Take it to the finish line.

Take it to the finish line.

Marathons are grueling. The last three miles feel longer than the first 20, not because the distance is farther but because it’s the most demanding part of the race. You’re exhausted but you have to push through to reach the finish.

Some writers find it easier to quit, to focus on another book, self-publish or claim their editors don’t know what they’re talking about. Instead, ask yourself why you wanted to write this book in the first place. Then get back to work using the techniques in this article.

It won’t help you finish faster, but it will change your understanding of story, the way you write, and your relationship with readers. The beginning of your story is a promise; a promise that things will be different at the end. When you deliver on that promise not just at the finish but many times over the course of a novel, readers’ trust in you will grow.

Even more than that, you’ll start to trust in yourself. You’ll know your story is complete when you’ve said what you needed to say without exception. You’ve stopped thinking about the finish line. You’re no longer making last-minute tweaks and surface revisions. It’s the point at which responses equal readiness.

In turn you’ll gain the trust of agents, editors, booksellers and everyone else who helps bring your work to your readers. In fact, they’ll be eager to do so. You’ll be over the last 10 percent and on your way to a successful fiction career.

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