On your toes friends, family and fellow writers. If you come across writers stammering out any of the following excuses for not finishing a novel DO NOT let them off the hook.
At the very least give them something to think about. They are writers after all and what’s a story without conflict?
- EXCUSE: I have no time
Response: Find time. Write every day for at least fifteen minutes. Paragraphs become pages and pages become novels.
John Grisham on his first novel first novel “A Time to Kill:
“I worked on it for three years. I remember I had to go to court sometimes at 9:00. And I can remember just sitting in court being dead tired ’cause I’d already written for three hours “.
- EXCUSE: Plot got away from me
Response: Ever plan a trip with your family? Four elements – People, places, days and times – set them up and get everybody to the same holiday spot.
A novel is also a journey, a story to tell, a cast of characters who although they have may places to go they all find their way to the same conclusion. Round up the same elements and it will be harder to lose your way.
- EXCUSE: My family doesn’t support my writing
Response: So? You wouldn’t be the first writer to write in a vacuum. Writing isn’t supposed to be a joyride. Writing is work and not everyone will understand your ‘job’. The one person that will never forgive you if you don’t finish your novel is the one writing it.
- EXCUSE: It sucks
Response: How will you know if you have a best seller until you write it? Four pages here and there that gets critiqued in a writer’s group or by your girlfriend or boyfriend should not by the yardstick you measure your talent by.
Kathryn Stockett may not have intended to write a book that stayed on the bestseller list for over 30 weeks. She did, but she also endured 60 rejections. You think your manuscript sucks? Are you sure?
- EXCUSE: It’s too long
Response: Get help. You cut things when they’re too long: your lawn, your hair, your dog’s hair, ah, fur; when things are too long you cut them. That goes for stories. Save the excess paragraphs pages chapters in a file.
As for the ‘help’ go to a writer’s group and find Beta Readers. In the event you can afford a story editor go for it. ‘Rewrite’ is the place where manuscripts become great. And novels are finished, ready for the world.
There are many, many other excuses for not finishing a novel but none as troublesome as the silent ones. At least when I hear an excuse I will do my best to encourage a reevaluation of the situation and I might get a writer’s engine revved up and going again.
But if there is silence I fear apathy and all I can do is maintain the constant request, “Don’t give up”.
If you have a story give it a chance. There is no feeling in the world like holding a finished manuscript in your hands. The one you have no excuses left but to say, yes, I wrote this and I’m proud of it.
Keep writing and if you are in the Atlanta area on December 10th sign up for my workshop The 60 Scenes Writing Method 1-DAY Workshop. This workshop is my contribution to helping writers organize stories and use storyboarding and scene construction to finish a first draft. “If you can write 60 scenes you can write a novel.”
Christina for PenPaperWrite