48 Ways To Get Your Manuscript Finished!

In honour of Sally Quillford’s 48th birthday we were asked to come up with blog posts based on the number 48, so I’ve written a list of 48 ideas to help you finish your manuscript. Some of these are serious others a bit silly and most depend on your character – take what works for you and try it. Happy writing.

1. Book slots in your diary for writing
2. Team up with another writer and encourage each other to complete.
3. Treat each chapter of a book as a short story (Thanks for author D.M. Harrison for this)
4. Get a publisher or agent interested in reading your work.
5. Focus all of your thoughts on your story. What you focus on tends to expand.
6. Set small, achievable goals, for example 1000 words a day.
7. Get someone to lock you in your study until you have finished.
8. Give up sleep.
9. Set your alarm for one hour earlier and write before breakfast.
10. Write in different venues to stimulate your creativity.
11. Do not allow yourself to have your favourite thing until you have finished. No chocolate for me then.
12. Use the #1k1hr on Twitter to team up with other writers.
13. Get a cleaner.
14. Get a gardener.
15. Tell yourself if you don’t write you have to clean the oven.
16. Buy a bag of small things you like, e.g. bath bombs, chocolate, new pen, etc. and reward yourself after every 5,000 words.
17. Divide the number of words you want to write by the days till your deadline and stick to the target.
18. Only allow yourself as many calories per day as words you write.
19. No social networking until the manuscript is finished.
20. No television until you are finished.
21. Divide your day into small slots using a kitchen timer – 20 minutes writing, followed by 20 minutes housework and so on.
22. Take research trips to stimulate your plot.
23. Go on long walks thinking about your plot.
24. Try periods of not allowing yourself to write at all, just allow yourself intensive thinking time until you are bursting to write.
25. Use spider diagrams to solve plot quandaries.
26. Write at the same time every day so that your brain expects you to write at that time.
27. Use a particular perfume to associate with each new piece of work to focus your brain.
28. Have a playlist of music tracks associated with your manuscript and play it each time you sit down to write.
29. If you get stuck have a shower – I always have loads of ideas when I am wet and have nothing to write on.
30. Treat all waiting time as writing time – dentist, doctors, school run, when friend getting coffee.
31. Multi-task – write when the family are watching a television programme you are not interested in.
32. Visualise your book on the bookshop shelves to encourage you.
33. Join an online writing group.
34. Do daily writing exercises to get in the writing mood.
35. Get a nanny.
36. Send you washing out to be cleaned.
37. Attend writing conferences for inspiration.
38. Fall in love with your hero.
39. Make sure you relate to your heroine.
40. Really want to know what happens at the end of your story.
41. Get an ironing lady.
42. Give up cleaning.
43. Produce an index card for each chapter and put the cards on a completed pile when finished.
44. Remember how to eat an elephant – a piece at a time!
45. Brainstorm plot twists with a friend or partner.
46. Have a progress chart or graph to monitor your output.
47. Get a dictaphone for car journeys.
48. JFDI – hubbie gave me this one, a company business term apparently – Just Fu**ing Do It!

If you have any other ideas please list them below. Happy birthday Sally Quillford.

By Morton S. Gray

Author of romantic suspense novels. http://mortonsgray.com


  1. Ha! I approve of the last one! But if I ate as many calories a day as I wrote, I'd have an even bigger weight problem than I've got already (though it follows that on the days I don't write, I can't eat anything!)

    These are great, Morton. Genuinely helpful amongst the jokey ones!


  2. I like the last one too! And I always get inspiration/plot bunnies in the shower. I think it's because I don't really have to 'think' while showering, I'm on auto pilot, wash hair, condition… I can think about my hero – because oh, I tend to fall in love my heroes. But then, you should really, shouldn't you?


  3. Sally – Serenity Woods has been doing the 1000 words 1000 calories! Yes, if you were too word prolific it would ruin the diet!

    Clare – Strange with me the water thing doesn't work if I have a means of recording my thoughts in the bathroom with me! Unfair or what?

    Teresa – JFDI is good – even saying it gives you a kick up the backside. I need to get going again, a bit stalled at the moment, but then wrote this blog post in no time. Lol. Mx


  4. Sally – Maybe we could have reading other people’s blogs as a reward for writing?

    Jenny – I used to operate on four hours sleep, but then I was much younger than and living on adrenalin. I’ll try and work out how to do the award thank you.

    Lacey – Thank you for reading.

    Womagwriter – You’ve obviously realised my biggest guilt factor – housework!

    Maria – Thank you – see you on Facebook.

    Isn’t it strange if I check my blog comments several times a day I don’t get any and if I don’t log on for a day, I get loads!!


  5. Love this post! But I'm afraid i'm a lost cause – I would see the writing conferences as an excuse to avoid my manuscript – and as for getting a gardener – I'd be too busy gazing out of the window imagining him as my romantic literary hero! I will follwo this list and let you know hoe I get on! xxxx


  6. Hi Morton, sorry I'm late to the party. Love this post. Some great ideas here! But of course the last one is the best. In the end, we all have to just effing do it, don't we? And really there's no other secret to getting the damn book finished 🙂


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