In that last wild week of finishing up writing the book that was a “Work in Process” for seven long years, here are a few little things I learned to help get to that final page.

If You Really Want To Write A Book:

  1. Turn off the television. It sucks up precious time and brain cells.If you can’t turn off the boob-tube because other people feel a desperate need to watch, take yourself away from it. Television is death to any kind of original creative work, not to mention concentration!
  2. Set a deadline that’s physically possible, but not too far in the future.Too tight a deadline and you may be tempted to throw your hands in the air and give up when the going gets hard. Too slack a deadline, and you may find yourself frittering away a lot of good writing time and then scrambling madly under pressure as the deadline comes near.
  3. Make a public statement of your intentions. Say something quite specific, like, oh, “I will finish writing this dratted book, and I will be ready to proofread the manuscript by this time next week!”Publish it on your blog, announce it to your writers’ group or yoga class, take out a classified ad in the paper — whatever it takes. The idea is to hang the threat of public humiliation over your own head, so failure is not an option.
  4. Set aside any idea you may have that every word must be perfect.Even if perfection was possible, it’s a moving target — your definition may change tomorrow, so don’t waste time and energy trying to reach whatever it may be today. Just keep moving forward, writing the very best you can without going nuts.
  5. Keep your focus set on the short-term goal. Never mind the proper format for a manuscript — you’ll take care of that when the writing is done.Never mind finding an agent or publisher — unless you’ve got a book to sell, or at least a proven track record and a knock-dead book proposal, that’s not relevant at the moment. And certainly, never mind the dreams of movie adaptations and international paperback reprint deals!For now, your only task is to do the writing.

There you have it, that’s what I figured out. And I’d love to hear any tips for sticking-to-it that you might have discovered, in the course of any kind of long hard project!

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