How Can I Finish a Novel?
Write. Write. Write. Finishing a novel is all about maintaining consistency. Block out a specific time every day to write. Do not worry about your quality of writing or what you actually manage to put on the page. Those are far less important than building the systems to keep you moving forward. Act on your ideas so you don't tire of the idea or continuously get distracted from it. Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love mentions in her book Big Magic how she likes to think ideas will manifest in one way or another, and eventually will grow tired of waiting for you and will move to someone else. Work on keystone habits that bring up your efficiency even if they have little to do with writing a novel (such as consistently doing an exercise you enjoy, eating healthy meals, or maintaining a supportive social life).
What if I Need Ideas?
Work on unfiltering yourself. Don't dismiss any ideas, however outlandish or provocative. Even if you think of a whole bunch of crazy ideas you would never want to actually write about, one of those ideas is likely to trigger additional ideas and lead you along a path to eventually find an idea you are excited about that you believe is meaningful.
"Don't live the same year 75 times and call it a life."
- Robin Sharma
I Don't Have Time to Write
Yes you do. If writing is meaningful to you, schedule 20 minutes at the beginning of your day to write. I know an author who finished a novel this way. Consistency is far more important than the amount of time each day you can write. Just as someone who works out for 20 minutes of intense weightlifting each day will become stronger than someone who intermittently goes for 3 hours and then has long spaces of time in between, blocking out that time will provide you with the satisfaction and pride of watching your writing progress, while minimally impacting your other obligations. If you can't make 20 minutes a day, don't kid yourself into believing writing is important to you at the present moment.
Where Can I Get Internships / Experience?
While we do not presently offer internships, some large children's publishers such as Hachette, Candlewick Press, and Scholastic Press do. Positions are very competitive; however, they provide valuable experience for individuals interested in publishing. Often, smaller organizations like local and school papers will offer opportunities to learn more about publishing. Send out emails to local organizations and people you're interested in working with. If you can't find information about internships on a website, you can try calling or emailing anyway. Be respectful, and clear on your intentions and interests. The worst that can happen is they can say no, in which case you can find somebody else. If you do not get an internship, don't worry. Keep working toward your goals and continue learning about book publishing on your own.
"Nobody in your life will ever tell you what you can do, they'll tell you everything you can't do." Claire Wineland
What if Writing Can't Sustain My Income?
Writing is a lifestyle, but like all arts, you should give yourself the freedom to explore and be flexible with how you choose to pursue your art and what you create. Relying on writing to provide an income restricts your creative freedom because some of the best art may not yet be in the mainstream. Don't let the market dictate your freedom of expression and don't let it dissuade you from writing. In order to have a healthy relationship with writing, do not expect it to pay your bills.
"Life Before Death. Strength Before Weakness. Journey Before Destination"
- Brandon Sanderson
"Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anais Nin
How Can I Stay Interested in my Writing?
Keep writing consistently. Understand that not every day will be perfect or even fun, but you are working toward something larger that will be rewarding. Most writers' first drafts aren't great, and that's perfectly okay. Consider this: A first draft that's poorly written in parts but is complete is better than an incomplete project, just as a old crappy vehicle is still a lot more useful than a part of a pristine, brand new vehicle if you want to get somewhere. Finishing projects can help you stay interested because of the reward you'll feel when your project is done. If you don't enjoy writing at all, however, consider why you want to write in the first place. Is it worth it?
I Want to Be a Blogger
Then blog. There are many successful bloggers, although expect the work to be tough. Blogging requires a lot of self discipline and accountability. Don't let this discourage you, just be ready to work through it. We recommend finding a community of similar minded people to hold you accountable and to continue to grow and feed into new ideas and experiences.
What Do I Do When I Finish a Novel?
Query it! (after you've patted yourself on the back, copyedited, content edited, and CONDENSED your writing.) There are hundreds of agents who are always looking for the next great novel. Educate yourself about the publishing industry to reduce the chance you are taken advantage of, and learn about self-publishing too! Your particular circumstance (business professional with a platform, student, parent etc.) and goals will influence which publishing decisions are best for you.
Rejection is part of every industry. For any number of reasons (manuscript length, their mood in the day, current market trends, similar competing books etc.) an agent may or may not choose to represent your book. Just as someone may reject your book simply because their schedule is full or they're having a bad day, they may accept your book because their schedule is empty or they're having a good day. Put in the work and focus on delivering the most value to your intended audience. The publishing industry is complex and part of this relies on chance. Don't fret over it. Keep writing and keep pursuing what is meaningful to you!
"Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it." - Henry David Thoreau
How Can I Query My Book?
Use SFWA to look for legit agents. Legit agents do not charge reading fees or any other types of fees. Find an agent you can get along with, particularly someone who's looking for a long term relationship. Remember, it is better to have no agent than a bad agent.
"Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline, no freedom." - Jeanette Winterson
Recommended Websites and Apps
Scrivener (we love this for writing 1st drafts)
Plottr (our favorite for book plotting)
Werdsmith (notes on the go)
SFWA (Writer Beware resource)
Scribe Media (blog)
Brandon Sanderson (turning books into movies)
Remember, just about any tool will work. While our recommended sites can be useful, consistently writing is paramount :)