Did you know 97% of books started are never finished? I am fortunate to have finished and published one book, but I’m beginning to worry that the next may never be done. Fortunately I met up again with one of my literary heroes at Springfed Arts Lost Lake Writer’s Retreat in October, who gave me the encouragement and inspiration I needed.
Years ago, Jacquelyn Mitchard critiqued the opening of my novel, In the Context of Love, when it was an early draft. Her advice was just what a writer needed. I took her praise to heart and kept writing. Prior to publication, she graciously gave me a blurb. When my publisher updated the cover to show the book’s finalist awards, her quote was featured on the front. I consider her an intregal part of this book.
And now that I’m struggling with book two, hearing her talk “Finish the Book” was immensely helpful.
Here are my notes from Jacquelyn’s workshop:
The primary reasons writers don’t finish:
It’s not the right project. The sooner that you recognize it, you can cut your losses and move on
Maybe you haven’t done the research — you haven’t answered the questions
You’re trying to “kitchen sink” it. You’ve got too much going on. Go deep into the vein, rather than trying to stretch it out.
You’re not emotionally ready to write this particular story.
It’s fear. Fear is behind everything that doesn’t work out.
Working under pressure doesn’t always get results. What else is going on in your life? An exhausted writer doesn’t create beautiful stories.
Strategies to finish the book:
Jacquelyn believes in planning. She quoted “Writing is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” However, she said, you wouldn’t drive cross country without a map or GPS, so screw that. Plan.
You have to break your routine and give up some of the things you love in order to write. Build a tolerable routine of writing into your life.
Think about how wonderful it’s going to feel when you finish a writing goal.
Beware of “below the line” thinking, which is blaming extraneous factors on your failure.
What you have in mind to do–writing a book–is worthy. Writing is a worthy goal. To write something that will reach someone else is not selfish.
Make it an urgent priority.
Write when it’s easy and when it’s hard. Write when it’s hard.
Have faith that you won’t give up.
Write when it’s hard.
Write when it’s hard.
And yes, there are times even a #1 NY Times best selling author like Jacquelyn has a hard time, too. Read her essay on writing titled A Difficult Birth (book-wise)
By the way, if you haven’t read her latest book, Two If By Sea, “an epic story of courage and devotion that spans three continents and the entire map of the human heart,” I highly recommend it!
“A gripping family saga buoyed by hope and second chances…Racing to its conclusion, Mitchard’s sweeping prose suspends natural boundaries. She forges a fresh sense of faith despite incredible odds.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“Bestselling author Jacquelyn Mitchard (The Deep End of the Ocean) balances love and loss in her new novel, Two If By Sea. It is a sweet story of one man’s road to recovery and the challenges he faces to protect the people he loves…It’s a universal adventure full of emotion and quite a bit of intrigue.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
“Suspenseful, otherworldly and nearly impossible to put down.” (People)
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell her truth without shame.
2017 New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist