Those are probably two of the most satisfying words you will ever write.
(Unless you’re like me and you’re writing a trilogy, and ‘the end’ doesn’t come until book 3.)
But as I’m sure all of you know, ‘The End’ doesn’t come easily. Before the end, there is a beginning. (And a whole lot in-between.)
Yesterday, I finished the rough draft of book 2 of the Meant to Rise Trilogy, wherepon I commenced to dance like a wild hooligan around the room. Yes, I know. Haha. The joy is real, people.
That wild dance around the room was a result of five months of hard work, tears, insane laughter, and much chocolate. (Nibble on something if you’re not feeling productive. It helps.)
But how to get past the hard work? I know you guys dream. Every writer does. We dream about the last sentence of our novel. We dream about what we will do when we finally finish. We dream about calling our friends and screaming “I’M A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!!” We dream about walking into Barnes & Noble and seeing our book on the shelf, and smelling it’s pages.
Not every writer will see these things happen. But the only way they ever will is if we keep going.
Here’s some things I do to keep myself going.
1: Set goals, and execute them.
Be your own taskmaster, guys. I promise it will pay off. I have a good friend, also a teen author, who at one point forced herself to write 1,000 words a day. There are sooooo many benefits to this. Consistency is one. Write every day, and writing will seem like more of a routine than a chore. My best advice to you is to choose a set number of words: however many you feel comfortable keeping up with. If you can’t write every day, write every other day. Write once a week. Do whatever your schedule allows, but try to do it consistently. Sometimes you’ll only have enough time to write a paragraph a day; that’s fine. Some of you write 5,000 words a day; that’s also fine (but you’re probably in the minority of teen writers. Good job. Keep it up.)
2: Dream… but not too much.
I got seriously carried away while writing book 1 of my trilogy. I was so excited to be finished and get my book out there that I started looking for agents before I was finished with the first draft. No one of my better moments. Be logical, kids. Don’t jump off the cliff before you can swim. Don’t eat a cockroach before you kill it. (umm…where did that come from, brain?)
Writing is a process, and it’s meant to be that way. Dream, but don’t move too quickly. Research so you know what you’re getting into–but don’t get into it before you’re ready.
3: Get yourself a cowboy.
Take a moment and close your eyes (after you read the instructions.) Imagine a cowboy riding through the deserts of Nevada. Behind him, a huge dust storm is approaching. Said cowboy is clothed in leather pant thingies. He sits on a horse named Bertha. Together, they tear through the ground like a lawnmower tears grass. Every time Bertha slows down, said cowboy spurs her on. Because of this, they reach the ranch in safety, untouched by the storm.
This is what you need. You are Bertha. You need a cowboy to spur you on to victory.
Find a partner who will keep you writing. For me, this person is my little sister. She loved the first book so much that she asked almost every day when I would be done with the second one.
Maybe this is a teacher. I also had one of these. The first book in my trilogy started as a composition assignment: “Write a creative paragraph, using metaphors, about the weather today.” And BOOM. I was gone. The first eight chapters of my book were scrawled in school journals. Since it was a “school assignment,” I worked on it in my free time at school. Finally, my teacher challenged me to finish it up over the weekend. I went home on Friday and came back on Monday with over twenty more handwritten pages, (a feat for a twelve-year-old), but I didn’t finish it. My teacher pushed me to keep writing, and now I have two 80k+ word novels to show for it.
4: Plot awesome stuff to look forward to.
Some people write an outline for every chapter, or even every page of their book. Some people are so mentally coordinated that they can write an amazing book without ever making an outline. Some people have random notes scrawled on post-its all over the wall. (This is me.)
Whatever you do, make sure you have something at the end of your novel to look forward to.
We all have things we like to write about most. We all have favorite scenes. These usually aren’t every other paragraph; they’re more likely scattered through the book like little gold mines. Here’s my advice: don’t skip to the gold mines.
Some people can operate well this way, but I’ve found it infinitely more helpful to work up to the gold mines. People enter competitions and do a whole lot of work to achieve a prize. This is how writing works. Have a scene you’re really excited to write in your head, and keep writing until you get there. The more excited you are to get to a certain scene, the more incentive you have to keep going. This is one of your best defenses against writer’s block, folks. Try to use it.
5: Keep going.
This is obviously implied by the rest of my tips, but I’ll say it again. KEEP GOING. Don’t stop because you think your work is not as good as the book you read last week. Those feelings are why what you’re working on is called a rough draft. Fix it later. Find beta readers and editors to help you polish it. Chances are, the book you wish was yours was just as rusty before it was refined into the shiny object on the trophy shelf.
You can do it. I know you can. The reward at the end is great–and the process you’ll go through to get there will change you for the better.
What are other methods you all use to keep going? Have you already written the words “the end”? Are you almost there, or half way? Are you persevering, wherever you are in the process?
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