Mantras, Mindset & 7 Secrets You Need To Finish Your Book

Mantra MindsetIf you’re a creative person, then at some point you’ll meet my little bitch of a friend self-doubt. Meeting her is as inherent as the need to play God and cackle as you kill another darling.

Self-doubt really is the queen bee of inefficiency, procrastination and pointlessness. Frankly, she makes Trump seem useful… did I? Lets move on before I offend anyone with something more than just my potty mouth.

I’ve talked about self-doubt before and given four suggestions to beat it. But like anything, as you grow and develop as a writer, you find new tricks to make you better and more efficient.

Writing is always likened to running a marathon. It’s great analogy because personally, I’ve well and truly hit the 18 mile wall. But even if I have to chew my kneecaps off in a bid to keep my arse in the proverbial chair, I will hand my sodding book-baby to beta readers on 30th September. But fuck me, the universe is not making it easy.

So here are some awesome techniques I’ve been using that you can implement to get you and your book to completion without having to gnaw body parts off.

SECRET 1 – Goal set and work backwards

I’ll get the obvious two out the way. I know it’s an age old concept, setting goals, but seriously kids… If you don’t set yourself a clear goal, with a clear deadline, how in the shittle sticks do you know what you need to achieve between now and d-day?

I set a deadline of 30th September. That means (from the date I set it) I have until 15th August to finish re-drafting. As I write this I have 47,000 words near enough completed. That means I need to write 25k (plus/minus 10k – I am not setting a strict word count the story ends when it ends) between now and the 15th, thats 3 weeks. An average of 5-8000 words a week. Not an easy task, but one I can do with a bit of reprioritising. (No social life, fuck loads of coffee and no sleep. Easy. *ahem*)

I need to edit said 25k during the last two weeks of August and then do a full (final) read through during the first two weeks of Sept – giving me 2 weeks slippage time.

That’s lot of mini deadlines to meet. If I hadn’t set a clear goal with deadlines I wouldn’t know what I was doing or when it needed doing by. And shit would slip into I’ll just watch another episode of blah blah and do it at five past never-never.

FullSizeRender 3SECRET 2 – Track Progress

Okay, you’re either going to love this or hate it. It works for me, but it ain’t going to tickle everyone’s tummy fluff.

Even if this doesn’t work for you, find another way. There’s no point setting goals if you aren’t going to monitor progress towards them.

A few weeks ago, I had a geek out moment that would put Stephen Hawking to shame. After a minor meltdown on the phone to Suzie, I realised I needed to track progress, with pretty glitter and colour changing boxes. With a bit of conditional formatting, I made a spreadsheet, with among other things, boxes that change according to the number of words I write per week. As you can see, last week was green, yay me. This week as yet, is amber… clearly I need to stop fucking about on wordpress and crack my own self-flaggelating whip.

SECRET 3 – Accountability Partner

giphy

Expect this face! (image from gify.com)

I stole this from a podcast. But in essence, you don your most pretentious writing cap and duly request the assistance of a fellow writer. One, you don’t mind calling you out on your bullshit.

Allie Potts, is mine.

There are two kinds of accountability partner. I suggest you find one that best suits your needs:

A) The softly-softly, stroke my hair and whisper me sweet sonnets for encouragement.

or

B) The no bullshit, no fucking about, drop and give me twenty for missing your target, bitch.

I’ll let you take a guess which one I am.

How does it work? Set your goals, set a deadline and then demand results. Communicate about twice a week demanding updates. If progress isn’t satisfactory, you better make damn sure you have a good reason.

The other handy thing is, when you set a goal, they then push you to achieve even more, by say, making you up your target by 10%… oh and they expect you to deliver!

SECRET 4 Stop asking everyone else

photo from unsplash

photo from unsplash

No one gives a shit about your book. They’re all too busy trying to write their own books. (Okay, not quite true. Writerly friends do care, but the point’s valid).

Every time you seek reassurance from someone else, you’re subconsciously telling yourself  you’re not good enough.

Stop it. It’s really annoying. As annoying as the guy at work that plays an operatic symphony every lunch using only his teeth, tongue and three day old spag bol.

SECRET 5 – Writing Tribe

Okay, now ignore what I just said because ultimately everyone needs a bitch now and then. I have a message group with two writers. Three seems to be the magic number because when there’s three, one is always having a good day. When someone  is down, there’s two others to perk you up, or tell you shut the fuck up. Whatever’s needed!

It’s also supremely motivational. When you scroll through the messages and see that your writing buds have written 6000 words and 800 blog posts you soon pull your finger out. Suzie has a great post on tribes, here.

SECRET 6 Ask yourself if your self-doubt is realistic?

Have you done something similar in a competent way before? If so, you know that you’re being a pissy little bitch and need to hush your gums.

If you’re doubting yourself because you’re about to do something new, ask yourself why you’re doing it?

Is it because you’re a writer and need to push yourself out your comfort zone? Are you doing it for family, love or friends? Or are you doing it because it will help you achieve your goal? If any of the above are true, stop doubting and get the fuck on with it.

When is self doubt okay? Feel free to doubt yourself when you’re standing on the precipice of a 1000ft drop off a sheer cliff face into a bed of volcanic lava and poisonous snake venom. If it’s even remotely related to your book, pick up your fucking pen up and stop whining.

SECRET 7 Mantras & Affirmation

Miracle mornings are all the rage at the moment. Wake up earlier, do a bunch of positive

Taken by me in Nepal

Taken by me in Nepal

shit, and feel good. For me, the finger of God herself couldn’t get me up an hour earlier. I have been a night owl from the moment daddies sperm hit mummies egg an I popped into miraculous existence.

But – the point is a good one.

Every time I complete another day in work, its a bloody miracle. A miracle that I acknowledge and thank the universe for at 4pm on the dot. There will come a day when I live the dream and can write all day everyday, but until then I will stick with my mantras and affirmations.

There is one other daily affirmation that I make. Every time I look in the mirror, (and I do mean every time) whether it be, while painting my eyebrows on in the morning, or washing my hands after a wee, I affirm my goal.

I tell myself that one day, I will sell enough books that I can quit the grind and write full time. I tell myself that I know this is true, because I will make it so. 


What do you do when you hit the novel wall? How do you smash it down and complete a book? Let me know in the comments below.


If you want the latest writing tips, and publishing news, why not sign up to have them delivered straight to your mailbox. Sign up here.

funny 2sign up

101 comments

  1. This was just what I needed this morning, as I am in the middle of a colossal rant myself. I even have a list! You have such a lovely way with words, my rants are no where near as eloquent!

    Like

    1. Glad I could help. I mostly write these as a bit of a shout at myself! So I am always pleased to hear they help other people. AND LOL. Sometimes, I do wonder if I have ever offended someone with my potty mouth, and then I realise I couldn’t change if I wanted to. You should meet me in person – JUST as fouler mouth! :p

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Soft sobs of crippling doubt caught my ear
        I asked you then what was the matter
        What was its cause? I asked with nervous fear
        Your work? Your writing? You answered the latter
        I railed against the high cost of travel fare
        You are talented. I tried to repeat
        Do not give up or listen to this scare
        I think you left to find something to eat
        After a pause, you thanked me for caring
        I don’t think I will meet my goals this week
        Sigh, you replied. Your confidence, ill-faring
        I could hardly believe what I’d heard you speak
        Clearly, poetry and soft strokes of praise just weren’t your quirk.
        So I simply replied, suck it up princess and get back to work.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Sacha another great post. This one is a personal fav, as I meet Lady bloody self doubt every day, usually around 5pm. So from now on it`s on with the mantras for me and Lady SD can go **** herself.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Writing tribes are awesome. My editor is good at cracking the whip and making me just get on with it. I highly recommend them!

    You can also use personality traits in your favour. I hate having things outstanding or hanging over me like the Sword of Damocles so I have to get stuff done to stop myself getting antsy. So my control freak side pretty much gives my dilly-dallying “Aw but I REALLY wanted to faff about with CSS a bit more!” side a good talking to!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha yep I don’t know if u know about Myers Briggs but I’m an ENTJ, and my TJ doesn’t take any bullshit from my N. Basically forces me to finish tasks and be organised in doing it. Hence the spreadsheet!

      Like

    2. I guess you can tell that I don’t blog. I have never heard the term “tribe” in relation to a blog. In some places her in the US, that would be offensive, actually. I know I would never use it.
      Other than that, I’m going to have to read more about it, because I’m not sure I get the concept. Is this a group of your blog readers, or other bloggers?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Kathleen, ahh it’s just a friendly term really. In the sense it’s being used, it’s just made up and not meant to be offensive at all. I guess it’s just a group of bloggers (or writers for that matter) who hit it off. My ‘tribe’ is just a group of three of us that have a chat messaging group external to the blog. We chat most days and encourage each other, or scald each other (in a friendly encouraging way) if say, we procrastinate instead of focusing. Its just a group to share worries and self doubts and to encourage each other on with writing. I hope that makes more sense?

        Like

      2. Sasha, here in the States, some Native American Indian tribes protest any use of terms related to their culture used in non-Indian way. For example, sports team (Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, etc.) That’s why I said it might be considered offensive to some people who would say it isn’t politically correct.

        On another topic…why is it that I can reply to a comment in your blog through email, but I can’t go to your site and enter a comment? When I try, WordPress requires that I register and create my own blog which I don’t want to do at this time.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m not sure, I think that might have something to do with wordpress. I suspect if you come to the website on a computer rather than through another device it might work because I do have non blogging writers comment without needing to set up a blog.

        Like

    1. Hehe thanks Tricia 🙂 I hope the spreadsheet helps I thought I wouldn’t use it but actually it’s been really helpful to see the words tot up and also the breakdown of whether they are book words or blog words

      Like

  4. I feel like you’re my snarkier, younger, smarter sister that happens to be English and knows more than I do about everything. I particularly love the tribe/accountability partner bit here. I need that. And some chocolate milk.

    Like

    1. haha, I am honoured to be said sibling! I am 100% sarcasm… actually 80% sarcasm, 20% coffee. Have you found an accountability partner? Let me know when you do. I wana hear how it goes 😀

      Like

  5. Great post with lots of useful tips and plenty of swearing, which immediately raises it above most of the competition. My new mantra will be to read your blog posts regularly…

    Like

  6. I know that little friend called self doubt well. It whispers inside my head often, but I think of it as a demon, my worst friend, a bastard, the son of a devil.

    When I was younger, its voice was so much louder and sometimes it won and I’d stop writing for months at a time, missing the words that flowed from my finger tips through the keyboard. Now when it whisperers, I shut it out. Sometimes it’s gone for weeks, months, and I wonder where it went and who it was tormenting instead of me.

    And then I think that my self doubt is an untrustworthy, back stabbing, lying cheat, and it left because it got tired of not having its way with me. It’s probably hounding Donald Trump right now, and he’s shouting at it to get out of his head. It must have heard me when I told it to go fill him with doubt until he goes insane, but it’s too late because he’s already nuts and wants to destroy the world and all life on it. My self doubt better work harder on him before it is too late.

    Like

    1. It’s certainly the son of the devil that’s for sure!!

      It’s nice to hear that you have beaten it, if only for periods of time. At the moment, the closer I get to finishing my book, the more it seems to rear its ugly head.

      Lol to Trump – could you hurry up with that one?! :p

      Like

  7. Allie is awesome and this sounds fab and all but how do you go about getting an “Accountability Partner”?
    I still have pockets of self doubt but I’m not sure the boot camp approach is right for me. Sometimes I could use it, other times I can’t write. (I know…you hate that word and I’ve already written about excuses vs reasons.) But kids, health… I suppose I could push but is losing one day of writing worth the fallout that could occur? No. Because then I will miss a week or more of writing. I do love the goals and I’m going to try that. I just don’t think I will be as hard on myself if I don’t make them. Which is why you will finish your book before me. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Umm… I think I messaged her and said “D’ya wana be my accountability partner” and followed it up with a bit of explanation about what that was!

      The boot won’t be right for everyone, but it is about committing. And if you commit to something then you have to deliver it. It’s like making a promise. You can go back on one for the right reason, but it had better be a good one, because promises mean something.

      We set monthly goals. So, it’s less about having to write on this day or that day, and just working with the compound effect. There are 30 days in a month, 300 words a day is 9000 words a month and over a year its 108,000. That’s a book. Each person sets goals that they can achieve. It’s up to that person to set them. Allie and I only up it by 10% for each other because that works for us. But that’s kind of the thing, you have to find someone that works in a similar way to you, so that you know they will give you what you need when you need it, whether that be a push, or a pull or a cuddle. Let me know if you find someone. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Not every day is boot camp. Both of us have young kids, spouses that seem to think they are entitled to the occasional attention and mysterious illness that crop up especially whenever a deadline is approaching. Somedays we need cuddles too (whoops, strike that. Sacha, of course, eats goals for breakfast with a side of grit and not the Southern US kind). We just are responsible for ensuring the other doesn’t give up at the end of the day.

      And yeah, all she had to do was ask. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Judy, I just have to figure out how to get it to make graphs now! :p lol. Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, I will publish next year. For the sake of my sanity, I had better do.

      Like

  8. Well, I’m bat shit crazy so if I hit a wall I summon forth one of my characters and they remind me I’m not going to live forever so I better sit my butt in the chair and let er rip.

    Like

  9. That was very encouraging again, Sacha! I started translating my last manuscript in March…. and I stopped in March after 7 pages because the priorities changed. I fully agree with all of your points, most of all with setting goals and deadlines and also displaying the progress! I do this basically with all my projects or tasks. It is a great feeling and very motivating to see how you achieving something step by step!

    Like

    1. Hey Erika, sorry for the delay, ahh priorities are always a difficult one. See I agree with setting them and if they change, well we have to deal with that, and go with the flow of the change. Ahh thank you – some days I get very disheartened, but I know that if I just keep going, day by day, eventually I WILL get there 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think what is really important is that we don’t lose our plans and goals out of sight. Because life happens too and we need to adjust around it! You will get there for sure 😉

        Like

      2. Well that’s the truth. But I also think we shouldn’t let life dictate the achievement or timing of our goals. If you want it, go for it, shove everything else out the way. (not the important family bits though obvs!)

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Absolutely fantabulous! I love your determination and your explicit choice of words for emphasis, lol. There is no doubt you have to be accountable to yourself. Whether you choose a tribe to kick your ass in gear or are relentless on sticking to self-imposed deadlines (like me), it must be done to keep moving. Welcome to the world of authordom! We have to have schedules for writing and publishing. You can’t very well think, ‘I’m finished, I’ll just dial up my editor who surely has nothing else to do but wait for my call that my next book is ready for her pronto!’ And the same goes for booking slots in with my formatter, printer and graphic artist. You have to know what you must accomplish by schedule to inform these people and book dates with them when your work will be ready for them. Or, one can just drift along and wait for openings when they get to those stages and notice another year has gone by. It’s up to us and I’m so glad to hear that you’re feeling the pain with us, lol. xoxoxo

    Like

    1. Haha, I literally write these non-fic type posts exactly as I speak! you wait till you meet me, it will be the bluest conversation ever! :p

      I think I am a bit of a hybrid. I like the social aspect of having an accountability partner/tribe, I guess because although a bit introverted at times, I am an extroverted thinker and need people around me. But I also hold myself to the highest accountability possible. Like if I miss this 30th Sept deadline, by god I actually don’t know what I will do with myself. I won’t miss it. I won’t allow that to happen!

      That’s a good point on the editor though and book covers… I might have to start saving and then book things!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Always glad to share helpful suggestions Sach. And no – You Won’t miss your deadline, because you are Sacha – Fierce, LOL xo 🙂

        Like

  11. I really like the accountability partner, Sacha. Being part of a writer’s group did that for me, but having one person to keep you on track works just as well. Allie is an awesome writer (and funny woman). I can see why you hit it off. 🙂 Great post.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. They are all great points (especially Number 4), but if you really do want to get something done and stop blaming it on self-doubt, then something has to give. I often refused to believe there were only 24 hours in a day and thought I was some kind of Super Gay Hero (I believe I may have been the first) and then I hit a wall on one of my flights and knocked some serious sense into my head. I set a publication date for my book and worked backwards from it with a clear plan of what and when I was going to do. So far, so good and, even with the biggest bout of ‘I must publish a blog post today’ fever, I’ve made myself very proud by refusing to give in and to get on with my plan. Yes, it’s tough, but I keep telling myself that I am making one of my two dreams I’ve had since I was 4-years old, come true. When I look back at what I’ve achieved in the four weeks I am truly shocked (in a nice way), but also very proud that I’m doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure I blame self doubt for not doing stuff. Although Steven Pressfield’s famous book the War of Art calls it ‘resistance’ and says that everything that isnt completing your goal is resistance and I think he argues that it comes from self doubt. But for me, I usually put it down to procrastination or prioritising the wrong thing.

      I think we’re all shocked and extremely proud of you Hugh. You are like the ultimate blogger and you dropped it all in favour of finishing your book. you are a super gay hero, an inspirational one.

      Like

      1. Well, that’s lovely of you to say, thank you, Sacha.

        However, for me, self-doubt has always stopped me doing many things in my life. However, since I started to blog (and write) I’ve gained a lot more confidence in myself, but part of that is also thanks to the people on here who have and continue to support me. Without my Blogging community (and those of other bloggers) I’d still be living with a self-doubt that was more than 75% of me. Now, that feels like it’s down to less 10% of me. I still find it very difficult to ask people for help, but I’m even starting to get over that.

        Like

  13. Excellent suggestions. Like most, I was not born rich and therefore–per terms of continued matrimonial bliss–work for a living. So, I write in snatches/grabs and it’s easy to say “but, but, but, I can’t schedule or be held accountable or dance the Watusi.” Okay, the last one is just me, point is without a goal/plan/deadline, you’re just, um, getting really friendly with yourself. Thanks for sharing your tools, Sis. I’m putting one of those spreadsheet thingies together this weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t we all! I am all about the snatches and grabs of any and all time I can get my hands on. I hope you find the spreadsheet helpful – I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but it did for me.

      Like

  14. Pingback: kesuvulu
  15. I found this on a poster last year and it’s taped to the wall above my computer as my writing mantra:

    DISCIPLINE is just choosing between what you want NOW and what you want MOST.

    I don’t know where it came from, but every time I read it, I remind myself that I have to keep writing to finish what I started. I want a finished book one day, not a dozen half-written WIPS.

    Like

  16. Excellent post! I know your bitch friend well, although I tried to block her. I’m big on goals and my goals tend to be huge, so working backwards to set smaller steps is so useful. Good luck with your September 30 deadline. I hope you still have kneecaps by then!

    Like

    1. Hi Charli, I am sorry I haven’t been around much. I have had my head down and tried to prioritise the book, which after much shuffling and cutting back, has finally worked and I am almost on the home stretch. Fingers crossed I make the deadline. EVERY week I get the carrot ranch emails and think I must do it this week. And then another week drifts past. UGH. The Firmament isn’t going away though, so I must make the effort to explore it in your prompts. I stopped because I had an epiphany and decided to take it in a slightly different direction, so have paused for research. I’m not going to promise to come back immediately. But I will as soon as Keepers is in the hands of others.

      Like

  17. I know I’m late to the party, Sacha, but I will say this – every word of this post is true true true! Writing tribes are the best, and you WILL get that book done and out there, I know it! Hope it’s still going well xx

    Like

      1. It is, now that Camp NaNo is over – Silver and Black is resting, A Thousand Rooms is about to have its final edit, and I just have a bit of a structure issue to sort with Under Stone, my fourth Ambeth book. So, writing wise I’m busy! Life wise, all is good, thank you, hope it is with you too x

        Liked by 1 person

      2. ahh I still need to read A Thousand rooms, but I think I will wait now, given how close you are to completing it.

        I hope to send my book to beta readers by 30th Sept I think. Fingers crossed anyway. We’re up in scotland this week, so not getting much by way of blog time. Wifi is properly intermittent!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh well, enjoy yourself – I hope you’re up there for a nice holiday 🙂 And if you’d like the edited version of ATR once it’s done I can swing it your way… or you can wait for Silver and Black ;-D

        Like

      4. Thanks, Sacha – I sent you ATR, didn’t I? It will be out before Silver & Black – still have a bit of work to do on that one. I feel like I need to drip feed you what I have at the moment! 😀

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s