Keyboard Marathon - Finish That Novel!

Happy Thursday, everyone. I hope you're all still having an awesome week, and looking forward to a great weekend.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my Two-year Blogaversary Giveaway and Can You Handle The TRUTH Blogfest posts yesterday. I'll be hopping around to all the blogs in the fest to try and guess which of your facts is a lie!

Today, I'd like to welcome fellow British author, Alex Tanner, to my blog with a guest post about finishing a novel.

Take it away, Alex ... 

I’ve been writing novels for nine years. Over nine years I’ve finished seven novels (even though it took me until December 2013 to actually release anything officially) and over that long stretch of time I’ve come to realise some things about the writing game:

1. Anyone can come up with a premise
2. Few people can take the plunge and actually start writing
3. Even fewer will continue with that novel to its final, ready-to-read, finished product

It sounds so easy when you read a guide or a book on how to write a novel, doesn’t it? ‘Think of an idea, set aside an hour a day to write, and eventually you’ll have a novel! Congratulations!’ But it’s never that simple.

Ask any novelist and they will tell you, that starting a novel is easy; I know Clare and I share a common trait that we both love starting brand new stories so much that finishing our current projects can feel like a slog. The new ideas want all the attention, and as writers, we have to plant that seed, as it may grow into our best work yet.

Even though I am fortunate to have a backlog of complete (or nearly complete) novels, I also have almost a hundred premise ideas, several dozen abandoned projects that are anything up to 7,000 words in, and two ‘in progress’ novels that are about 30,000 words in. Oh, and let’s not forget the novel I am meant to be editing, plus the novel I started writing yesterday. I know I will finish them all eventually, but whenever I try, a new idea pops up and I have to write it down.

It’s like writer’s ADD.

The best piece of advice I can give when it comes to finishing a novel, despite all the distractions and new ideas getting in your way, is this: don’t focus on what you hope the finished product will be like. Take your novel one word at a time. Even if you take part in NaNoWriMo in November, use it to get 50,000 words down. If you finish, that’s an added bonus. But looking at that four paragraph premise and thinking about the 80,000 words you’ve yet to write, edit and edit again is daunting.

It’s like looking at weight loss, knowing you’ve 80lbs to lose, but rather than focusing on each pound at a time, you’re focusing on the finished product and thus, many people give up half way through because it’s much less stressful.

Another tip that I learned the hard way is to never give yourself a time limit, wherever possible. It is nice to think that you’d like your novel done by the end of the month, but this may lead to you quitting when you realise you will have no choice but to write 4,000 words every single day for the next 30 days. Take it slow, focus on getting the next sentence out before thinking of anything else.

About Alex Tanner:

Alex Tanner is the author of the tense travel thriller Paradise Incoming and the psychological short story Coffee. Tequila Bartender, a fast-paced revenge thriller, will be released in March 2014 through many online retailers.

Find Alex Tanner Online:


  1. I definitely know how to take it slow!

  2. It's better to finish a novel eventually than to quit part way. Thanks for stopping by Alex T.

  3. Excellent advice, Alex! I never have that writers ADD thing, I'm pretty much a one book at a time kind of person, but I definitely know a lot of writers who have to deal with the constant chatter of new ideas popping up!

  4. It's easier one book at a time. If you need to quit half way then you've probably taken a wrong turn.

  5. Good advice! Your 1, 2, and 3 steps are right on.


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