SavvyBlogSpecial Events and WebinarsWriting Life

Back in the Saddle Again by R.J. Garside


Okay, so it has been a few years since I sat down to write a book.

I tried to write for the last SavvyAuthors’ boot camp, but I failed miserably and quit not even halfway through.  My word count was below 10k. That is a pathetic attempt at being a writer… Yep, I’ve been a wannabe writer. I want to be a writer, but I haven’t been willing to make sacrifices to be a full-fledged writer. How can I possibly become a published author if I can’t finish a book?

I am gearing up to take part in NaNovember and this time I want to win. No, I have to win. My pride as a writer is on the line. To be a writer, you must complete a book. I haven’t completed a book in three years. I’ve been tinkering with a novella and a full-length for too long but nothing fresh and nothing complete. And don’t ask how many books I’ve started… I’ve got too many started manuscripts sitting in my Writing Folder that will never be finished.

I want to prepare myself for success, so I’ve scoured the world wide web looking for tips on how to finish my book. These are a compilation of the tips I felt were most important. I hope these tips help you.


Create a schedule that gives realistic, attainable writing goals.

I have a crazy and chaotic life that doesn’t allow me to have one full hour to sit down and write.  I always have some kind of work to do, and then there is school, and a family that doesn’t function without Mom. Does that mean I should quit my dream of being a published author? Nope, it means for me blocking off one hour of uninterrupted time is impossible. I have to break down my writing times into bite-sized ten-minute sessions. I can hide in the bathroom with my laptop and the lights off and pretend not to hear my three children banging on the door for ten minutes. J Six 10-minute writing sessions will work for me.


Find a cheering section in a writing group.

For me, that has always been SavvyAuthors. Back when Savvy first started, when I was childless and not so hopped up on caffeine or sleep-deprived, it was where I started and where I finished my first book. Okay, so it was a vampire book and really terrible, but I finished a book. And then another and another. Even as a mother of a nearly two-year-old and a newborn, I competed in the boot camp and kicked butt. It was also where I found my critique partner, who reached out to me when I was ready to quit writing because I had someone tell me story idea was stupid. That critique partner changed my life.


Do some plotting!

Know the basic blueprint of your story is the best way to stay on track and not taking a wild twist that results writing yourself into a corner.

I don’t make smart choices when I have no idea where my character is going next. Stupid choices and then I get frustrated and disappointed and I’m waving the white flag. This year, I am working on my character interviews, GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict), and beat sheets. It will prepare me to start on November 1st and when I go to take a wrong turn, I’ll go back to my road map to help steer me in the right direction or at least a realistic direction.


Set up a system of writing rewards.

I set up a system of writing rewards when I first started writing, and all my incentives were yummy chocolate bars. As my word count went up so did my weight. Lesson learned: don’t make writing rewards edible. J My writing rewards will now consist of a new book or watching that Packers or Leafs game.


Don’t edit, just write!

Part of my problem is the little editor that sits on my shoulder shouting how badly I’m messing things up with my story. This time around, I will not read the scenes or chapters I wrote the day before. I’ll allow myself a quick review of the last two or three sentences just so I know where I left off. When I finish my writing session, I’ll scratch down a quick summary of what I will write the next day. I will mute that inner critic and just remember how much I love to write. I loved writing that first book (the really terrible vampire one) because back then I didn’t know how to edit. I didn’t know what made a good character or a good scene or how to structure a book. Now I know all those things, I can’t write

NaNovember is a tough challenge, and I’d daresay borderline insane. Before I start my writing session, I will take a deep breath and remember why I took this challenge. I want to finish a book. I want to win! If you have more tips, please post a comment. J


[box type=bio]

RJ Garside is a writer, an editor, and perpetual student. When she’s not chasing after her three little monsters, she can be found reading, editing, or watching her beloved sports teams on TV.




RJ is also the MOST AMAZING and dedicated Workshop and Membership director right here at SavvyAuthors!

When you email about some incredble class or (sigh) problem with PayPal or the site, it is usually RJ who helps you. Dawn and I JUST LOVE HER. And I could not make SavvyAuthors work without her.


~~Leslie Dow, Owner and SavvyAuthiors Site Monkey (I also edit the blog, hehe)



RJ Garside is the wearer of many hats. She's the proud momma of three devilishly adorable little boys. Mature student extraordinaire. By day, she can ...