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How to NOT Finish Your Novel...Ever

Updated on September 8, 2012

Step #1

Start your novel

It could be a beautiful opening sentence, some jotted notes on a page, 50 pages of great work or even a cluster of nagging thoughts in the back of your mind that just won’t go away. Its physical manifestation is immaterial because to you this is already your great novel, a novel that someday you will finish.

Step #2

Admire your work

Isn’t that first line just the sexiest damn first line you’ve ever seen? I’ll bet it is. Sit back for a minute and let your genius settle in. You’re going to need a lot more of it to finish this masterpiece. Keep those expectations sky high to keep the pressure on.

Step #3


Roll these words and phrases around on your tongue and in your mind until they become part of any and every conversation you have about your novel:

  • Someday
  • Eventually
  • Great novel
  • Masterpiece
  • Free time
  • One day
  • When things slow down

Step #4

Writer’s block

Now we’re getting into the good stuff. The daily bread of unaccomplished novelists; the dreaded “block”. Feeling a little tired today? Hard day at work? Kids driving you nuts? It’s hard to write when life is going on all around you and that barrier you feel when you pick up your pen, that is writer’s block. No use fighting it, it wins every time. Just put the pen down and relax, you’ll get over it eventually. Make a promise to yourself to get back to it later when you have some free time.

Step #5

Get busy

There really aren’t enough hours in the day. At least not today there aren’t; maybe tomorrow there will be, or next month, but more likely next year. If you can’t find the time to write right now don’t sweat it, eventually things will slow down and you’ll have plenty of time to dedicate to your masterpiece.

Step #6

Goal setting

Frustrated at how little you’ve gotten done on your novel? A great way to add extra pressure and guilt yourself into work is to set monstrously large and completely unattainable goals (imagine you just survived a huge lay off at work and had 5 other employees workloads dumped on you). Then stop eating, sleeping or bathing in order to achieve those goals. You’ll get at least a couple days work in before you burn out completely but it’s more than you were getting done before right?

Step #7

Keep it secret, keep it safe

Don’t tell anybody about your secret masterpiece, it’ll just mean they’ll be badgering you about when it’s done and when they get to read it. You’re more likely to hold on to your motivation if it’s a secret project, plus, if you decide to take a nice long hiatus (to refresh your creativity) you won’t have to answer any awkward questions about progress.

Step #8

What were you thinking?

Okay…so maybe it’s been a while since you last wrote anything. But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe all this time away from your masterpiece has helped you to realize what a sh*t writer you were in the first place. I mean, who actually thought that you could start and finish a novel? Your first line was great but every line after it blows. Clearly you’re no Shakespeare and every one knows great writers are born not made. May as well just give up and be done with it…

…or at least give it a few months….to let the story fully mature in your mind…after all you’ll have so much free time then.


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    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 5 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      No time like the present. Remember that you will always have the same number of hours in a day. It's up to you how you spend them!

    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      I'm already very good at not finishing. I'm a pro!

      Bleh. :(

      I did start using a good book for writing your novel in 90 days, but that was back in January. I got stuck in the beginning on one of the writing exercises where you look into your past and write about it. Looking back is never a good thing, for me. Someday... I will get back to that book and just skip that first chapter.

    • ar.colton profile image

      Mikal Smith 5 years ago from Vancouver, B.C.

      Nope moonfairy, revisitinh my past! Glad you enjoyed. Now get writing :)

      Thanks Leni, glad I was on the ball!

    • leni sands profile image

      Leni Sands 5 years ago from UK

      Very useful and interesting that I have been thinking about writing myself but now needed worry about that because you beat me to it - well done!

    • moonfairy profile image

      moonfairy 5 years ago

      hmmmmmmmm...were you snooping around in my office files?? lol. fun hub....I'm feeling so guilty right now!!!!!!!!!!! voted up and funny.