Writing Tips Wednesday: 5 tips to keep you motivated to finish that first draft

Wednesday Writing Tips

Do you ever find yourself drifting? Not motivated to finish that draft? Get half way through and want to start on a new project?

Well, you’re not alone. A lot of writers feel this way. I know I feel it at times. I can’t tell you how many first drafts I started and then abandoned. How many unfinished manuscripts liter my closet and hard drive.

Now, whether this is from distraction, or the stories I abandoned not being big enough to carry all the way through to the end, one thing is for sure, I find new motivation every day.

As a writer you have to discipline yourself to keep going. Finish it. No matter if you think it’s crap.

I know I found this difficult at first. So find motivation to keep going.

Here are five tips to keep you motivated to finish that first draft:

  1. Give yourself a deadline

A reasonable one of course. If you work a day job and only have 2 hours to write a night, don’t set a deadline to finish a full length manuscript in a week, two weeks, etc. By doing that, you will only disappoint yourself and lose your motivation to keep going.

So give yourself a reasonable deadline. If you start on a Monday, give yourself a week to two weeks for research, a week for character bios, a week for your outline (if you outline), a chapter a day or every two days, and so on.

You could break it down in several ways, whichever works best for you. But, it’s a good idea to have one big deadline, with other smaller deadlines along the way.

For example, let’s hypothetically say I am starting a new project today, July 13, 2016. All I have is my idea so far. I want to finish it by the end of the year to have it go into revisions by January 1, 2017. Great, there is my deadline to finish my first draft. (This may seem like a lot of time, but this is just for informational purposes.)

Main Deadline:

December 31, 2016 – Completed First draft.

Smaller Deadlines:

July 31, 2016 – Research completed (Setting, Plot, Theme, etc.)

August 15, 2016 – Character Bios Completed (I know my Protagonist, I know my Antagonist, I know my side characters. I have their voice, dialect, back ground, and know how they fit into the world I will create from the research I completed.)

August 29, 2016 – Outline completed, if you outline. (I know the basic chapter outlines, scenes, how it will end. Can spot some inconsistencies in the story, I know where it’s going, and I’m ready to begin.)

November 1, 2016 – Reach half way point of the first draft. 9 weeks from when I started.

The next deadline after that is to finish. You can see how breaking it down and giving yourself deadlines can help. You have a goal, something smaller you’re working towards, other than to just finish. You have stepping stones.

2. ┬áDon’t second guess yourself.

When you’re writing, self-doubt can rear its ugly head. This is normal. But don’t let it stop you in your tracks. remind yourself that every writer feels this way. Remind yourself how the first draft is not the final draft. The point of the first draft is to get the story down. It is much easier to edit and revise a story when there is a completed story.

If you find yourself stopping because you don’t feel like your writing is up to par, or the story is all that great, know that you are not alone. Reach out to other writers, take a writing course if it makes you feel better, visit blogs of writers who discuss the difficulties of writing. But then get back to it. Don’t lament on word choices or sentence structure, those can all be changed in revisions and editing. Don’t compare it to what you’re reading. Not yet. Just get it down.

3. Write Everyday. Every. Day.

The only way to finish is to write. No matter if you write one sentence, or an entire chapter. Write everyday. To grow as a writer, you have to write. So do it. No excuses.

4. Set a writing schedule, and guard it with your life.

You have no idea how helpful this can be. When you schedule yourself an exact time to be writing, you no longer allow yourself the excuse of “I just don’t have the time today.” No, you do. Schedule other things around your writing block.

If you can only write at night because you’re busy during the day, great, set that time. Do not let anything else creep into this time. If you only have time at 5a.m., great, set your alarm and get up and write.

This writing block is sacred. Keep it safe, guard it, protect it, and don’t let anyone or anything (barring an emergency) interrupt it.

5. Find motivation in your peers.

Become friends with other writers. Writers who have finished a Novel. When you find yourself slumping, slacking, or just down right unmotivated to keep writing, reach out. Ask them what they did to keep themselves going. Read through twitter (I’m not kidding, you’d be surprised some of the motivation and support you can get there).

So there you have it, 5 tips to stay motivated to finish your first draft. These have helped me to stay motivated and go from unfinished manuscripts, to one full completed and one in progress.

How about you? Do you have additional tips to add to the list? Let’s hear them!