Finishing a Novel Despite Self-Doubt

Dear Xena…

Stop trying to motivate yourself to finish a novel and instead motivate yourself to finish your story. “Complete a novel” is a task to check off a list. Bleh. A story, though, that’s something you can get jazzed about. A story has characters you grow to care about, and problems that threaten them, and relationships that make them laugh, cry, mourn. You continue writing a story because you want to see how your fictional friends’ lives work out. Try writing with the aim of discovering just a little more about your characters each day. Eventually you’ll know what happens to them and can type “The End.” Story (and novel) accomplished.

Happy writing!

The Editor



  1. Oh Deborah, This is exactly what I needed this stuck morning when I’m wanting to throw in the towel– a way to go on, “writing with the aim of discovering just a little more about your characters each day”. Deep thanks.

  2. Wow…its all laid out here…
    when you take baby steps…
    you get to~
    stop and smell the roses…
    which helps you~
    cross that bridge when you come to it…that way you can ~count your blessings, when
    you have given them enough time to hatch…
    excellent motivation to carry on! Thankx

  3. What I do for my first draft is send my internal editor on vacation. Have fun exploring the story, the characters, and the setting the characters are moving around in. Don’t worry about it being good right now. That comes with revision. After the first draft is done, then you can let your internal editor back in the country.

    • That’s my personal battle, Traci: silencing the internal editor. Because I AM an editor? Maybe. Regardless, I have to consciously remind myself to explore, explore, explore.

      • Remember or look up the book by Anne Lamott, “Bird by Bird” as well. I have come to the end of a long ya novel, with the help of that message, But I like “The Editor’s” approach even more: to trust and discover. In my world, self doubt is a constant, but inspiration is as well. Quite an interior battle which I have not won but continue to fight. Best hope to all. Seabreeze.

  4. As with what others said, just take it slowly, a bit at a time. And once you’ve written tons, you won’t be stress out about “How can I possibly write an entire book?” Instead, you’ll be stressed out about “How do I know when I’ve finished?” 🙂

  5. While I have been writing picture books for some time, I have only recently embarked upon writing a YA novel. It is scary and daunting, and there are many times when I doubt that the novel will be worth anything. But, the truth is I care about my main character and her story. And because I care, I have faith in her and myself. So, care about what you write and write what you care about. Then have faith that the story will come together and that you will finish it!

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