Reaching “The End”: Tried-and-True Ways to Help You Finish a Writing Project!

by Lesley-Anne Longo

Published at 2022-07-20

So, you’ve read TEC’s blogs on how to get a writing project underway, and after many hours of hard work, you’re finally nearing the finish line. Good work! But how exactly can you wrap up your writing project in the best way? Here are some tried-and-true ways to get there!  



Abandon the Notion of Perfection


First, if you find yourself unable to wrap up and complete a writing project because you can’t stop tinkering and fiddling with the text you’ve written, this is for you: Give up on the idea of “perfect.”


There’s a reason that the word “draft” exists, you know. Getting that first draft completed and finished is what you should be focusing on.


Once that step is done, then you can start thinking about self-editing and doing that tinkering. However, don’t chase perfection and get trapped in a cycle of reworking and fiddling with a manuscript. Aim for good. If you get lost in the edits, you may never reach the finish line.


Remember, perfection is the enemy of good.



Work with an Editor to Get that Final Draft Right


Second, if you’ve spent a good amount of time in the drafting stage and feel like you’re ready to take the next step, bringing in an editor might be just the thing to help you wrap up the project. The best writers work closely with their editors and learn from them, plus editorial feedback will help you improve for that next big writing project.


An editor can help you finish your writing project, so consider working with one to bring it to an efficient and satisfying close.



What If You’re Still Stuck in the Middle?


So, maybe you’re a little further away from “The End” than you’d like to be. That’s okay! If you’re not quite there yet and you find yourself flagging, here are some things you can do to help you keep up your stamina and finish that first full draft.



Tap Into the Drill Sergeant Within


There are days you’ll be filled with inspiration and zest, and you’ll be itching to jump out of bed and get writing. However, there will also be days when you don’t feel like writing at all. You might feel tired, uninspired, or like your heart just isn’t in it. Those days are bound to happen, and when they do, don’t fret. Just look within and tap into your inner drill sergeant.


Writing is a solitary venture, and because of that, you often need to be your own cheerleader. Sometimes, though, you need something a bit harder than that to get you going. That’s where the drill sergeant comes in. Grit your teeth, force yourself to sit down in that chair, open up that laptop, and just…write.


The good news is that once you start getting into the flow of writing, you might find some of that inspiration returning. Once you hit your stride, you never know what you’re capable of! And all you had to do was just…start.


Try making a deal with yourself: Tell yourself that you’ll write for 30 minutes, and if you really aren’t feeling into it, then you can stop. I bet though, that nine times out of ten you’ll find your flow once that initial discomfort passes, and you’ll feel inspired to keep writing once the 30 minutes are up.



Take Care of Yourself Physically


Writing can be mentally draining, but it can also be physically draining. That’s why it’s important to take care of your physical self—all those hours spent sitting in a chair can take their toll. And hours of focusing and writing can exhaust your brain.


Make sure you’re eating well, and not skipping meals if you’re really on a roll with a chapter and don’t want to break for lunch (that’s a sure-fire way to burn out). Also make sure you’re getting enough physical exercise—even something as simple as stretching can help reinvigorate how you feel. Or, try taking a 30-minute walk or doing an exercise video.


Taking a short break might seem counterintuitive, because you might be thinking, “But I could spend that time writing!” The truth is, though, that writing can be a test of endurance, and like any athlete, you need to take care of yourself to do your best work.


If you’ve eaten fast food for lunch and dinner the past few days and not left the house or gotten any exercise, you might find that you aren’t feeling very well. And who feels inspired in that frame of mind? When you feel well, you look at everything in a better light. And who knows? A 30-minute walk might be just the thing you need to puzzle out what’s holding you up in chapter 10!



Finish Strong


The main thing to keep in mind is that finishing is the most important thing, no matter how “good” the draft is. If you want to be a writer, then you know that you need to finish projects, not just collect half-finished manuscripts and never actually complete any of them.


Every project—be it a book or an essay or a short story—is going to have challenges, no matter how good the topic or the story is. That’s why it’s important to put your head down and muscle through to the finish line. Get that drill sergeant fired up!


Making it through this project is the first step you’ll take in the process of learning what you need to know to get through the next one just a little bit easier, so don’t stop. Even if you know it’s a mess, don’t stop.


Remember: To start the editing process and begin fixing those messy parts, you have to have a complete draft first, so get going!




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