Stumbling before the finish line (or how not to)

So if I write 500 words per day, I reckon I could finish my book in about a month. That will be 15,000 words, which I think should cover it. Although it’s hard to say. I’m not sure if this is a realistic goal, but it sure makes me feel better. I am HANGING to finish now.

I was so excited today at the thought, I started searching for potential publishers. Nothing wrong with that, I’m sure. However, I got so carried away, I nearly submitted a few sample chapters in response to a call for submissions. Of course I would have write a synopsis and query letter too, but I was all systems go.

Until I decided I’d better check if it was a common thing to do, before finishing the manuscript. Bloody good job I did. It turns out, it is common, but not for the right reasons. The most common advice from my google search was that many writers get over excited and submit too early, that you need to be sure you have polished your story to the BEST IT CAN BE, and of course, that you can actually FINISH.

Apparently it’s very common to write most of a novel only to realise you can’t finish it. Perhaps your plot cannot be resolved, maybe you get sick of your characters, or it might be that you just haven’t got the willpower. One blogger (Sage of the South) commented on my home page, saying he hoped I wasn’t a ‘pantser’. At the time, I thought it was funny. Now I see the serious side of his comment.

I have to finish. I have to prove I’m not a pantser. To myself. How can I expect a publisher to accept my work unfinished, when there are so many ways to fail? And even when I do finish (and notice I said WHEN I will), that is not the end of my work. There’s edit after edit, critique after critique, and most likely, tears upon tears to contend with.

I must stay vigilant. It’s great to be excited, but I have a way to go. Not a long, long way, but a long way nonetheless.

So I plan to stick to my goal of writing 500 words per day. This post is almost that word count, so it’s not that really that many words (and I wrote this in 30 minutes). I will finish my plot planning for part five, before I start writing again, ironing out any plot challenges now, rather than later. I still love my characters, and think they’re quite funny, so I don’t think I’ll have an issue there. And most importantly, I WILL NOT GIVE UP! I am not a pantser!

I might be tonight though, because I’m tired and it’s late (for a mummy).

Post amendment: May 2016

I now know that I completely misconstrued the comment from Sage of the South, and that a pantser isn’t a writer who doesn’t finish, but a writer who doesn’t plan. Although, I guess if you don’t plan, it might be harder to finish. And I can certainly vouch for that. 

Ps. Pantser alert 

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9 thoughts on “Stumbling before the finish line (or how not to)

  1. Nothing wrong with being a panster. Many people write in a linear fashion without using an outline and do quite well. My first published novel was written that way. The second was written as a panster until about the half way mark where the details required more attention to plotting elements and an outline was needed to keep up with the details. It was only because it was a crime novel. I could never write historical fiction in any way but as a panster, linearly.

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    • It seems I have misunderstood what a pantser actually is. I assumed it meant someone who does not follow through and finish something. But I have since looked it up and now understand it’s someone who doesn’t outline their novel, someone who writes by the seat of their pants. Well. I take it back. I am a pantser after all!! My planning is not as detailed as an outline. I had a rough overview but I certainly didn’t plan chapter by chapter. Interesting 😝

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      • Ahhh! I see. Everybody writes the way that is most comfortable to them. I think if you are able to tie up loose ends without an outline you are fine being a panster. I alternate depending on what I am writing. 🙂

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  2. Thank you 😊 I wanted to set a goal that didn’t scare me too much. I know some writers think no less than 2000 is acceptable! But I have to be realistic. I think your 500 word posts may have inspired me to choose that number. So cheers 😊

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