Like many people who undertake a large-scale writing project, you may have never saw yourself as a writer before. Indeed, a lot of great writers didn’t apply themselves to their art until they were well into adult life. As you’ve probably discovered, one of the toughest parts of any writing project is maintaining a sense of direction, and keeping the whole thing moving steadily towards completion. If you’ve made a good start, but things seem to have slowed down since then, it can be very frustrating. Here are some of the best tips out there for finally finishing that big writing project.
Pin Down your Passion, and Remember How Unique You Are
One of the most basic pillars of being able to start and finish a writing project is passion for the subject matter. This is absolutely essential to finding the persistence it takes to just keep writing! Even when you’re an expert on the topic, writing isn’t easy, and you’ll need to have some kind of driving force in you to keep pressing towards the end goal. You may be finding it hard to really feel passionate about your project when you know there are so many other writers out there who have covered the exact same topic, and written far more words than you’ve managed. The best way around this is to remember that you’re unique. No one has had the same life as you, and no one will filter information through your mindset in the same way you can. When things get you down, just remember that you’re in possession of something very special.
Do your Research and Get Inspired
There’s probably been many books, magazines, and other projects focusing on your subject already. It’s important to explore the market, and read the good, the mediocre, and the bad material in the niche you’re looking to break into. The good stuff will help you to pick up little rhythmic shifts, examples of great dialogue, and beautiful similes. The bad stuff will show you what you need to avoid like the plague. Bad work can even be pretty inspirational, too! Many writers hit a magical moment where they close a book, and go “wow, that sucked. I could write something better than that!” If you’re planning to make money from your writing project, you need to explore the market as fully as possible, and try to tweak your project so that it occupies an untapped niche. Sometimes, finding inspiration can be as simple as watching an interview with an author you look up to, reading up on how to conduct a book signing, or using a magazine cover maker to give yourself a spurring taste of the finished product. Just make sure you’re reading something at all times. The one true sign of an amateur creative is someone who creates more art than they consume!
Have a Ritual, a Schedule, and Deadlines
It’s very beneficial to have a ritual to get you in the mindset for writing. Make yourself some tea, read for a while, or light some scented candles. Some writers will unplug their router and turn off their phone to ensure they’re not distracted from the task they want to complete. It’s also important to have a schedule which you can trust yourself to stick to. While it’s certainly possible to complete a big writing project with no structure as to how you write, this can make your output very erratic, and could hold you back from polishing the project off sooner. If you’re a morning person, then start working on your project first thing in the morning. If you’re a zombie through the morning, then clear your evenings for writing instead. You may want to set yourself deadlines on your calendar as well. Whether you have a deadline that’s self-imposed or lain on you by some kind of authority figure, keeping these kinds of milestones in mind can do a lot to spur you on, and will make it much more likely that you’ll finish the project in good time.
Meditate, Pray and Get Out the House
A lot of good writers have been known to say a special prayer before they start each writing session, and silently ask God or another entity for divine guidance and focus. Some meditation techniques have also been reported to help get writers in their “zone”.
Meditation will help to clear out all the chaos and mental clutter that we’re usually so wrapped up in, and invite a better flow of creative energy. Some writers like to leave the spiritual stuff on the shelf, and simply clear their minds by taking long walks around their local area. It’s certainly true that all kinds of great ideas can come to you when you’re not sitting at your desk staring at a blank page! Even if you love to write more than anything, too much of it will end up stifling both your creativity and self-discipline. Remember to take breaks here and there, and have some ritual you can depend on to refresh your mind.
The Juggernaut Method
If you’ve tried everything and you’re still struggling with severe writer’s block, then try out what some people call the “juggernaut” or “data dump” method. This is basically removing any distractions, forgetting the need to be perfect, and then simply writing all the important information as hard and fast as you can. Seriously, just let it all pour out! What you write following this method isn’t going to be spun gold, and will probably be well below your abilities. However, you’ll be one step closer to finally finishing your writing project than you were before! Dumping like this will give you a handy skeleton, which you can then edit, rearrange and hone over time until it’s shaped into something you’d be proud to put your name on. One of the greatest copywriters of all time, David Ogilvy, said “I’m a terrible writer, but a great editor”. Just remember this quote whenever you’re afraid of writing anything bad!