There are many ways not to finish a book. Non-writers do it all the time. However, as a writer, you have to put a little more effort into not finishing your work. So here are some of the best ways I’ve found to ensure that work in progress stays a work in progress, allowing you to have all of the perks of being a writer – terminal poverty, the ability to be a tortured artist, the bragging rights that go with being able to put pen to paper – without actually running the risk of publishing anything.
Wait for Inspiration
Ah, Inspiration. That fickle muse is responsible for beginning more unfinished works of art than anything else. If she would just stick around, but no. She much prefers to show up, hit you over the head with some marvelous new insight into how the world works (or how it should work), and then she vanishes, leaving you to do all the hard work once the flash has faded.
Just once, it would be nice if she would even stick to schedule. She should show up when you’re comfortably sitting in your favorite writing spot – Starbucks, perhaps – and you have that extra-large cup of coffee so that you can be certain of keeping going, no matter what. If we could only make an appointment with Inspiration and have her show up on time, the world would be a much more creative place.
Don’t, whatever you do, be tempted to set yourself a daily (or weekly, if that works better for you) word target. This will force you to write when Inspiration hasn’t arrived, and she might get upset with you.
Look at how every word you put down on paper in your first draft will be received by the world at large. After all, you won’t ever look at the words you write again, so every single word has to be chosen with the utmost care, nurtured and placed in exactly the right place before you move on.
Listen to the voice of your inner critic. He’s your very best friend, and wants to make absolutely certain the world is only subjected to the very highest forms of art.
Don’t ignore the urge to edit until the end of the day’s writing, or until the end of the chapter, or even the end of the book. Ignoring the inner critic while the first draft is being written might mean that he’ll hate everything that you ever write, and that would be horrible!
Given that you are still reading this, I’m assuming that you only take the very best advice about your writing. Good for you.
Don’t pay any attention to actually learning how other writers do things. You are a unique snowflake, and should do things your own way. If you want to write a steampunk/romance/thriller/fairytale, then you should be able to. (Seriously, for those looking for a challenge – I would love to read that one!) Never mind those people who insist that you need to know your audience, and build a platform of readers. Why would anyone need to know who you are before you publish?
Take Negative Feedback to Heart
Everyone knows that you only need to read the negative feedback. How dare anyone not like the work you have slaved over for months? It is absolutely perfect – if you have followed the advice given in the rest of this article, anything which is published will be the best work ever published. So if anyone dares to criticism you, let it be confirmation of the fact that you will ever be good enough to truly be accepted into the wider writing community. Take heart from the fact that no artist is ever truly appreciated until after they are dead.
Don’t take time to consider what the critics are actually saying. What do they know, after all? Don’t look into who they are and judge their advice/feedback in the way it was meant.
This is quite possibly the best way ever to not finish your book. Stop writing. Give up entirely. Obviously, keep telling everyone that you are a writer – just find something else to write and restart all of this from the beginning.
Don’t keep pressing on regardless until you finish the first draft, and then go back and edit at least twice yourself before finding a friendly (or not so friendly) editor, beta-readers, and then publish. That’s a lot of work, and will prevent you from attending parties and moaning about how no one really understands your art.