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Hi Susan, my problem is I often start projects and then give up on them after a few months of tinkering with them. Currently I am working on a novel that I have about 25 pages written. But my typical writing sessions have lately followed a pattern that goes something like this: I sit down at the computer and start a new chapter. I write for about two hours and then I need a break, even though I'm not finished writing the story I've started that day. I get something to eat, go for a walk, shop, whatever, and I usually spend most of my free time THINKING about writing, but when I return, I will look for anything to do, except write.  Whatever I was working on before is now half-finished and I can't bring myself to work on it any more.  This happens about half the time that I sit down to write.  What is the secret to finishing what you start?  Are the breaks that I take detrimental? Is two hours not long enough before a break?  It seems so odd to me that I spend so much time thinking about writing but then it becomes this herculean task to actually sit down and do the work.  Thanks in advance for any advice you can give.

Hello Adam:

I had to smile when I read your question, because I have exactly the same problem. It seems that I have to be "in the mood" before I can write.

However, there is a cure; I have recently read it in a book (published in America) called "First Draft in 30 Days" by Karen S Wiesner. Karen says (and I agree) that the first step in writing a book is thinking about the story - she calls it "brainstorming," and says it may take months or even years to get through this stage.

Beginning writers often have our problem, because they don't have a systematic method for proceeding. She likens the process to the building of a house. First you lay the foundation, then the framing, apply the walls, and last, finishing with the small touches. Brainstorming is part of the foundation. Her method requires a lot of work, but if you have hopes of selling your novel, you'll have to do the work anyway. If you worked 24 few hours a day without making any progress, you'd end up extremely frustrated. This is what is happening to you.

The big benefit of her method is that it is designed to keep you motivated. You can see your day-to-day progress, which is encouraging. And as you go through the process, the novel practically writes itself. I have always believed that the planning of a novel should take 2-3 times as long as the actual writing. This is the equivalent of having a guide through the Amazon rain forest.

I wish I could lay out the entire process for you, but it would take more space than we have here.

I hope this helps. If it does, a nice rating would be greatly appreciated. I am proud of my high scores over 2700 questions.

And good luck with your writing!

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Susan Rand


I can answer questions about the elements of fiction and non-fiction writing: how to get started, writing techniques, re-writing, etc. I will NOT write for you, do critiques except from my website at, or give you ideas. I will not answer home-or-schoolwork questions in any category. If English is your second language, please say so, and I will make an exception. Please submit no more than one or two questions at once, as I tend to go into detail in my answers.


I wrote my first book in 1957 and have been writing and studying writing since. I have a BA in Written Communications, and have taught writing both privately and through adult education for 15 years. Have also edited (fiction books) for an online publisher and edited/wrote more than 100 articles for a teen sex education site. Currently writing web content and mentoring beginning writers.

BA degree in Written Communication

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