How to Write a Book: 3 Tricks to Finishing Your Novel

More than clearance Halloween candy, more than the promise of turkey and pumpkin pie, and even more than the joy of sweater weather . . . November is about writing.

Set a goal

Have you thought about writing a book? As far as bucket list goals go, it’s a pretty popular one. But where to find the time or the energy? Or even the pressure of a deadline? NaNoWriMo to the rescue! National Novel Writing Month is a free global community program that encourages you to set a goal and stick to it: write 50,000 words in the 30 days November has to offer.

I’ve attempted it several times but have only “won” once; I have high hopes of doing it again this year! Here are my three favorite tactics for making it across that word-count finish line:

Put it on your calendar

This can seem like both the easiest and the hardest thing to do. Time can feel scarce, but there’s definitely something to be said for making it a priority by including it alongside other must-dos (like work, childcare, or feeding yourself). Whole afternoons can be great when you can find them, but don’t forget to look for those 15-, 30-, or 60-minute chunks too.

Find a buddy

Nothing keeps you accountable like a friend who’s in the same boat. Get a buddy to sign up with you or find fellow writers who are participating (there are tons of great communities, both online and in real life). Check in with each other, meet up for a write-in. And when you find yourself getting stuck, remember that others are out there chugging along on their manuscripts too.

Just keep going

Even if you’re certain that what you’re putting on-screen is garbage, even if you’re sure it’s not propelling your plot, momentum counts for a lot. Whether you take advantage of sprint exercises at a community write-in event or through the @NaNoWordSprints Twitter account—of if you’re just forcing yourself to keep those fingers moving—that energy often allows you to find some clue, angle, or thread that will inspire you sooner or later to really move forward in earnest.

You can always edit later, so keep stringing those words together. Before long, you have a thousand words and then fifty thousand words. Now you’ve got a manuscript!

Signed up? Let me know how you’re doing!

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