Really excellent advice for finishing a book

Chuck Wendig (previously) celebrates the release of his latest novel Invasive with 25 extremely good pieces of advice for people trying to finish a novel.

A lot of his advice revolves around letting go of the idea that you can tell whether you're doing good writing at the time that you're doing it (this is one of my favorite writing tips) — and to commit to writing small amounts, regularly, like a page a day, finishing mid-sentence so it's easy to pick up the next day (another of my favorite tips).

He reiterates the advice I got from Damon Knight in 1992: Skip the boring parts ("Skip it. Grow wings and fly above it. Hurry past the stupid stuff and get right to the exciting parts") and demands that you forgive yourself for your anxiety and misery, which is such good advice and applies to every field of endeavor, not just writing.

21. Fuck the fucking market. The market is unknowable. It is a cipher. Those who tell you what the market wants are not telling you what the market wants — they are interpreting the market the way an oracle interprets monkey guts. You're better off writing what you love and writing it as well as you can, and hoping that the market will bear whatever it is. And hey, if you're wrong, you're wrong. But at least you wrote what you wanted. At least you mashed your heart onto the page and didn't fail trying to second-guess what some cryptic industry wants from you.

22. Take controlled breaks. I write for 45-60 minutes and then tend to fuck off for 15 minutes. I time it. If I don't time it, those 15 minutes will become three hours and then I'll wonder why the sun is going down and why is my son graduating college and WHY ARE MY OSSIFIED BONES ERODING IN THIS MARTIAN WIND and whoa how did I get on Mars, I was supposed to be writing a book? Whatever. Take your breaks. Do things during these breaks that make you happy and avoid things that make you unhappy. If Facebook makes you unhappy, stop fucking looking at it. Delete it. Explode it. If looking at pictures of dinosaurs makes you happy, look at pictures of dinosaurs. I dunno. Masturbate. Eat a snack. Stare out the window. Then get back to work.

23. Reward yourself. Not just with breaks but with more happiness. Finish a day's worth of writing? That's worth something. I dunno that it's worth like, a new car or a vacation, but it's worth a piece of chocolate or something. Listen, we're basically dogs, okay? We don't do well with negative reinforcement, because then we learn to fear and hate the task even as we perform it. But we do hella well with positive reinforcement. Hack your dog-brain. Give yourself a treat, damnit. You deserve it, you cheeky poodle, you.


(via Kadrey)