Advice for Writers: Polishing Off Your Work in Progress

Advice for Writers: Polishing Off Your Work in Progress

There’s absolutely no shame in admitting that you are sick. to. death. of your current work in progress. You can’t stand the characters you’ve created anymore. The genius plot twist you crafted up months (maybe years!) ago now induces endless eye rolls from you. You might be considering why you even thought you could write this book in the first place.

Well, in case you need a reminder, it’s because you’re a wordsmith prodigy full of creative, untold tales; but, also, you started this journey because of an idea and a passion, so it deserves to be followed through. We’re all allowed to have a pout when times get hard, but, eventually, you’re going to need to go back to that blinking cursor on your Word document. So, when you’re ready to face it, here are our tips for how to crank out the rest of your work in progress, and make it sparkling enough for you to send it out into the world.

Forget about it

We don’t mean forever, of course, but it can be helpful to just put it out of your mind. Whether you say indefinitely, or place yourself in a time-out of a few weeks, stop your mind from its constant plotting and planning. Think up a different story. Don’t think about writing at all. We all need a vacation from our job every now and then, and that includes writers, too. At the end of the day, there’s nothing worse than forcing it — you’ll know you have, and readers can pick up on that, too.

Skip ahead

Maybe you’re in a rut because you’ve gotten stuck on one event or one character. You don’t have to write your story scene by scene. It might be useful for you think ahead — to a future moment, to the ending, or, hell, maybe even to the sequel! Shaping where your story ends up can help you refine how you plan to get there. By the time you’ve drafted up that future scene, you’ll have loads of ideas for how to bridge the gap and get your manuscript finished.

Go beyond

Why not try sending your characters outside their comfort zone. What if they lived in a different place? What if their desires did a complete 180? What if they went out on a completely unrelated adventure of their own? Writing a little side story with your current work in progress’s people is a great way to flesh out their personalities, but it will also reinvigorate your passion for their stories. While it might seem like a distraction, it’s actually a great way to take some space from your WIP to find a little inspiration — you might even find that it can be incorporated to your story after all!

Focus in

Maybe you’re stuck because you’re feeling the immense weight of writing an entire book pressing down on you? No one needs that. Rather than thinking big picture, downsize your mindset to one itty bitty little problem. Edit one paragraph. Draft one scene. Set a timer so that you don’t get bogged down in it. If, when the timer goes off, you’re still not feeling inspired, feel free to step away and try again later. You may just walk away from your intense focus with a few new ideas, though.

Find a deadline

There’s nothing like a time crunch to get something ticked off your to-do list. Research some upcoming writing competitions. Find an agent or publisher whose submissions inbox is only going to be open for a limited time. No matter what you choose, having an end date to work toward is one of the best ways to put some pep in your step — some of the best ideas were born under a bit of pressure.

Set boundaries

Writing a book, when you’re looking at the big picture, can seem like an insurmountable task. How is it possible to write that many words? And make them all good? The best way to get something major accomplished is to set yourself some boundaries. Decide at the beginning of the day how much time you want to dedicate to writing. Or, if time isn’t your issue, pick a word goal to reach. By setting smaller tasks to accomplish day by day, you’ll feel less daunted by the end result, which may have been preventing you from picking up the pen. After all, you can do anything for 20 minutes, right?


As always, thank you for reading, and be sure to tweet us @AgoraBooksLDN with how you find the inspiration to finish your works in progress!