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Editors note: This post was originally published in November 2022 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

As the end of the year approaches, the most organized amongst us will already be planning our writing process and smart goals for 2024.

Whether you’re aiming to finish a first draft on a book idea you've had for years or halfway through your first novel, the writing journey is rarely straight forward. In fact, the whole process can be so challenging, that many writers fail at the first hurdle and that is finishing the damn thing. Many writers dream of literary agents and a book deal but only 3% of people who want to write a book actually finish - that means 97% of have an idea for a book but are still staring at a blank page. In fact, I know several writers with a great idea that could lead to writing a great book, but time limits, writer's block and a lack of supportive community (not to mention all the work and family commitments many of us have) often get in the way. With a brand new year, just around the corner, January can be an ideal time to recommit to your writing sessions.

But why wait? If you're looking to unlock success in 2024, here are 5 ways to finally finish your book next year

1. Prepare your environment (external and internal!)

Take a look at your writing space. (And if you don’t have one, then learn more about creating one here.) Is it clean and tidy or covered in papers, toys, and generally a bit of a dumping ground?

You are a reflection of your surroundings so ensure that you have a space that’s set up for your needs. It doesn’t have to be large, even just a corner of your home will do. The best way to overcome the challenge of starting is to create an environment you actually want to be in.

As James Clear says in his best-selling book, Atomic Habits:

'Motivation is overrated -

environment matters more.'

The same goes for your internal environment.

What are you telling yourself about writing a book?

If you’re telling yourself it’s too hard, or I don’t have the time, then it’s going to be a struggle. But if you tell yourself, I can do this, or I’m excited about being creative, or I’m so lucky I have the opportunity and the skill to write, then you will find it much easier and more enjoyable.

2. Find a critique partner or writing group

One of the biggest challenges for new writers is working in isolation – i.e., not having anyone to bounce ideas off. A critique partner or writing group can help in multiple ways by adding a fun social element, being able to discuss and share your work, and having someone hold you accountable. By doing the research now, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running in January.

When I lived in Dubai, I had a writing partner who I met in a coffee shop once a week and we both worked on our own manuscripts. It definitely helped my daily word count goal and having someone to talk through story ideas with was invaluable.

Many writers also use a community and / or partner to discuss a potential book title, an initial idea for a future book, possible plot holes, and to find beta readers. Action scene not working? Discuss it with your group. Curious about a writing in a different genre? Someone will know someone who you can chat to. Social media can be a great way to find online writing groups where you can connect with other aspiring authors to share ideas or ask for feedback. Feel free to join my Facebook group for writers and readers where you can connect with both aspiring and published authors and avid readers eager to discover new talent.

3. Sign up for a writing course

Whenever I have the opportunity and time, I will sign up for writing classes, online courses, or author event because I know I will always come away with more knowledge about the craft.

There are many writing courses available; some are more specific focusing on the specific elements of story-telling such as main character, plot twists, or character development and others are more of an overview covering the various stages of writing a book such as my own course, Kick Start Your Book With Karen – an 8-week online course that takes you through the steps of writing a book. I’ve broken it down into easy-to-digest modules to help take away the overwhelm.

(To learn more, click here to watch a sneak preview where I share tips to help you write your opening chapter.)

Literary events also often have writing sessions where you can learn from incredible authors and industry experts so it's worth finding out what's coming up in your area.

4. Share your goal and start date

According to Jack Canfield, your chance of achieving your goals is greatly increased when you share it with others because you gain clarity and accountability.

For some writers, announcing their writing goal to their followers and friends on social media is one way to get the words down on paper. I know writers who also share their progress on social media.

If public declarations aren’t really your thing, share with family so they can give you encouragement (and space!); you may also want to write down your writing goals and keep a record of what you achieve each session. I always encourage aspiring authors to attach a numerical value to their work, whether that's a daily word count or number of pages. Writing a book can take a long time but by seeing progress with each session, it helps keep you motivated.

5. Plan your rewards

I often talk about the power of rewards when it comes to writing. I started using them when I realized I was constantly switching between tasks. I would open up my manuscript, write or edit a paragraph, then I would check my email, clear my inbox, research something, get up for a drink of water and so on.

I decided to set a timer for 90 minutes to work on my book and I wasn’t allowed to move from my chair or open up any other applications on my laptop. Only once the alarm went off was I allowed to reward myself to get up for a coffee.

During particularly busy periods, I would use bigger rewards to get me through the week. For example, if I write 5000 words this week, I can relax in the nail salon on the weekend. I would book the nail appointment and look forward to it. Rewards don’t suit everyone, but they’re definitely worth trying.


Dream of writing a book? Kick Start Your Book With Karen, my 8-step online course is now on SALE! Helping you with everything needed to write a book, from coming up with an idea to publishing options and everything in between, all with the guidance and support of a best-selling author. Click here to learn more >>>

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I'm Karen, a best-selling novelist who left her corporate life to pursue my dream of becoming a writer. Since then, I've written everything from travel articles to web copy before winning a novel writing competition which led to a 3-book deal. 


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