Skip to main content

Mistake 2: Not Finishing

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer from The Writer's Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: Kind of obvious, isn’t it? But starting a project is so much more interesting than slugging through the entire
thing. The middle section of any piece of writing, whether it be a novel, narrative nonfiction, a magazine article, even a short story, is almost always kind of hard to work on. The excitement of generating
the idea—the lure of the beginning, writing something new—isn’t there, and the lure of the finishing line is as far away as the shiver of the beginning.

Image placeholder title

It’s always easy to get sidetracked by a new idea while you’re in the midst of working on something. It’s also easy for a writer to do just about anything other than write. Check e-mail, go out and walk the dog, do laundry, take a nap, research, market—anything. I’ve always said the hardest aspect of the job of being a writer is writing.

The Myers-Briggs personality test classifies people as either process oriented or result oriented. If you are a process person, you might have a problem getting to the end of a project.

The solution: Suck it up. Keep those new ideas and exciting other projects at bay. For the professional writer who is under contract this is a bit easier because you know your paycheck hangs in the balance, but even then, I know many authors who have a hell of a time bringing a project in on deadline.

For the writer who isn’t under contract this isn’t quite the case. But understand you won’t ever get that contract if you don’t finish a project.

If you are one of those people focused on the process and not the end result, figure out a system whereby you can reward yourself by getting to the end.

The bottom line is simply forcing yourself to sit down and plug away at it. Knocking out words regardless of how you feel. A one-hundred-thousand-word novel might take a year or several years, and then you just come to “The End” one day. But it takes hundreds of days to get to “The End.” As a writer you have to put in those hundreds of days.

Lisa Jewell | Writer's Digest Interview Quote

The WD Interview: Lisa Jewell

The New York Times-bestselling British author discusses creating thrilling plot twists and developing characters in her 19th novel, The Night She Disappeared, in this interview from the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

Author Anat Deracine found her agent at Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Now she’s sharing what she’s learned to help other writers become authors. Here are her 5 tips for successfully pitching literary agents in person.

Tips for Reading Poetry in Front of an Audience

8 Tips for Reading Your Poetry in Front of an Audience

Poet's Market editor and published poet Robert Lee Brewer shares eight tips for reading your poetry in front of an audience.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character lose their powers.

Sharon Short | Point of View Quote 1

Managing Point of View: Mythbusting

In the first of this three-part series, novelist and WD columnist Sharon Short breaks down 7 of the most common myths about choosing which POV is right for your story.

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

As self-publishing continues to become an attractive and popular options for writers, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to have the right expectations. Here, author and entrepreneur Tom Vaughan shares how to channel your inner “authorpreneur” to help your book find its readers.

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Award-winning author, playwright, and journalist Mark Kurlansky discusses the experience of channeling Ernest Hemingway in his new memoir, The Importance of Not Being Ernest.

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to Alyssa Rickert, Grand Prize winner of the 2nd Annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's her winning essay, "In Between."

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

From maintaining subtlety to visiting haunted places, author J. Fremont shares everything to consider when writing about ghosts and the supernatural in fiction.