Friday, April 13, 2018

Imagine Finishing Your Book! A Three-Part Exercise for Encouragement

When the book journey feels way too long and the end is nowhere in sight, I use this short but encouraging exercise to help me vision my way to finishing my book.  You may not need it now, if you're rocking along.  But there may be a time when it's useful.  It has been for many of my clients who get stuck in the doldrums of are-we-there-yet?

Actually, pro writers often rely on "thinking from the end" to keep motivation high.  One example is novelist Roxanna Robinson who mentioned in a workshop many years ago that she likes to towards an ending image as she begins a book.  Seeing the end can help with the beginning stages, I've learned.  In many of my classes, I assign the final chapter as a writing exercise--a very rough draft, but it often delivers huge encouragement and even excitement to writers who try it.

But here's my favorite exercise to bring on your book's completion.  Maybe it'll feed your writing enthusiasm wherever you are right now.  
   
Step 1: 
Grab some paper and a pen or your laptop.  Set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes.   
Write, without editing or censoring anything, about how you might feel or look at your life or experience the moment when your book is finished.  That means, it's ready to go out to agents or editors or your chosen self-publisher.

Then do the same for the moment when it is actually published and you hold a copy in your hands.
The writing may take you in unexpected directions.  Let it go wherever it goes--even if it brings up concerns and fears about this, which it might, as well as excitement.   
Step 2: 
Writer Martha Beck calls this making a star chart (see her amazing book, Steering by Starlight, for more ideas along this line). Find a piece of 8-1/2 inch x 11 inch paper that you can fold in half lengthwise to resemble a blank book cover.   Look at published books you love to use as a guide, if you wish. 
Then gather 4-5 magazines and a pair of scissors, and gluestick or tape. Set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes and scan the magazines for the perfect image for your book cover.  You can also do this online, using free images from google or bing.com. 
Create the front of the book using this image.

Next, write some wonderful blurbs for your front and back cover. In your wildest dreams, who would you most love to write a blurb for your book?  Which reviewers from The New York Times, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly might read your book and rave about it?  Which famous authors? Draft some stellar reviews (make them realistic but also reach for the stars!) and paste them to the back cover, selecting the best one for the front.

If you want to go all out with this exercise, add a made-up bar code and back cover copy and even a spine.  Get into it--it's really fun (and actually helps you feel like you might someday finish!).
Step 3: 

Dream your publication party. 
When books are published, someone (friends, relatives, book clubs, even the publisher sometimes) will throw you a pub party.  Where would you most like to have it? Who might you invite? Imagine the music, food, literary stars, speeches, and you signing many copies of your books as they are sold to eager readers.

Set your kitchen timer for 20 minutes and list all your wishes.

Put these three jewels of your future up on your writing wall, scan them to your phone or desktop, and keep them in your awareness each day.  It's a common practice among published writers, so why not make it yours?