What to do when you can't finish writing a full-length book

It's not easy to write a book. It takes incredible determination to type 80,000 words into a manuscript. A true labour of love, your book is an expression of your thoughts and creativity, put out there into the world for everyone to see. So what are you to do when you really want to finish writing your book but you just can't seem to get to the finish line?

I've talk to many authors who have great ideas and ambition for writing a novel, but they just can't finish writing their book. Sometimes it's a lack of confidence, which can be overcome with time and more writing practice, but often times it's because they become stuck at some point in the writing process. And from that point on, every time they go to sit down in front of their computer to write, it becomes a chore and they risk loosing interest altogether. But it doesn't have to be this way. Here are some options to consider to jump start your writing project all over again. 

Hire a developmental or structural editor 

One way to get unstuck in your writing process is to hire a structural editor who will read what you've written, assess the plot and characters, review the order of the chapters, and really think about how to give your book a strong beginning, middle, and end. This particular type of editing requires someone who can see the forest for the trees, pointing out the strong and weak points of your manuscript, helping to reinvigorate your entire writing process. 

Write a short story instead

Writing short stories is an art form in and of itself, and it just might be your ticket to actually finishing what you started. If you are having trouble turning 20,000 words into a full-length novel, maybe it was never meant to be. Maybe you are really writing a short story, which also has a beginning, middle, and end, just with a shorter arch. If this interests you, take a look at Kindle Singles, "compelling ideas at their natural length," to be inspired by the short story market. 

Write a book of short stories

If you have lots of ideas and characters that you want to explore, and if you enjoy working on shorter pieces of work, then maybe you are destined to write a book of short stories. What's great about this is that your book will have the appearance of a full-length novel, perhaps 250 pages or more, but it will contain 10 or so short stories. Even better, if you can write with this intention in mind, you can plan a narrative thread to connect the stories, to present a comprehensive collection for your readers.   

Join a writers' group or attend a writers' conference

Don't underestimate the power of group think. If you have a great story idea but are stuck on the ending, you can join a writers' group and participate in a critiquing session. You might be a little nervous at first to present your work in front of strangers, but you have to know that everyone is there with the same goal--to finish their own manuscripts and to help others do the same. You can usually find out about local writers' groups from your library, or, if you can spare some vacation time, you could sign up for events like NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month, which holds a writing retreat and workshops.

Source: NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month

In the end, whatever you do, just keep writing. You will get better at it and gain more confidence the more you work at it.

Stacey D. Atkinson is a freelance editor and author of Stuck, a novel she published via her independent company Mirror Image Publishing.  

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