How to Finally Finish Writing Your Book

Doug Landsborough
December 22, 2022

Imagine this with me: you’ve been working away on your novel for months now, maybe even years. You’ve put in 50,000 or 100,000 words and it’s looking great. You’ve even conquered the dreaded sagging middle and emerged victorious into the third act.

And then you hit a brick wall.

All that momentum, all that excitement, and somehow the end of your book feels longer than everything you’ve written so far.

Bonus awful points if you’re forced to take a few weeks off since you last wrote.

I get it—I’ve been there. Heck, I think nearly all writers have been there. But fear not, awesome author, because I’m here with a solution.

In this article, we’re going to unclog those creative pipes and help you finish writing your book. To do that, we’re going to:

  1. Make a plan
  2. Set a goal
  3. Create a writing schedule
  4. Find a writing buddy
  5. Take breaks
  6. Celebrate progress

You’ll note that none of those involve character interviews, memorizing story beats, or coming up with synonyms for “said.” That’s because this is all on you and your actions, not your writing knowledge.

So let’s get started getting done!

1. Make a plan

First up, we want to attack this thing with a plan. And don’t worry, dear pantsers who are reading this, I’m not talking about diving into the Snowflake Method or making a detailed outline of every scene.

No, this is a plan to get your novel done.

This plan will look different for every author, so I can’t cover every single detail that might go into your plan, but consider some of the following:

Establish a writing space - There’s something special that happens when you set up a writing space. First, you’re doing your body some favors. A good writing space isn’t on the couch or in bed where you’ll damage your back, neck, and wrists. Beyond that, it’s a place where your family respects your time and where you can separate yourself from outside distractions.

Understand where you’re starting from - This is especially important if it’s been a few weeks since you last wrote. Take some time to reread what you’ve already written. If you’ve outlined your book, revisit your outline to see where you’re headed next (and if that still makes sense with what you’ve written).

As we go through the next few sections—goals, a schedule, accountability, and some self-care—you will add more and more to your writing plan until you’re well-equipped to finish your book.

2. Set a goal

There’s a lot of power in proper goal setting. I don’t want to get metaphysical with you or become your new life coach (neither of us want that).

But the mere act of setting a goal makes reaching that goal easier by:

  • Increasing motivation
  • Upping productivity
  • Providing direction
  • Giving you an endpoint to visualize

But “I want to finish writing my book” isn’t a good goal. No, it’s arguably a bad goal, even if that’s exactly what you want to accomplish. No, for that we’re going to quickly talk about SMART goals.

SMART Goals

You might have heard of SMART goals before, but let me do a quick recap for those who are unfamiliar with the concept. SMART goals are:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Time-oriented

These types of goals have been proven to be more effective and thus more likely to be accomplished than their less intelligent counterparts.

Looking at these five components, you can pretty quickly see why “I want to finish writing my book” isn’t a great goal statement. Sure, it might work eventually, but it’s not doing anything to help get to the end of your mission.

So let’s figure out some SMART goals.

Some SMART Goals for Finishing Your Novel

How you set your big goal is up to you, but here are some suggestions:

Base it on word count - This could be a total word count for your novel (i.e., 100,000 words) or a daily writing goal (i.e., 500 words per day). Either way, Dabble can help you with project and daily goal setting to help keep you on track. If you go for a total word count, Dabble can even tell you how many words you need to write per day, assuming you have…

A deadline - This adds the time-oriented part of your goal. A deadline stops your book from feeling like it’s going on forever and helps motivate you to write regularly. But only if you…

Be real with yourself -  I’m combining realistic and attainable into this one. If you’re currently writing 250 words per day, it isn’t realistic to suddenly start writing 3,000 words per day. Expecting this will only lead to disappointment and burnout. Similarly, saying you’re going to go from 75,000 to 100,000 words in two weeks after not writing for a month isn’t doing yourself any favors.

So what does a SMART goal look like for a writer trying to finish their book?

“I’ll write 400 words per day for the next two months.”

“I’ll complete one chapter every week for the next six weeks.”

“I’ll write for thirty minutes every morning when I wake up for the next month, then re-evaluate what progress looks like to me.”

So what is your SMART goal? Add it to your plan.

3. Create a writing schedule

There’s a chance you already thought this far ahead when making your goal, but we need to chat about making a writing schedule.

Here’s a truth that’s hard for some people to mesh with: while writing is a creative process, you don’t need the perfect conditions and inspiration to write.

Instead, start thinking of your creativity as a muscle—the more you use it, the stronger it will become. And you don’t even need protein powder for this workout.

The best thing you can do for your story and your writing career is to make writing a habit. Not something that only happens when conditions are perfect, but something that happens automatically.

And the only way to do that is to start.

For that, we’re going to revisit the ideas of realistic and attainable. If you work twelve hours a day and have children to look after, it isn’t realistic to say you’ll write for two hours a day. 

But you also won’t finish your book if you only write for five or ten minutes every three days.

Find what works best for your situation and be consistent with it. Consistency trumps flashy. It might sound cool to say you wrote for three hours on Saturday, but that’s actually less writing than a half hour every day. 

Here are some ideas for your writing schedule:

“I’ll write every weekday for thirty minutes.”

“I’ll write three times per week at the same time each day.”

“I’ll use half my lunch break to go somewhere quiet and write.”

It doesn’t start with a big commitment. In fact, it’s better to start with a small commitment and gradually increase the time or frequency you can give to your writing. Even the pros use writing sprints and the Pomodoro method to write in small chunks. This ups your creativity and your productivity—a win-win!

Add a consistent writing schedule to your plan and slot it into the calendar app on your phone. This will go a very, very long way towards helping you finish writing your book.

4. Find a writing partner

Accountability is such a massive part of finishing anything, and your book is no exception.

Some people are great at holding themselves accountable. Most people are not. Be honest with yourself—and I mean really honest, I won’t judge—and figure out which camp you fall under.

If you’re anything like me or 99% of other writers (I made that number up but there’s a pretty good chance it’s accurate), you need an external force to help keep you accountable. Enter writing partners.

A writing partner can come in many forms: someone who gives you constructive criticism on your work (a critique partner), someone who you have in-person or virtual writing sessions with (like a writing group), or someone who just acts as your cheerleader and tells you when you should get some writing in instead of watching another episode of Warrior Nun on Netflix (my wife speaking about my current guilty pleasure). 

Some of the best writing partners are other authors. They know the struggle you’re going through while also understanding how important writing is to you. But some writers have a horrid tendency to force their own voice and preferences into other people’s work.

So, I don’t know… make a blood pact or something from the beginning that you won’t do that to one another.

For those of us who struggle with imposter syndrome, you don’t even need to share your work with your partner. When it comes to why we’re here, we don’t need them for that at all.

Accountability is the name of the game here. Find someone who will keep you to your schedule and plugging away towards finishing your book.

If you’re looking for a place to find your writing crew, check out the Story Craft Café, It’s a community of writers who love supporting one another in their craft.

Dogs make great friends but terrible writing partners.

The #1 Rule for Writing Partners

This can’t be emphasized enough: a writing partnership is a two-way street. This goes for critique partners, writing groups, beta readers, or accountability buddies.

They’re not there to work for you (unless you’re paying them, like in the case of an editor). Do not blame them when you fall off the wagon. And for the love of all things literary, be as good a partner to them as you want them to be to you.

One-way relationships fail, and they fail hard. Don’t be that kind of writing partner.

5. Take breaks

Now that we have a solid plan in place—including a SMART goal, a schedule, and a system of accountability—you have everything you technically need to go and finish your book. 

But there’s a little bit of important self-care I want to tack on to this whole process.

Writing is a passion for most of us. It’s something we do because we love it. For some, making a living off writing is the goal, while others just want to write. Wherever you fall, you like writing.

So the last thing we want is for you to suffer burnout and end up hating the process.

Yes, we want our writing to be a habit, but that doesn’t mean we want to do it to the point you hate it. On your journey towards finishing your book, work in some breaks. Take a day off, read, spend time with family, watch a bunch of Warrior Nun. Do something that isn’t writing.

The trick to this step of finishing your novel is to do it in moderation. Too often and you’ll be working against yourself. Too little and you’ll just end up exhausted.

Think of it like waking up on time for work or school. Your alarm might be set for 6am every morning except for Saturday and Sunday. Yet it’s fair to say that most of us will still get into the  habit of waking up on time, even with weekends being a thing.

So work hard to finish writing your novel, but don’t ruin your writing experience.

A quick note: This applies to career writers, too. Don’t feel like you need to write seven days a week if writing is your full-time job. You have a life and you know what your limits are. Work the way that’s best for you.

Taking Unintentional Breaks

Sometimes life throws you curveballs and you’re forced to take an unexpected break.

Maybe a stomach bug knocks you out for a week. Or you drank too much at girls’ night and you can’t handle hangovers like you used to. Or maybe you stayed up all night watching Warrior Nun.

Whatever your weirdly specific reason, understand that not all is lost.

It takes a bit of resilience building, but these unintentional breaks will happen more often than you think, so overcoming stalled progress is important.

It’s easy, though! Just look at what you were doing before—let’s say 500 words every morning—and cut it in half for the next few days or a week, depending on the length of your break. 

Crush those 250 words each day and bump them up when you know you can write more. In a week or two, you’ll be writing at 100% or more again.

6. Celebrate your progress

Here’s another piece of self-care advice to finish off our guide to writing the end of your novel: celebrate your progress!

Too many people think you can only celebrate when you finish something. Yes, you should be celebrating when you finish your novel. 

But that’s not the only time!

Celebrate the small wins. If you have 25,000 words left to go, do something every 5,000 or 10,000 words. Or figure out a series of targets that you can hit every few days or every week.

To be clear, I don’t mean go out for a fancy dinner or buy an expensive gift for yourself at every milestone. But treat yourself to a fancy latte instead of your daily coffee or tea. Have a bowl of ice cream (I won’t judge you for the time of day, either). Read an extra chapter of your current book without guilt.

Most importantly, share your progress with someone. That someone can (and should) be your writing partner, but it can also include your spouse, parent, best friend, or D&D group.

If your goal is 500 words per day, 5,000 words represents two weeks (assuming you’re taking weekends off) of consistently hitting your goal.

It might not sound like a lot, but that’s a big deal. So share it with people who will appreciate just how big a deal it is.

Bonus Step: Actually Write

This one should be a given, but you actually need to sit down and write if you want to finish your book.

As obvious as this step might be, it is usually the hardest. If you follow the steps in this guide, it should make it a heck of a lot easier.

Another way to make it easier is to use a novel-writing platform that is designed to do just that. Dabble gives you all the tools you need without any of the learning curve or clutter.

Want to outline your book? The Plot Grid is a game changer.

Need to reference your character outline? All your notes are just one click away.

Have a stroke of inspiration while waiting in the mall parking lot? You can write on any device, at any time, and have your work automatically synced as you go.

What it doesn’t give you is any excuses to not finish your book. You’ve probably made enough of those on your own—again, we’ve all been there.

So try out all Dabble’s features for free, no credit card required, by clicking on this link here. Make your plan, set your goals, and go finish your dang book.

Doug Landsborough

Doug Landsborough can’t get enough of writing. Whether freelancing as an editor, blog writer, or ghostwriter, Doug is a big fan of the power of words. In his spare time, he writes about monsters, angels, and demons under the name D. William Landsborough. When not obsessing about sympathetic villains and wondrous magic, Doug enjoys board games, horror movies, and spending time with his wife, Sarah.