Once upon a time, I had only one writing goal: to actually finish a novel. To be honest, I wasn't sure I could do it. If you've never written "The End" before, it can feel like a daunting task. And if you've done it once, you might start to doubt that you'll be able to do it again. But you can! Here's how:
1. Give yourself permission to write something terrible. I can guarantee that you won't get it right on the first try. Your first draft might be the worst thing in the world, but you know what? That's what revisions are for. Let yourself write an awful first draft. The next one will be better.
2. Start small. If you don't have an existing writing schedule, declaring that you're going to write four hours a day might be a tad ambitious. Start off with a half hour or with a manageable word count goal, and go up from there.
3. Work toward a goal. Whether they're weekly word counts, daily writing blocks, or final deadlines, set concrete goals and work toward them. Writing contests can be great motivators, as can things like NaNoWriMo.
4. Hold yourself accountable. Make sure there are consequences if you don't reach your goal. If you're not good at cracking your own whip, ask a friend to bully you into staying on task. Or better yet, ask an enemy, someone who would like nothing better than to see you fail. How's that for motivation?
5. Celebrate small victories. Instead of getting frustrated at how much you still have to do, acknowledge what you have done (wrote that difficult chapter, reached your weekly word count) and let that feeling of accomplishment motivate you to keep going.
6. Don't beat yourself up. Even if you don't reach your goal, keep going forward! You might fall behind on your writing schedule, but don't get discouraged. You'll have setbacks. Just keep pushing on.
7. Don't get distracted by shiny new ideas. The brand new idea you came up with might seem more appealing than your current project, but if you've never finished a novel before then you need to stick with the one you're working on. Because if you finish one, you'll finish another.
8. Let the story carry you forward. If you're an outliner, figure out what happens later in the story to keep you on track. If you're a pantser, think of an image or feeling that you want to leave readers with and write toward it. And remember to hold on to whatever you love about the story, especially when you hit a rough patch.
9. Be patient. It's tempting to get impatient and want that book to be to done already! But some projects take longer than others. And trust me, publishing is the slowest business on earth, so you might as well start exercising that patience now.
Bottom line is, no one can write the book for you. It won't be easy and, let's be honest, that book may never get published. But if you're serious about writing, do whatever it takes to finish that novel. Because there is nothing quite like writing "The End."