say they need to get into the “zone,” “commune with the muse,” or “wait until inspiration strikes,” as if writing a great book should be easy.

But the truth is, stress helps you be creative. More importantly, it helps you finish things.

Of course, too much stress can ruin your health and eventually de-motivate you. But if you set the right deadlines (and keep them) you can create just enough stress to motivate you to finish your work.

To Finish a Book, Keep Your Deadlines Small

When I first started blogging seven years ago, I decided I would post every day, which meant every day I had a deadline, every day I had to create something or I would feel like I had let my readers down. The best part about these deadlines is that they were small, they only took about two hours to complete.

The mistake most writers make is they make their deadlines too big. They commit to writing a book by the end of the year when they should really commit to writing a page every day for the next year. Huge deadlines make you feel proud of yourself at first, but they can feel too far out of reach and thus are too easy to abandon.

Instead, you need bite-size deadlines, daily deadlines, deadlines you can finish in an hour or spend five hours on if the mood strikes. Small deadlines are harder to abandon, easier to keep, and don't crush your spirit by the enormity of the task.

That's why at The Write Practice we only ask you to practice your writing for fifteen minutes, and in Becoming Writer, our online writing community, we help you write just one piece per week, whether it's a chapter in your novel or a poem or short story.

If the deadlines were larger, you might procrastinate and end up not doing it. But anyone can write for fifteen minutes a day, anyone can write one poem per week, no matter how busy they are.

Two Final Tricks to Finish Your Writing Project

How do you finish a book? Here are two final tricks:

1. Big Deadline + Small Deadlines For The Win

Those larger deadlines can still be helpful for providing an overall vision and directive. You might set a deadline to finish writing your book by January, but then a smaller deadline to write two pages per day.

2. Use Your Emotions to Solidify Your Deadline

Put some emotional mojo behind your deadlines by asking these two question:

“How good will I feel after I finish this deadline?”

Meditate on how you'll feel when you complete your deadline. Imagine how proud of yourself you'll be, how amazing it will be to hold that completed manuscript in your hands. Think about how finishing this project will improve so many other aspects of your life.

You CAN Finish Your Writing Projects

It may not always feel like it, but you can and will finish your writing projects.

You are not powerless to your emotions. You will not be beaten by procrastination. You are committed and you will finish.

Now, go make it happen.

How about you? Do you struggle knowing how to finish writing a book? Let us know in the comments section.

Get Practical Help Finishing Writing Your Book

Very soon, we will be re-launching a resource designed to help you not only finish your writing projects, but also to help you get published, too.

It's called Becoming Writer, and it's a writing community designed around this idea of small deadlines. (You can learn more about Becoming Writer here.)

This will be a limited opening, meaning we'll only be accepting a small number of new members.

However, if you'd like to be the first to get a chance to enroll, please sign up for the Becoming Writer waiting list here. Thank you!

PRACTICE

Today, let's practice finishing.

First, set a deadline. Here's an example: “I'm going to practice my writing for fifteen minutes a day for the next year.” Or: “I'm going to finish my novel by January by writing one page per day, six days a week.”

Then, get started by accomplishing your small deadline today.

Get some accountability and share your deadline with us in the comments section.

For even more encouragement and accountability, check out Becoming Writer, our premium community designed to help you finish your writing projects.

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

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158 Comments

  1. Aruna Ravi

    Wonderful post! I completely agree.
    I have always felt that if I set small targets, I can consistently accomplish them.
    Keep doing this on a daily basis, and achieving goals becomes a routine habit.
    Actually, this advice can be applied to any aspect of life we wish to improve.

    Reply
    • George McNeese

      I agree with setting deadlines in everyday life. I think life will be a little smoother if we all set manageable deadlines. I think we would be surprised at all we can accomplish.

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Indeed it can, Aruna. Thanks!

      Reply
  2. George McNeese

    Deadlines would help me write my short stories. It gets overwhelming when I hear about cramming so much in as little as possible. I’ve heard it say that people should complete a draft in about a day. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much time to myself. Plus, I make the mistake of editing while writing. I need to concentrate on writing a draft. I can set deadlines of writing a page or a scene a day. That certainly will help.

    Reply
    • Davey Northcott

      Hey George. I do the same. I find I can’t resist re-read a chapter that I have just written and then I end up reworking it a bit and then a bit more … and then a bit more. But hey, if it works …! 🙂

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Some people thrive like that and end up having to do very little editing at the end. I go back and forth between vomit writing and painstakingly edit-writing, but I usually am content being somewhere in the middle. You gotta write the way you write, you know?

      Reply
  3. Katya Pavlopoulos

    DEADLINE: I’m going to finish my current WIP by April 31.
    DEADLINE2: To do that, I’m going to write at least 700 words a day, 6 days a week.

    Awesome, encouraging post! I’m a college student, so you’re seriously speaking my language here — I LOVE deadlines, and it’s definitely true that we tend to work better under a liiiiiitle bit of pressure (such as a reasonable deadline)

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      700 words a day. I like it, Katya. How many words do you have so far?

      Reply
      • Katya Pavlopoulos

        Not far, I just started a new project 🙂 I was just short of 4k when I commented. I thought of setting a higher goal, like 2k or something, but I’m so afraid I won’t meet it a few times and then give up, I figured I should start with a lower number.

        Reply
    • Alicia Rades

      Katya, I’m curious what you mean by “finish?” Are you going to complete the first draft and type the words “The End” by April 31? “Finish” could also mean completing the final draft, publishing your story, etc.

      Reply
      • Katya Pavlopoulos

        Complete the first draft, write THE END, and put the work aside for at least a month (start outlining the next project, go to a writing conference, or read a few books on writing in the meantime) and then begin the first round of editing come summer.

        Reply
  4. Davey Northcott

    Deadlines keep me running.

    Running for a train.

    Train it is leaving.

    Leaving far too soon.

    Soon is arriving.

    Arriving yesterday.

    Yesterday it wasn’t finished.

    Finished neither today.

    A light hearted ‘poem’ (apologies to poets for my disregard
    to the rules :S) about deadlines. But yes, I agree, they are vitally important
    in order to actually get anything done. Without them the temptation to just
    keep going a little bit longer often wins out.

    Fair enough, sometimes we have to shift the odd deadline a
    few days, or even weeks, a long the calendar. But hey, I don’t see that as a
    great crime. The fact that we have them keeping the pressure on us is, I think,
    enough.

    My deadlines? Get my debut novel published by Easter. It
    WILL be done! I promise! (You heard it here first … hmmm)

    Follow me on twitter @DaveyNorthcott

    On my blog: http://daveynorthcottauthorwriter.wordpress.com/

    On my FB author page: https://www.facebook.com/daveynorthcottauthorwriter

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Great point, Dave. I thought about adding that to the post, but my deadline was looming. 😉

      That’s a fantastic deadline. Good luck!!!

      And your poem reminded me of that quote from Douglas Adams. Have you heard it? “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”

      Reply
      • Davey Northcott

        Hey Joe. Thanks a lot. I’ve not heard that one but I’ll check it out. Some good old Douglas Adams irony 🙂 He’s great.

        Reply
  5. ruth

    Great post, Joe! Good ideas and the whole writing community is behind you to complete your goals and embrace your new home for a 7 week stay. How exciting!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Ruth! Great to have your support. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Parsinegar

    That’s great news, Joe for your European stay. I’m happy for you. And small deadlines definitely give your conscious mind some jolt to find out how time is just passing away before your eyes, thus big deadlines just mean unattainable goals to me and needless to say if setting goals for writing is one important thing, planning to achieve them is like mapping the best way to get to there!
    Thanks again for your post, reminding me to complete my half-done projects.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks! I think you’ve put it perfectly. Good luck with those projects. 😉

      Reply
  7. Beck Gambill

    Just tapped into the power of this truth recently. I’ve been all over the place with writing projects in the past. I’m ready to take writing to the next level though. I finished the second draft of my first novel this summer but still felt stuck. I realized I needed to send it to my friend for her approval, the story is loosely based on our relationship. I did that last night and felt such freedom. In the meantime I felt inspired to begin a new story but I didn’t want to take the ten years it took to write the last one! So, I challenged myself. I decided to write it on my blog in real time, posting a section every Friday. That deadline is exciting, compelling, and a little intimidating. I’m the kind of person who needs a deadline. The accountability of blog readers is an extra bonus!

    By the way, I’m looking forward to hearing about Paris!

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Wow. What a great deadline. I like it. How’s it going so far?

      Reply
        • Joe Bunting

          You should! Although the singles program can be tough to get into. It’s almost like having Amazon as your publisher. They don’t let that many people in. You should definitely give it a shot though!

          Joe Bunting
          joebunting.com

          Reply
          • Beck Gambill

            Thanks! I’m hoping that all this practicing is going to pay off eventually! Do you have any suggestions on how to get into the program?

  8. Eliese

    I would like to start small. I am enjoying this site so I want to do a practice a day, or write three hundred words in my book. This will leave me room for writing more when I feel the need or, at least, leave me with a steady level of writing a day. The end goal would be to finish the novel. That alone would be my prize.

    Reply
    • Dana Schwartz

      I like your goal, Eliese. 300 words a day feels very attainable, especially when writing during nap time. Steady writing/editing is what I’m trying to do, too. Do you have a novel in progress, and if so, what is it about?

      Reply
      • Eliese

        Thanks. I was worried that the goal was to small but it works for me. I do have a book that I am writing. It’s a story behind a very well known fairy tale. There is much more than that but I don’t want to say to much. 🙂

        Reply
        • Dana Schwartz

          Oh, that is very intriguing! I love reimagining of fairy tales. Hey, if you want an accountability buddy, I’d be in! If so you can reach me off list at: danaheatherschwartz@yahoo.com
          No pressure though 🙂

          Reply
          • Eliese

            Thanks! That’s really sweet of you 😀

        • Kevin Bowling

          This sounds fantastic! Like Dana, I’m a huge fan of revisionist tales (Gregory Macguire, for instance, wrote the Wicked series and a host of others. One of my favorite authors.) if you want someone else to look at your work now and again, feel free to contact me as well: kfb32@nau.edu

          Reply
          • Eliese

            Thanks! It’s nice to have support. I am still drafting it and very shy about anything I’ve written, but I might take you up in your offer in time.

  9. Dana Schwartz

    I love these tips! My big deadline is to finish the new draft of my novel by my birthday in June (a gift to myself) and my small goal is to work on it during my toddler’s naps every day and some evenings if I can stay awake, ha.
    -Dana

    Reply
    • Eliese

      I like this goal and I agree about working when the little one sleeps. Your comment made me laugh because that is exactly what I try to do too. Good luck to you on your book. What is it about?

      Reply
      • Dana Schwartz

        I’m glad I’m not alone in my nap time writing! And thanks for your supportive words about my book. It’s about the aftermath of a car accident, survivor guilt, and the complicated terrain between mothers and daughters.

        Reply
        • Eliese

          Your book sounds like something I would read. 🙂

          Reply
          • Dana Schwartz

            Well, that made my day! 🙂

        • Kevin Bowling

          Sounds intriguing!

          Reply
          • Dana Schwartz

            Thanks so much Kevin!

  10. Adelaide Shaw

    I just completed a deadline I set two months ago. That was to put a collection of previousely publshed short stories on Amazoon Kindle by the end of January. I did it. POTPOURRI, A Collection of Short Stories, Volume 1, is now available on Kindle. Now that my short deadline has been me, I have another deadline, also short: to contact publishers for my completed novel, at least to send two queries a day.

    Adelaide B. Shaw

    Reply
  11. Christine

    Very good subject to tackle. You’re so right that we creative people can easily get enthused about a project, but the steam runs out part way and there we sit.

    One thing you mentioned struck a chord with me: the idea that we creatives try to avoid stress so we can sit and commune with the muse. I see that this is too true for me. I keep wishing to arrive at that state where everything is done and now I can relax. And because things are never all done I’m constantly wishing for the impossible. I need to learn what “joy in the journey” is all about and muse as I work.

    One day a teen girl commented that, “self -discipline may be unpleasant, but it’s the way to freedom in the end.” I grew up in a different generation, one that preached “spontaneity is freedom; routines and schedules are bondage.” Alas, I’ve learned that flying through life leaving a trail of half-finished projects in my wake does not lead one to freedom. That “do whatever you feel like doing” was a disaster. I’m still fighting the effects of that mind-set. I’m glad that teen girl grew up with better teaching. It takes self-discipline to finish projects when they get tough, but it does give a person the sense of accomplishment that makes like fulfilling.

    That same girl’s mother told me one day that it’s not the work we do that makes us feel tired and dragged out; it’s the work we didn’t get done. So I see the mother’s wisdom in her daughter’s thinking.

    At least I can. In writing, housekeeping, gardening, and other areas, I’ve tried to remember that old saying, “better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

    If I have a mountain of dishes on the counter, I tell myself I’ll just wash the glasses now. I’m not going to do the whole works. And once I get started it becomes so much easier to do more—or even the whole job. Better to write one blog post than think of the month of articles I need to do, or answer one e-mail than get bogged down because there are fifteen I MUST answer right now.

    Now for the next problem area: I don’t have fifteen more minutes for a writing exercise because I just spent twenty writing a lengthy comment on someone’s blog post. I’m just too busy writing to find time to actually “write.” Anyone else have THIS problem? 🙂

    Reply
    • Adelaide Shaw

      Yes, I have this problem of planning too many writing projects at one time. Lately, I’ve been making lists of what I want to do. I try to put the list in the order of importance to me. Not everything is ever of equal importance. There is always one project that I want to do first.. Check it off and then do the next. I think stress comes when we set unrealistic deadlines for ourselves. I finally realized that everything I plan will always take longer than I expect. Ideas dry up and life interfers with my time for writing. I’m come to accept that and not be upset when I must delay a writing project. Fortunately, I don’t write for a living. Otherwise I would be a nervous wreck.

      Reply
    • tayyaba

      I have the same problem! 🙁

      Reply
    • Sheila B

      I so relate to the spontaneity issue of my generation, avoiding anything that seems limiting, and, in so thinking, ending up limited. Also with the 20 min writing emails, FB posts (mostly comments), responses to blogs, etc., and not on my own creative writing projects. Must value my own “work” more!!! must must must, and therefore I won’t.
      But perhaps I could look at discipline differently too. The latin root word is discere, meaning to learn. We learn to write by writing. Discipline also means a field of study, so when we write we are studying writing Too often I think of discipline as obeying the rules (doing something I don’t want to do) or being punished for not doing something or doing it wrong. I love to learn so thinking of writing discipline as education might also help me.

      Reply
    • Stella

      Oh yes. It’s amazing how many distractions pop up when you sit down to write. It’s even more insidious when these distractions masquerade as “writing” too – reviewing somebody else’s writing, jotting down thoughts on possible plot ideas, responding to other people’s story ideas. I’ve told myself it only counts as “writing” if it results in something I can publish and label as a story. Or at least, part of a story.

      And the dishes thing happens to me too! When I was living abroad and the sink starts getting full, I’d keep putting things off…but when I told myself I’d just wash the glasses, sometimes the cutlery would get done too, and even the odd pot or pan. The power of starting!

      Reply
  12. Natalie

    As someone who has a lot of trouble finishing projects, this was very helpful. Thanks!

    Reply
  13. Justice

    My writing never goes beyond writing on FB posts and comments but I think it’s worth follow you. This informative article about how to finish incomplete books came with a useful trick which is good for completing all other jobs as well.
    Thanks for coming up with it.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Wow. Thanks Justice. Glad it helped!

      Reply
  14. AlexBrantham

    Good piece. A simple answer might be to say that there are two types of people: those who finish things, and those who don’t. And each person gets to decide which they are. Which do you want to be?

    Another tip to add to the mix, however: each day, after you’ve done your early morning writing practice, write down (that’s important!) appointments for yourself throughout the day when you’re going to do some task. For example: at 11.00, for 60 minutes, I will write 500 new words. Or whatever. The existence of that appointment, at a specific time, will help you avoid procrastination.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Ha. Good way to look at things, Alex. I like that. 🙂 And great tip. You should write a guest post about that for The Write Practice!

      Reply
  15. Susan Anderson

    This is very helpful. Thank You, Joe. Very excited for you and your family to go to Paris. My problem is focus. I tend to see an idea, start running with it, and then another idea appears. It’s like a canoe ride, where I’m rowing along, and then an interesting stream shows itself on the side, and I want to venture off along that branch. I guess your suggestion about short, realistic, doable deadlines is also the key here. If I think of it as a brook that I can navigate, put it at the beginning, paddle with the current, take in the sights and sounds of the waterway, and then dock at the finish, or at the harbor that leads home, maybe I can create…and finish.

    Reply
    • Beck Gambill

      I so identify Susan! I try to outline those interesting side streams that branch off and go back to the task at hand, hoping the inspiration will remain!

      Reply
      • Susan Anderson

        That is a good suggestion, Beck. Thank you so much. I guess that is the idea behind the little pocket notebook, I hear from many is the key to never having writer’s block and not losing ideas. If I’m honest, all those little streams are not far off of the larger body of water, anyhow.

        Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I can definitely relate, Susan. Here’s a provocative question: What if you could only write three of your ideas in your lifetime. Which would you choose? You only can work on those ideas, so you have to make the most of them. The truth is that we have limited amounts of time, and unless you choose, you won’t finish any of your brilliant ideas. Creativity is always paired with destruction. You can’t create unless you destroy all the other possibilities that might have been. So which ideas are you going to choose? You don’t have to commit now, but you do absolutely have to commit.

      Reply
      • Susan Anderson

        I don’t know why my picture isn’t showing up here, Joe, but oh well, here goes. Thanks for your provocative nudging. That is kind of easy, because I’m actually afraid that after the 2 ideas I have, I’ll be all out of ideas. The first one has been a memoir and has morphed into a book of personal essays. The second is a young adult novel. I am inspired by A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and a current author, Natasha Friend who wrote Lush, Bounce, and Perfect ( 3 different novels for teenage girls.) You are right though, I am feeling the pressure to make decisions and commit.

        Reply
  16. Alicia Rades

    Hey Joe, I think one of the reasons writers don’t finish their fiction projects is because they’re not in love with the story. I think you have to figure out who your characters are first and become friends with them or you’ll never want to hang out with them.

    I’m not sure what project to focus on for this practice…I have a good story idea in my head, but I’m still trying to figure out where exactly it goes and how the pieces fit. I don’t feel ready to set deadlines with it yet.

    Reply
    • Kevin Bowling

      Alicia, you’re absolutely right. I’m working on a piece myself, and one of the hardest things is actually feeling like I can really get into a character’s mind.

      Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Definitely, Alicia. Of course, what is love? A feeling or a decision. The nice thing about writing is that you’re in charge. You can choose to love what you’re working on or you can work on something until you love it. Sometimes it takes both to finish. I can’t tell you, though, how many times I freaking hated my writing projects. It was still important for me to finish them, and afterward, I was able to rekindle that admiration.

      Reply
    • Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux

      Julia Cameron has some really good things to say about writer’s block in both “The Artist’s Way” and “The Right to Write” that are true for me. Basically, the only time I don’t write is when I’m afraid. (Generally that I feel like I’m flinging myself over a cliff and it’s scary to trust that something will come out).

      Something that (for me) really helps keep those character-writer relationships alive and fun is to do some free writing (like Julia Cameron’s ‘morning pages’ practice): I’m not writing the STORY, I’m writing ABOUT it– writing questions, wondering aloud (in writing), poking around. I find that if I do that long enough without interrupting myself with judgements, I’ll see a path through the scary forest: something I can easily write about.

      Try it if it feels right to you.

      Reply
  17. themagicviolinist

    My short-term goal is to write every day, whether it be a blog post, a poem, or a paragraph of my book. 🙂 My long-term goal is to finish my NaNoWriMo novel by May, so I can get the Create Space proof before my coupon expires in June.

    Reply
    • Katie Hamer

      MV, I love your short-term goal. I’m defo going to follow your suggestions myself. My long-term goal is slightly different, as I’m planning my first NaNoWriMo this year!

      Reply
      • themagicviolinist

        Oh, the first NaNoWriMo can be incredibly nerve wracking, but it is so much fun! 🙂 Good luck!

        Reply
      • Dawn Atkin

        I did my first NaNoWriMo in November 2013. It was a fantastic motivator. I nearly completed my very first novel. Up to that point I’d kicked around writing personal reflections, private stories, poetry and prose ever since I was at primary school. I totally enjoyed the challenge. And I’m still motivated. It’s an incredible feeling when the story starts spilling its own tale. Magic happens! Go for it 🙂

        Reply
        • Katie Hamer

          Dawn, thanks for your words of encouragement. I’m very motivated by your successful NaNoWriMo, and glad to hear that it provided you with that extra focus on your writing. Hopefully it will do the same for me 🙂

          Reply
      • themagicviolinist

        Thanks, Joe! 🙂

        Reply
    • Dawn Atkin

      …sounds like we’re I the same predicament…love your short term goals…I’m inspired

      Reply
      • themagicviolinist

        Thank you! 🙂

        Reply
  18. Mirel

    Great post. Indeed, I find that deadlines are a great incentive to finishing projects. Right now my goal is to write at least 500 words a day in order to get my blog posts done on time, my novel finished, and to keep myself productive. I started working on my daily goal on January 1st, and so far so good. I’m really getting a lot more done. But never enough 🙁 …

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Never enough is healthy, Mirel. It means you still love it!

      Reply
      • Mirel

        What do you mean still? It passes for some?
        This is a lifetime love, pushed to the sidelines for far too long. I’m finally living my dream of writing, and yes, loving it!

        Reply
        • Joe Bunting

          Yes, I think so, or at least the breathless need for it. It’s sort of like being married for several years. Life is better and your relationship is (hopefully!) more satisfying, but you don’t have that giddy, painful need to see your spouse every moment that you did when you were first dating. You’ll get to a point, I think, where there won’t be much drama surrounding your writing. You’ll do it and it will be great and that will be fine.

          Reply
          • Mirel

            I dunno, the more time goes by the giddier I get, since the more time goes by the more real it becomes. What the heck, I’m enjoying it. I’ll take that for now 🙂

  19. Stella

    themagicviolinist, writing every day sounds like a wonderful short-term goal. I’ll definltely adopt that too. I like how flexible it is – I’m currently juggling two novels, one short story, a New Year’s resolution to take part in one writing competition a month and a (private) journal of my life – and this goal is broad enough to let me work on any of them, for any amount of time, for any amount of words, but still tangible enough to ensure I get something done. Thank you for the suggestion!

    Reply
  20. Rady

    Joe , you have literally mentioned how it feels to have lots of ideas and also having many unfinished writings /posts. The short deadlines trick is easy to employ and accomplish.Thank you for your enlightening post.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      Thanks Rady! Glad you liked it. 🙂

      Reply
  21. Joe Bunting

    Wow. You’re a very busy person! It sounds like the things you’re working on are really exciting, though. My suggestion is to focus on one of those creative projects at a time. You can still cheat a bit, but by focusing on one, you’ll feel more in control. And when you finish, you’ll be revved up to tackle the next one!

    Reply
  22. Dawn Atkin

    Yes – to small manageable goals. I’ve been a writer for years. I write in my day time job with relative ease because I know I have to get the job done! I just manage to get started and aim for small milestones and timed attention. When it comes to my personal passion to write I procrastinate with ease. Or I start writing something else rather than finish off a project. I’m currently, and for some ridiculous reason, avoiding the last couple of chapters of my first ever attempt at writing a novel.

    So thanks for the reminder…even one page at a time keeps me moving.

    Reply
  23. Winnie

    I worked to a schedule by writing for an hour before work. The momentum kept me going, and I finished the novel by the target date. (The stress of finishing 1000 words before the clock struck eight, and the curious looks over my shoulder from my co-workers – “What’re you doing? Oh that! – spurred me on.)
    That daily hammering away at he keyboard before the others started trooping into the office was my little deadline.
    At the end I reached the big deadline and had a 50 000 word novel to send to a publisher.
    It was never published, but that’s beside the point. I learnt a lot form my subsequent interaction with the Development Editor, who kindly pointed out the good bits as well as the bad and referred me to helpful articles on the web.

    Reply
  24. Katharine Marie

    My goal is to publish (including editing and so forth) by the end of the year. Shorter-term, I’m working to write daily, at least 5 days a week.

    Reply
  25. Shelina Valmond

    Great post Joe! I’m actually writing about this subject too. It seems like the deadlines that I stick to are the ones that are the most rewarding. I would add to this that, after accomplishing a medium to big goal, reward yourself. It gives you a little more motivation to keep plugging along.

    Reply
  26. Rachel Thompson

    To quote Yoda, ” Do or do not, there is no try.”

    Reply
    • Gary G Little

      Yes but there is a west Texas corollary; easier said than done. 🙂

      Reply
      • collie

        And then there is Henry Ford, who said, if you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re probably right.

        Reply
  27. Church Johnson

    I’m going to finish my Poetry/Short-Story book by August

    I will commit to editing and getting help on the editing process everyday till August

    Church Johnson

    Reply
  28. Colleen Risdahl-Hamilton

    My short term goal is to write daily for at least 15 minutes using the exercises on “The Write Practice”, or whatever moves me on a given day. My long term goal is to publish something – my book, a short story, an article or blog…this is evolving, I need to figure this piece out yet.

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      One small deadline at a time, Colleen. Thanks for reading and practicing!

      Reply
      • Colleen Risdahl-Hamilton

        Thanks, Joe! I have yet to make the 15 minute mark… working on that. 🙂

        Reply
  29. Forth'Wyn

    I’ve started posting my novel scene-by-scene on my blog, hoping to post every Monday evening (GMT) :S I tried it once before, but mental health issues got in the way so I stopped all the pressure and it took me two years to write one crappy first draft :/ But now I’m posting piece by piece as I go through the first rewrite. It’s just enough pressure to keep me motivated, but the pieces are short enough that I don’t panic and implode :3

    Reply
    • Joe Bunting

      I love that idea. How’s the feedback so far?

      Reply
      • Forth'Wyn

        Only family have commented on it so far, so it’s been very nice, but not at all constructive ^^; But I’ve only posted one scene since the hiatus, so there’s still time 🙂

        Reply
  30. Reagan

    I’m trying to start a schedule of working on one scene of my novel per day. I finished the first draft a few months ago, and now I’m working on perfecting it. I’ve also given myself a new commitment by starting a blog. I hope to write one article (whether for my blog or this one) a week. Deadlines can do miracles for procrastinators! Great article!

    “Whatever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men”
    (That’s a great motivator, too!)

    Reply
  31. Adventures in YA Publishing

    Definitely a big fan of finishing a draft through long-term and short-term goals. I started writing again a couple years back–and writing consistently–while juggling a day job by committing myself to specific goals. I’d pick a date roughly three months in the future, often rather definitive ones such as the day before I’d be leaving on vacation, or before the holiday season began. I wouldn’t want to leave a project unfinished so close to the end, so these kinds of dates were really good for motivating myself not to be late.

    Then, to help myself meet that large goal, I’d set small goals such as writing down 1000 words a day. Especially on early drafts of the projects, I’d keep myself going by telling myself that those words didn’t have to be GOOD words, but my manuscript needed to have grown by at least 1000 more every day. And these goals worked! I still write by specific word counts each day.

    –Sam Taylor, AYAP Intern

    Reply
  32. Gita Madhu

    I write every day (posts on Facebook group on Happiness, short paid reviews for another site, and some other such activities) but I have ten short stories which I need to edit and ready for publication. I’m just not doing that. I did try but editing is scary and sometimes makes a greater mess of what just needed a small tweak.

    Reply
    • Sheila B

      why is editing scary for you? I seem to avoid it, but haven’t examined why, other than I actually lose interest in my own work. Others say it’s good, but my ego says, not that good, start something better.

      Reply
      • Gita Madhu

        It’s been scary because, quite often, when I edit according to feedback, the work tends to suffer for it,becoming stilted or worse.
        However, when I re-read, after a decent gap of time, it appears to be better.
        I do know of at least one person who preserves all versions of his work and that is one good point to bear in mind.

        Reply
  33. Glynis Jolly

    What I’ve been doing is have weekly word deadlines. This way if I’ve having some difficulties one day, I can make up for them in another day. Right now my weekly deadly is 3000 words but I’ve just discovered ways to improve that. My big deadline isn’t until 3/28/2016 and I’ve over 28,000 words right now. My approximate ending word count is 80,000 although that can change during the course of the remaining time.

    Reply
  34. Jp Lundstrom

    I appreciate your remarks, and they are often helpful. I just don’t have time to respond to your “assignments.” No, I’m not a busy young wife with a career, four kids and a demanding home life. I did that already. I’m 71 years old, and I just decided to start writing stories last year, having given it up in high school. I have a lifetime’s worth of stories to write and finish in the twenty years or so I plan to remain on this earth. And when I finish with my writing career, I’ll undoubtedly be looking forward to the next one. So, I’m not taking any more courses, studying any more texts, or completing any more practice lessons. I have work to finish. JP

    Reply
    • collie

      Thank you, you give me hope.

      Reply
  35. Jesse

    I seriously thought it was only me, and not finishing what I started. I want to finish this one life quest before…my time on earth is through. Hopefully way before then, but these thoughts enter the mind. Who would finish it for me… and should I start writing my vision of the ending? Now realizing it is not only me in this universal struggle to write, it feels as if the elephant sitting on top of me has been pulled off. I can finaly inhale that life saving gasp of air. It’s alive!

    Reply
    • LilianGardner

      I feel the way you do and am pleased to know there are many others like me, struggling to finish a novel. Basically, it’s my fault if I don’t put in a daily dose of writing. I procrastinate, thinking that I can write ‘later’, but later turns into later and later and… You guessed right!
      I like the idea of setting a small deadline. I will apply this method from now on. A page a day, and two pages next day if I miss writing a page.

      Reply
  36. Rose Arrowsmith DeCoux

    Yes! I find that I still need some external pressure to write daily, so I have a google hangouts check-in with a few writers. We say what our goals are (currently: write 1,200/next chapter of “Lizzie + Bluebeard”). We hang up, write, and check in briefly at the end of the hour/90 minutes.

    I also post my WIP chapters as I write them: http://www.lizziebluebeard.wordpress.com

    I find that I can’t yet set a ‘big goal’ (when the book will be done) because that feels overwhelming and I get in my head too much. But I can roughly estimate that it will take about 50 days of writing– and that encourages me.

    Reply
  37. Tanya Marlow

    Ha! i’m one of those who’s struggling to finish. Small deadlines – the way forward.

    Reply
  38. Pamela Hodges

    Hey Joe,
    You wrote this over a year ago. And I need it today.
    Now to write.
    xo
    Pamela

    Reply
  39. Jack Strandburg

    Joe – that is great advice and something I can use with my current short story project. I have all or a good part of the details I need to write the book but need to organize and find out what information goes where, by what character, etc… Putting a deadline on what I need to do I think might help. I’m willing to give it a try! Thanks for your great advice as always.

    Reply
  40. Saunved Mutalik

    Thank you for this post.
    I’ve been feeling lost with my book for about eight years now, and I decided that instead of trying to do it all at once, and worrying about the future of the book, I would just focus on the present and try to make the most of it.
    I know my idea is good, my plot is good, and all I need is perseverance.
    After reading this post, I sat down and wrote around 600 words, and I realized that the problem wasn’t me not being able to focus. The problem was me not believing that I could focus.

    From today, I will try to write at least 500 words every day. A little bit of Math, and I arrive at the conclusion that I’ll have written 60,000 words in a month. Sounds too good to be true, but let’s see where my conviction lands me.

    Thanks again for providing inspiration, and I hope that I really do focus from now on.

    Reply
  41. Loveleen Mishra

    I will do the NaNoWriMo this year !! Till then, I will write 750words per day.

    Reply
  42. kimberly

    I write every day, and I edit. It is hard but it strengthens my skills up real good. I enjoy doing it and will be publishing my first book Seduction at the end of August. Can’t wait.

    Reply
  43. Megha Singh

    Every NaNoWriMo, I goes underground.

    Reply
  44. FritziGal

    Write a page a day. At the end of a year, you’ll have a good-sized book, even if you take all the major holidays off.

    Reply
  45. Katherine Rebekah

    Great tips! I’ve found them to be true.

    However, this week my deadline came back to bite me in the butt. I told myself I would launch my blog by today, but my editor was too busy to help me go over everything. The result was not bad, but I still had errors. Someone is going over it for me now and so I’m hoping to get those corrected asap!

    Posting once a day on a blog would be ideal, but it’s also rather frightening to think of! That’s a big commitment. I’ll consider it though…

    Reply
  46. LaCresha Lawson

    These are good points well made. I didn’t think this “deadline” thing was a problem! Thank you!

    Reply
  47. Niamh Jackson

    The small deadlines…. are key!

    Reply
  48. Debra johnson

    My over all deadline is to finish Nano this year. I am just over 41,000, and have 3 days including today to finish the 50,000. so this weekend doing just that.

    Reply
  49. Sarah Bourgeois

    For me, deadlines don’t do much because I have a tendency to abandon them. I think to myself, perhaps just one more day wouldn’t hurt. As you can clearly see, I am a procrastinator and I excel despite it. I have been working on my english Associates degree in college for some time now and find that I have barely enough time to write every day. Although, I do have papers and essays that must be done and they seem to come in threes a week for an english major but they are not the same as writing on different topics every day. As a result I see myself becoming more and more laid back when it comes tomorrow and sometimes even have the “Due tomorrow, do tomorrow” attitude when it comes to homework. I think that fixing this problem will help me become, not only a better writer, but also a better student.

    Reply
  50. Sarkis Antikajian

    There are writers who have no problem writing page after page with a fountain pen and not cross out a word. I see a few of them at Starbucks. For me, I agonize over every word or sentence I write even if it is a comment such as this. If I were to write long hand I would, most likely, have every other word crossed out. So writing a page for me is not that easy. Also, I understand that constraint in choosing an unfamiliar subject that the novice writer may not be particularly interested in is also an important exercise in the learning how-to-write process (such as the designated subjects in the current Practice Writing Contest).

    Reply
    • WritingBoy

      It sounds like you are not clear on what it is you want to write. It also sounds like you are engaged in a 24/7 verbal argument in your head about all the crapola and useless details that have nothing to do with writing.

      If you want to write. Write! But to go on about the ins and outs of a ducks bum is fairly boring.

      You know the problem. Focus on the solution…not the freaking problem!

      Reply
    • Sheila B

      One can change one’s process. I took a great course in which I learned to do write in different phases.
      1. Even if I knew the whole story/had an outline, I was to write a practically stream of consciousness rough draft; get the content down, the story out there on paper, without thinking what the best way or best words to use.
      2. review and use better words, put more meat on the characters, reveal more through dialogue and action, fewer words when able, more action packed words, fewer gerunds, delete clichés and adverbs which are indicators we are telling rather than showing; during this phase ask if it needs more or less or rearrangements, a more interesting hook, even a different ending. maybe even change person, or tense.
      3.reveiw and edit again for typos, misspellings , double words, errant grammar and punctuation.
      4. have 2 or 3 people read it and give me feedback, for a fresh look at content and copy edits I might have missed, and then fix what they point out are problems.
      As for constraints in terms of topics, this is creative writing…anyone can take a theme or subject and do something with it, make it ones own, find a viewpoint of interest. And in the case of 15 practice minutes, why not write for 15 min, based on the assignment, post what you wrote, give others feedback, absorb feedback given.

      Reply
  51. James Wright

    Is there an equal amount of people struggling or focusing on starting their novel?

    Reply
  52. Valerie Runyan

    The idea of small deadlines and a dose of good stress is exactly what I was looking for as far as an answer as to why I have so many partially finished pieces laying around. Frankly I thought I was just a sprinter and saw deadlines as a marathon and I would just run out of steam way before I reached the finish line. Thank You for this post!

    Reply
  53. Chad Collins

    Thank you so much about the advice on finishing a book. I just started my book on my life called the falling star. I’m starting off blogging then transfer it to a book.

    Reply
  54. maliha khan

    I do not have words to praise the sunsets…SubhanAllah they are so beautiful…More of peace and less of noise. Sunset is my Favourite colour <3 All i can say is it is one of the best creations of The Almighty 🙂
    As every end has a new beginning there comes a beautiful Sunrise after every sunset.
    Sunsets are proof that endings can often be beautiful too 🙂 🙂

    Reply
  55. Drakpa Donyi

    If you did your homework before starting your proyect you shouldn’t have any problem to finish it unless you change your planned course due to new research or a genuinely good new idea, if you are about to finish, just to know how close you are should be enough to steam up your work, unless you have a mental problem regarding goal acheaving or else

    Reply
  56. Elyza Rodriguez

    My short-term goal is 1000 words a day of my YA novel. I have over 25000 words done. My reader’s comments inspire me to continue.

    Reply
  57. Oladipo Gbemisola

    Thanks for your advice of short deadlines

    Reply
  58. Sheila B

    I have to limit my writing to just 15 or 30 min/day otherwise I become obsessive and still don’t finish because the next day and maybe even for weeks I am repressive and don’t write at all because I have, having spent way to much time on my writing when I have other responsibilities, like sleep and a job and housework and bill paying

    Reply
  59. Sheila B

    I did a step in finish today! I posted my Spring Contest story. 30 min later I decided to change the last paragraph, but I have time to make those changes still.

    Reply
  60. Carol Kanthan

    Hello everyone, I am just putting the finishing touches on my book, hurray! Clap, clap, clap, cheer and bow. It took me almost a year.

    Reply
  61. LaCresha Lawson

    Thank you. Stress as I learned can help get things going. Be more focused to get things done. Lots of stress in my life at times,but, I don’t want or need too much to not be able to move forward. Just enough.

    Reply
  62. Jo

    I’m going to finish my novel by writing two pages a day, six days a week. My target deadline is June. No more procrastination. Now is the time for me to end this story.

    Reply
  63. collie

    I am delighted to read this and see that I have been doing it. I gave myself the task of a page a day when I started writing. It got me my first book written. Now I am about half way through my second with the same philosophy. I write minimum two pages a day. There is a reason beyond the small deadline. I feel my way slowly through the story. I have a broad pitch, and loose structure. But the story is writing itself. Sometimes I get stuck in unpleasant emotional pieces. Sometimes I just don’t know where to go next. Taking it two pages a day really helps to find answers without pressure. However, it’s suppose to be finished and had it’s first re write by end of July.. so I have as of today tried to set myself a goal of 10 pages a day. It’s very tiring. I find my creative brain tires me out quickly.

    Reply
  64. Ariel Benjamin

    I’m good at getting full-circle and making it to the ending, but where I slow down is making connections and smoothing out my book. I generally write in bursts and segments. Sometimes one segment doesn’t easily connect to the other, but in the grand scheme of the book they all work together. How do you deal with polishing after making it to that first finish line? Is that just a daily commitment too? So an example for me would be: today, I’m going to finish the transition between scene 4 and 5 in chapter ten…? Does anyone else share this struggle and know how to conquer it? Maybe the problem is not adding content but knowing what to cut.

    Reply
    • Stella

      I write in bursts too! My ‘first draft’ usually consists of scattered key scenes in non-chronological order, and I have to go back and put everything in the right sequence, and figure out how to get from A to B. What I’ve found effective is to re-write in strictly chronological order. I find this helps me immerse myself in the characters, and sometimes a scene transition that didn’t occur to me before just pops up, because in the characters’ shoes I can see more clearly what happens next.

      Don’t know if this describes your situation, but hope this helps!

      Reply
      • Ariel Benjamin

        Wow Stella, that is seriously really helpful! It’s such a relief to read the description of your writing process because it sounds exactly the same. Thank you so much for responding to this. I never considered re-writing it all together…I will definitely start doing this. So excited!

        Reply
        • Stella

          I’m so glad it helped! Haha. Just thought of another analogy, I just returned from a family holiday to Perth. Pre-trip planning mostly consisted of looking at guides listing star attractions and making a shortlist, but of course guides don’t tell you in what order to visit the attractions or how long it takes to get from one to the other.

          But once we were on the ground, we could see how it made more sense to do them in a certain order. Or to drop certain places from our shortlist, or add new places of interest we hadn’t discovered before. Or even if we really wanted to go to Shortlisted Place X but it was very out of the way, we’d find a way to make it work.

          Random analogy that just popped into my mind. Anyway, happy writing! Look forward to reading your work.

          Reply
  65. EmFairley

    This is great, Joe, thank you! I’ve been hoping to begin the next/ final edit of my WIP for quite some time now. But, thanks in part to another book launching, I’ve got gotten started on it yet. That said, after reading this, I’m noting everything needing to be done before hand and starting to set deadlines for them

    Reply
  66. Sarojini Pattayat

    Your inspiring words are enough to strengthen our wings.
    Thanks a lot

    Reply
  67. Stella

    My short-term writing goal is to write for 15 minutes on The Write Practice every day. I started only earlier this month and already I’m seeing results. I realise one thing about us perfectionists is the need to make every piece of writing good, and it was killing me. I would rather take a month to make one story perfect, than to finish 7-8 so-so stories. But at this stage of my journey, I really need to do 7-8 so-so stories to get used to the idea that it’s okay to publish substandard work. The point is just to WRITE.

    I also have two short stories I want to finish by this week. I’ve given myself two days to finish each – today and tomorrow for the first, a break on Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday for the second. It’s crazy, given that both of them are basically blank pages – I have vague plot ideas but not even a first draft yet. Ever heard of the principle ‘work expands to fill the time available’? I’m banking on the opposite. That if I give myself only two days to finish each story, they’ll compress to fit within my available time. Kind of like how nobody actually spends the whole term on a ‘term paper’.

    I don’t know about longer-term deadlines. Eg planning what I want to achieve in the next six months or year. My worry about committing to a routine for so long is that it might start to feel stale, like I’m just going through the motions. I’m still trying to find that balance between using the power of habits to get writing, and keeping things fresh and spontaneous. Anyone have any tips to share?

    Reply
  68. Prince Ronnie

    Hey, this has been my achilles heel for a long time. In fact, I do not only fail to finish my book but also to start it. Thank you so much for this advice. It has helped a great deal

    Reply
  69. Anindita

    This is exactly my problem. I have two half finished novels, stuck at crucial situations because I cannot decide the next course of action. I have too many ideas. My husband read them and told me there is good stuff buried under a pile of crap. I am already frustrated. I just signed up for your waiting list.

    Reply
  70. Pat Garcia

    This is so true. Writing a book is a huge project, but it is easier when we set deadlines. I call them milestones and take each milestone build upon the other. I also like the point about telling someone about your deadlines. There are times when I work on my book or my short stories because I feel accountable for what I say.
    Thanks for a great article.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Patricia

    Reply
  71. Garden Lady

    Sheila, I am surprised like you about how old these post are. But still It seems we can learn from other’s experiences. I. too, get caught up with answering emails and messages on Joan Dempsey’s ReviseWithConfidence closed site for authors. I have thought. sometimes ,that how well I write those comments is practice for my “real” writing. Even here, I just made a correction. I don’t want to be known for sloppy writing, only my best. As for finishing projects? I’ve been bad with that my whole life. When I was diagnosed with mild A.D.D. in 1994 at age 60, I looked back and wondered if that was why I had not finished what I had started before starting another. Now I believe it is because I have a very active creative mind. At some point doing something the pleasure is not much, so my thought wander to something else to do more exciting. Some days when I have trouble focusing, I joke that it is an A.D.D day, Then put in more effort to complete something. The longest time I have ever spent on any one project, outside of achieving a college education, is writing my memoir about recovering after a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. I began in 2010, had two operations since then. I have a particular reason for forging on. I believe the content will beneficial for other survivors. The effects of my injury are subtle now and called “hidden disabilities”.

    Reply
  72. Emily Faithe

    yep… well I am currently working on a short story for Camp Nanowrimo and it has to be done by July 31… so not much longer! My goal is 10,000 words and I have 7 planned scenes. I want to write one scene a day. Today’s is written and just over 1,100 words. I’m saving it to post on Friday as my challenge piece.

    Reply
  73. Kendall

    I do struggle to finish most writing projects I have, except when it is a poem. Poems are a great burst of energy for me. As for a short story or an essay, I find that I sometimes get board and have to come back at a later time. Perhaps it’s because I’m unsure of why I’m writing it in the first place.

    Reply
  74. Erik Bressler

    I have struggled with finishing novels in the past and I even had great doubt at times about whether I was capable of finishing a Law Review Article I was writing. However, I managed to complete my Law Review Article by doing just as this article recommends, by setting smaller deadlines which led me to a larger deadline. This is a practice that I will be implementing on my next Novel attempt.

    My goal is to work on my Novel for one to two hours seven days a week until it is completed. This is a realistic goal after taking into consideration all of my current day to day obligations.

    Reply
  75. Ellen Burns

    Self-doubt is my constant enemy. Am I good enough? Is the work good enough? Sometimes, I’d just like to hurl my laptop out the window.

    I’ve completed one novel and was working on the sequel. In the process, I’ve stalled a bit. There’s pain in it, and a lot of it. I have to be in a certain mood in order to really get it down. It’s fuel for me.

    I decided to drop the project in August (for now). I went on to write and self-publish three novelettes and I’m halfway into a novella which I hope to complete during NaNoWriMo. I’ve been experimenting with different genre and just writing for fun. I don’t expect to get rich from it.

    Right now, I’m writing for myself and having a really good time doing it. I’m saving the pain for another day.

    Reply
  76. Ailsa Abraham

    I find that knowing the ending helps – I’m now working towards THAT. Also having promised to my publisher and having a definite deadline kicks my bum a lot.
    I’m also fortunate to have a study I made deliberately for writing and nothing else. It’s a no-go area to the rest of the house and once sat down to write there are no distractions.

    Reply
  77. Leanne

    This is something I definitely need to try out! Thanks for the tip! 🙂

    Reply
  78. Michael Vorsaa Solander

    I’ve never thought of stress that way. But I recognize it from work. When I’m super-busy i deliver fast and the solutions and results are right on target. When not so busy, I tend to get lazy. I guess the issue is finding the right level of stress. I failed at this at work, and I’m struggling to overcome the implications it had on my life.
    So, is taking up writing a good thing to do at this point in my life? YES. It’s my dream and doing this makes me a happier and better person. So I’ll take today’s Practice. These are my deadlines:
    The project is a short story (max. 2,500 words):

    – Finish character descriptions : tomorrow
    – Describe 3 scenes in this story : finished friday
    – Describe another 2 scenes : Finished 2 days after Christmas
    – Finish plot : the day after
    – Write 1,000 words : Before New Years eve
    – Write another 1,000 words : before the 6th of January
    1ST DRAFT FINISHED : 8th of January
    – Distribute draft for commenting : 9th of January
    – Input to go into the story selected : 13th of January
    2ND DRAFT FINISHED : 15th of January
    STORY EDITED FOR PUBLICATION : 18th of January
    STORY PUBLISHED : 20th of January

    Feel free to comment on this. That way I can improve it for my next project (notice that I haven’t included a ‘change deadline’ in the list above ;-))

    Reply
    • At Home With Grandma

      Very ambitious! I hope I can reach this point in my writing….

      Reply
      • Michael Vorsaa Solander

        This is the first time I’ve tried to plan for a story with deadlines, so I was a little curious as to how it would turn out.
        Actually – I’m ahead of schedule. I’ve written about 2,600 words and I’m ready to edit/cut/change into a 1st draft.
        What helped me get this far already (during Christmas and all) – is that I actually planned in what order I should do certain tasks and stuck to it.
        Try that first – and when that works – add deadlines.

        Reply
  79. Ruth Berman

    This hits home with me as well. I started writing a book many years ago and got discouraged because I didn’t know ‘how’ to do it. I have a lot of material but no organization. This past September, I decided to take a writing class and find out what I didn’t know and do it. I was very productive and wrote two short stories.

    Months later, I found Joe and The Write Practice online and entered my first writing contest with one of the short stories I’d written in writing class. I loved the experience and will repeat it again–even if I don’t win.

    Thanks, Joe. The Write Practice is working and is very helpful (and encouraging) to those who just don’t know what to do or how to do it.

    Reply
  80. At Home With Grandma

    I’ve journaled, blogged, doodled, written poems, etc, etc etc in the past, but it never lasts, now I know why! I like the part where you say, “Instead, you need bite-size deadlines, daily deadlines, deadlines you can finish in an hour or spend five hours on if the mood strikes. Small deadlines are harder to abandon, easier to keep, and don’t crush your spirit by the enormity of the task.”

    Since I’m just starting writing, (again) I’m going to take your original challenge to write 15 minutes a day for the next year. I’m working on a book, blogging the book, 1 chapter at a time, and using this Write Practice as a motivator. Thank you for that!

    Reply
  81. Zev Landau

    How about s t a r t i n g the book?

    Reply
  82. Ebenezer Iwari-Fiberesima

    It is an encouraging piece. I love it

    Reply
  83. Azure Darkness Yugi

    I’m definitely going to take this advice to heart. Very much needed.

    Reply

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  1. How to Finish Your Writing Projects (Even When ... - […] Nearly every day, I hear from writers who are struggling to finish their stories. They tell me they have…
  2. How to Finish Your Writing Projects (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It) | Eliz's Wonderful World - […] See on thewritepractice.com […]
  3. Monday Must-Reads [1/27/14] - […] How to Finish Your Writing Projects (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It) […]
  4. Balancing life and writing | E.S.Wesley - […] How to Finish Your Writing Projects (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It) […]
  5. First Draft? Check. | Pick Up Your Pen - […] Bunting has a great article about finishing writing projects through deadlines here at The Write Practice if you’re interested.…
  6. How to Finish Your Writing Projects (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It) | A Writer Inspired - […] via How to Finish Your Writing Projects (Even When You Don’t Feel Like It). […]
  7. Why You Can’t Finish Writing Your Book - […] a poll we conducted, seventy-two percent of people told us they struggle finishing the writing projects they […]
  8. 72% of Writers Struggle With THIS - I'm a Writer! - […] Source: 72% of Writers Struggle With THIS […]
  9. 72% of Writers Struggle With THIS! | zen writes - […] Read On: TheWritePractice […]
  10. Story Ideas: How to Beat Shiny-New-Idea Syndrome and Actually Finish Your Projects - […] all have files full of unfinished projects and story ideas spread across notebooks and online platforms. Why do ideas…

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