What it Takes to Finish Your Novel

by Megan Handley, Age 13, Canada

Artwork by Katie King


What it takes to complete your rough draft - jaBlog!You have a great idea for a plot. You want to turn it into something other people will read. So you write for a few days and complete the beginning, maybe a few chapters. But then you run out of ideas and decide to take a break from writing for a few days. A few days turns into a few weeks, and eventually, the beginning of your novel has been sitting on your desk for a month, and there’s not really any point in picking it up again.

This situation isn’t as uncommon as you may think. Nobody is born with the talent to write incredible stories and finish them on their first try. As with any other activity, writing takes time, effort, and commitment.

While writing my first novel, I discovered that there are three main steps to completing the rough draft: determination, practice, and improvement.

If you find yourself making excuses about why you haven’t written lately, you have a very important question to ask yourself: Why? Maybe writing isn’t “the thing” for you. If you’re so busy with other commitments that you don’t have time to write every day, that’s okay. All that has to happen is that you have to want to write. It’s the actual desire to finish a writing project that takes you furthest. If you want to write and if you have specific goals set that you want to meet, your own determination will finish the project easily. But if you don’t want to write, then don’t write. It is impossible to write well if your heart isn’t in it.

Truthfully, it’s hard to find an excuse not to practice every day if you really love to write. I would recommend working on your novel for at least one hour each day; although once you begin writing, you might not want to put down the paper until you’ve finished that scene or chapter. If you don’t have an ongoing project like a novel, you should still practice writing for at least 15 minutes every day. Not sure what to write? Laura has some excellent tips, prompts, and exercises on her tips page!

The best place to write is a place where nobody else can find you. Go sit in some random corner of your basement or attic and write until your hand falls off. Not literally, of course. But trust me, I know from experience that it’s much easier to write uninterrupted when the rest of your family has no idea where you are!

Upon finishing the last chapter of my rough draft and glancing back at the first one, I was shocked by the drastic change in my writing style. I’m going to brag a bit here and call that change an improvement. I was determined; I practised every day, so I improved. And, by the way, everyone who finishes the rough draft of a novel should have bragging rights. It’s no easy task, but if you love writing like I do, the finished product is rewarding beyond measure.

So, there you have it. All it takes to finish your rough draft is a whole lot of determination and some practice, and your result will be improvement. Nobody is born knowing how to write. If you strive to become an author, you can do it. Remember–determination, practice, and improvement!


Megan Handley is a 13 year old writer from Canada. She has attempted to write many novels in the past but has only just succeeded in finishing her first.


3 comments on “What it Takes to Finish Your Novel

  1. Megan

    I haven’t totally finished my novel yet. I have finished several drafts, but so far they have all been on paper. Right now, I am working on typing up what I have already written – possibly the most boring part! When I have finished typing and done one or two more drafts, I am hoping to get it self – published.

    • Laura Thomas

      Hi Megan. I am writing Polly Workbook #4: Write a Novel. If you have any questions or issues that you would like me to cover in the workbook, it’s not too late to let me know. Leave a comment here or email me.

  2. Karen Mostad

    Hi Megan, It was so cool finding your article on this site. I had just looked up Laura Thomas after hearing her speak on CKNW last night about her new novel. My daughter also loves to write and was thinking that she should know about this website. Your article is very insightful and applies to anything in life that we strive to become expert at. Whatever our passion we must practice, even when it feels challenging and not very fun! Having read some of your fabulous writing at school, I am excited to hear more about your novel!

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