Writers are naturally flighty creatures. Our imaginations are always running wild and our dreams insist on being filled with new ideas. Temptation surrounds us all the time, trying to seduce us towards yet another story. Focusing on one project, and staying committed to it, can truly be a difficult task.
Difficult, yes. Impossible...of course not. In order to focus, you’re going to need passion, personal drive, and positive peer pressure. Let’s take a deeper look into each of the keys to commitment.
Chances are that you love writing. It’s already a passion of yours, which is fantastic. Now it’s time to refine and redirect that passion towards a specific idea/project/story. The following tips should make you feel excited about your idea and help guide towards long-term commitment.
Write what you love. If you’re writing a book because you think the market will love it, and you’ll make a ton of money from it, then...re-evaluate. If you’re writing in a genre you don’t like, but seems popular right now...re-evaluate. Not loving what you’re writing is definitely going to make you want to jump ship and swim far, far away from it. However, if you write what you want, you’ll be a lot more motivated. The greatest advice I can ever give is “write the book you’ve always wanted to read''.
Incorporate your interests. For example, I’m fascinated by the Venetian Carnevale, rare books, and pirates, so I made sure to include these things in my story. It’s both challenging and fun, but more importantly, writing about these things keeps me interested. If I know that Act II of my novel will take place on a pirate ship, it makes me eager to continue writing in order to reach that point. In other words, reward yourself with your own interests.
Experiment. Play around with different genres. Maybe you love the plot of your book, but the setting just isn’t working. Instead of scrapping the whole idea, turn it from a Western into a space opera. Or make it a Western-inspired space opera. It doesn’t matter if you’re conceptualizing, drafting, or editing...the world of writing is your oyster. Having fun and discovering new things along the way is a great motivator.
Take a moment and think about what you want to accomplish as a writer.
If you only write as a side hobby, then perhaps going from project to project is fine. (Though the high of finishing a novel is something everyone deserves.) If you want to become a world-renown author, then it might be time to crack down and finish something. You absolutely can do it. It doesn’t need to be the most beautiful thing ever written. Just find your motivation, craft some sort of goal to drive yourself forward, and don’t stop until you cross that finish line.
The idea of personal drive is not to tell you “oh, you must finish this project because it has to be your debut novel and nothing else can get in my way.” It’s more like a gentle push towards finishing something, that perhaps could one day be more. Your first finished product doesn’t have to be your great masterpiece, but it will get you into the rhythm of completing something that could be.
Positive peer pressure is amazing. My suggestion is to find a couple buddies, whether in real life or online, that will support your story and encourage you to keep going. If someone besides yourself is invested, that will put a great kind of pressure on you. There’s nothing more motivating than people wanting to know more about your book, watching them fall in love with your characters, or demanding more chapters. (Thanks to my lovely friends who’ve done all this for me. I would have given up long ago if it weren’t for them.)
If you’re scared of no one wanting to engage, I’ll be your cheerleader. The writing community is full of wonderful people who I’m sure will also be dying to cheer you on. Community is so important in this field and if your book finds it, you’ll feel a lot more connected to that story and determined to keep up with it.
You can do this. You can finish whatever you want to finish. Don’t be afraid to set aside projects, but also don’t be afraid of seeing them through. Finding the right idea is a tricky journey, but it’s often worth it in the end. I wish you the best of luck in all your writing endeavors!
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