I was asked this on Tumblr:
I find that I start and stop a lot of my stories, and sometimes never come back to them. How do I keep myself motivated to finish at least one?
and here is my long overdue answer!
- Find what or who you love about the story. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I don’t continue with a story, it’s because I’m bored. And that kills my motivation so much I don’t finish what I start, even if I’m just a sentence away from the end. Whenever this occurs, I ask myself what I love about the story more than anything else. Is it one character in particular? Is it a scene or piece of dialogue? I’ve never been in love with a real human being, but I have been in love with my characters. That’s usually enough to get me to finish. It’s unfair to my characters and myself if I don’t.
- Make a friend keep you accountable. This works if you have an awesome friend who will nag you about your writing. It doesn’t work so well if they aren’t as awesome and care less than you. All I can say is pick wisely. If you don’t have anyone awesome around, go out and befriend another writer. Your accountability partner doesn’t have to be a writer, though let’s face it, why wouldn’t you want to be friends with one?
- Punish yourself. Might not the best way to keep yourself motivated. Then again consequences could be what you need to finish your story. Maybe you’ll hold out on buying a book you’ve been eyeing. Or you’ll fork over a couple dollars to your brother or sister for every story that goes unfinished. Think of giving your sibling money despite being beyond broke. Now finishing that piece doesn’t sound so bad, does it? I will warn you beforehand: it takes a lot of discipline to follow through on a punishment.
- Set deadlines. Treat writing like a real job rather than a hobby. Do be reasonable with your deadlines. A week, a month, maybe half a year depending on the length of your story and your current lifestyle. Work out a schedule. How many words do you need to write a day to meet your goal? How many pages will you edit each week to make the date you set out? It’s okay to stray from your schedule every once in a while but try to make up for it as quickly as you can. Otherwise, it’s a downhill battle fraught with late nights, long days, and loud screams.
- Publish your story. If there’s one thing my WordPress blog is good for, it’s getting me to actually finish stuff. WordPress, WattPad, whatever platform works for you. Knowing you need to publish said story means you sort of need to finish it. Unless you’re the kind of writer to publish something unfinished. Don’t be that kind of writer.
I posted 5 more tips on my Tumblr blog, which you can find here, if you aren’t sick of my advice yet.