You know the drill. You come up with an amazing idea and you begin to work on it and then all hell breaks loose. You get sidetracked and by the time you sit back down to write, you have another amazing idea and you begin to work on the new project, never returning to the previous project. On and on it goes, until you have a mountain of uncompleted projects.
Getting books and articles finished used to be a trouble area for me years ago, but I’ve since started using these tips and tricks to make myself finish what I’ve started.
1. Finish What You Start - No Exceptions
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” —Francis of Assisi
Decide right now that you will always finish what you have started. You will work your tail off until the project is completes, no exceptions. Do not allow yourself to start any other writing projects until you have completed the one you are working on.
2. Break the Project Down into Simple Steps
“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.” —E.L. Doctorow
Feeling overwhelmed? Break your writing project down into smaller steps and tackle each step one by one. For example, the steps to write a book can include research, outlining, writing first chapter, and writing 2,000 words a day. When you break the book or article writing process down into simpler steps, your brain becomes more apt to want to tackle the steps.
3. Designate Time to Write
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” —Zig Ziglar
Create a writing schedule and stay committed to it. Give yourself a job, be the boss and schedule in your hours, and be an awesome employee to yourself by keeping those hours.
4. Put Other Ideas on a List
“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”—Robin Williams
It never fails. I start writing a book or a blog post and suddenly I get a flood of new ideas. Instead of starting each new project as it pops into my head, I jot down my new ideas into a new file or write them directly into my ideas notebook. This way I don’t get distracted from my current project and I get to build up a list of what I can write about later on.
5. Give Yourself a Deadline
“I always was an early-morning or late-night writer. Early morning was my favorite; late night was because you had a deadline. And at four in the morning, you make up some of your most absurd jokes.”—Joss Whedon
Deadlines are not an option. You need to set yourself a clear, obtainable deadline and work towards it. If you break your writing down into smaller tasks, give each individual task a deadline or a time limit. Be strict with yourself and keep to it.