“How Do I Finish My Book?”

Answering one of the top most-asked questions I get.

Writing a book can feel like an insurmountable obstacle. A mountain of work piled directly in front of you.

You’ve started writing, but now you’re stuck. What should you do?

The answer is that you break it down into manageable steps.

Here are 4 steps to finish your book and change your mindset about it.

First, if you don’t already have one, stop where you are and put together an outline. Having an outline helps you not get writers block, always know where you are and what’s happening next in the story, keeps you focused, and gives you a snapshot of the whole book.

Second, put writing time into your schedule. Make writing a habit. Even half an hour a day every 3rd day. An hour every other day. Whatever it is, put it down into your calendar. After about 2–3 weeks of it, it will become a habit.

Third, focus on one chapter at a time. If it helps, think of it as a short form writing, like a blog post. Think about the topic/plot for that specific chapter and just start writing.

Fourth, have a general idea of length. If your book is going to be around 50,000 words, then you always know how much you’ve written and how much more you generally plan to write. Use word count as a general guideline, not as a a hard stop. Don’t force yourself to keep writing if the story is done at 47,000 words. Don’t stop early if you aren’t quite done at 50,000. Just as a general guideline.

This guide from The Write Life has a great list for word counts by genre.

The following are average word-count ranges per genre.

General

  • Flash Fiction: 300–1500 words
  • Short Story: 1500–30,000 words
  • Novellas: 30,000–50,000 words
  • Novels: 50,000–110,000 words

Fiction

  • Mainstream Romance: 70,000–100,000 words
  • Subgenre Romance: 40,000–100,000 words
  • Science Fiction / Fantasy: 90,000–120,000 (and sometimes 150,000) words
  • Historical Fiction: 80,000–100,000
  • Thrillers / Horror / Mysteries / Crime: 70,000–90,000 words
  • Young Adult: 50,000–80,000

Children’s Books

  • Picture Books: 300–800 words
  • Early Readers: 200–3500 words
  • Chapter Books: 4000–10,000 words
  • Middle Grade: 25,000–40,000 words

Nonfiction

  • Standard Nonfiction (Business, Political Science, Psychology, History, etc.): 70,000–80,000 words
  • Memoir: 80,000–100,000 words
  • Biography: 80,000–200,000 words
  • How-to/Self-Help: 40,000–50,000 words

Hope this helps you finish that book you’ve been working on!

If you find that you need help, having a writing/book coach, a great editor, or even a ghostwriter are great options to really get your book to where you need it to be without losing your tone, your story, or more time!

Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” & “Concept to Conclusion.” jyssicaschwartz.com

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