And in my ongoing quest to answer emailed questions, here's one I get a lot: "I'm writing a book and having trouble finishing it. Do you have any advice on how a person can get their thoughts out or should it just come to you naturally?"
First, I think the writing process is very unique for each writer, so what works for me may not work for you. But in my personal experience, I wasn't able to finish a book until I:
- Had lived long enough to have something to write about. I tried for 15 years to finish a book, but was unable until in my twenties. I think I needed to experience enough and have a certain maturity to be able to look at story with perspective.
- Learned to make and keep daily writing goals. Until I decided, I'm writing this many words or pages each day until I'm done, no matter what, I was never able to finish any stories of any length.
- Accepted a lousy first draft. Once I really understood that I was never, ever going to write something wonderful on the first draft, I gave myself permission to write a bad draft and found writer's block didn't haunt me in the same way. Remember, it's true for most writers that rewriting is easier than writing a first draft, so the goal is to get that sucker out.
- Discovered my own writing process. Do you outline with obsessive detail? Do you discover the story as you go? Do you write the story linearly always or do you jump around to any scene that appeals to you at the moment? Once you know your own writing process, getting through your book will be easier. But, in order to discover that process, you have to WRITE. A lot.
Try to have fun with your story. Try to enjoy the writing process. Turn off any thoughts of publication and just find your story. I think that's the best advice I can give.