The One Promise You Should Make to Yourself as a Writer

trackIf there’s one promise you should make to yourself as a writer, it’s this:

Finish your manuscript.

Amy McLane and I stood in the parking lot (we are the Parking Lot Confessional, after all) after class on night in the fall of 2011, and we made a promise to ourselves and to each other that by spring 2012, we would both be finished with our Works in Progress.

We both made good on that promise, and it has made all the difference.

If you never finish what you’re working on, you can never move forward to the next step.

Believe me, you can spend the rest of your life revising the first chapter of your novel. Or…you can make yourself a promise that you’ll finish it and move forward.

Is moving forward scary? Heck, yeah. But at some point you have to ask yourself which is worse: facing a fear (and likely conquering it), or living with the regret of not having finished that book you always wanted to write.

There’s a statistic that gets quotes often (whether or not it’s scientific I don’t know) that says something like 90% of the population wants to write a book someday. 2% of them actually do it.

Amy and I wanted to be in that 2%, and S. C. Green is soon to join it, too.

All it comes down to is finishing the book.

I know, I know. You’re busy and you have so much to do and no time to do it in. Fine. We all feel that way. But if you really want something, you make the time.

I have spent the last couple of months being anti-social, declining invitations, and bowing out of events, in order to make my deadline. Yesterday I sent my revised manuscript off to my editor. Hitting the send button made me giddy. That sense of accomplishment might be the most motivating thing I’ve ever felt as a writer. I can’t wait to do it again. But none of this would be happening if I hadn’t made that promise back in 2011 to finish the novel.

Do yourself a favor: promise yourself you’re going to finish your manuscript. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting or racing toward the deadline. Set a deadline if you have to. Just make the promise and then don’t let yourself down. Trust me, it’ll be worth it.