The Miracle of Completing a Book

Last week I finished writing the first draft of another book. I’ve lost count of where this book stands in the long line of books I’ve written over the years. But it’s the fifth contracted book (with Bethany House Publishers). And it’s slotted to release the fall of 2013.

During the last few days of writing the book, I knew I was getting close to the end. Of course, I never know exactly where I’ll land, but most of my books are around 100,000 words. So I knew this one would likely end up there too (give or take a few thousand).

The closer I got to the end, the faster the words flowed so that I wrote close to 6,000 words the last two days (which for a slow writer for me is an enormous accomplishment!).

The final afternoon of typing, I tried to squeeze in writing time whenever I could. I typed during my son's guitar lesson. Then I pounded the keyboard later during my youngest children’s piano lessons. I even wrote while trying to help my oldest cook dinner, with a plethora of questions, a cacophony of noise, and the other children running all around me, coming in and out of the house, needing help, and wanting my attention.

When I punched out the last few sentences and realized I was done, tears of relief and joy welled in my eyes. For a long moment, I was overcome with the awe of completing another book. It had taken me three and a half months, approximately 14 weeks of writing with an average of 7000 words per week.
Amidst the chaos of my life, I knew it was truly a miracle to complete the book.

In fact, I believe any writer who finishes writing a book has truly accomplished a feat of miraculous proportions.

There are countless people who say they’d like to write a book. Everywhere we turn, friends and family tell us they have a book inside them.

It’s easy to talk about the grand ideas and stories simmering in our heads. But it takes a little more effort to actually sit down and start working on a book. And of all the people who talk about wanting to write a book, only a fraction of them ever make it to the computer to open up a page and start typing.

Of that fraction, an even smaller number will have the determination and dedication to plow forward when the going gets tough. Anyone who’s ever started a book knows just how difficult it gets once we immerse ourselves in a story. There are hundreds of small details to remember and include, plot threads to weave together seamlessly, characters to shape, facts to accurately research—not to mention the need to build readable sentences, paragraphs, dialog, and scenes.

Add in the busyness of life. I know I’m not the only one struggling to write while multi-tasking and managing a hundred other responsibilities. Most of us are exceptionally busy and trying to squeeze writing into the little free time we have.

With those kind of daunting obstacles facing writers, it’s a wonder anyone at all can finish a book.
The reality is, only a small percentage of those who start a book will actually finish one. And only a smaller minority will write more than one book.

So, take heart. If you’ve finished a book, count it as the miracle it is. Revel in it. Enjoy the accomplishment. Have a party. Be proud of yourself. Shed tears of joy.

You’ve accomplished what many only dream of doing. You’ve managed to put into words a story from beginning to end. You’ve given birth to your imagination. You’ve done the hard work and beaten the odds stacked against you.

Your book is a miracle.

Savor it.

Then once you’re done relishing that beautiful miracle, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and prepare yourself for the hard work of making another miracle happen—the process of taking your story and turning it into something everyone will enjoy reading. Editing takes a miracle too—along with a lot of time, hard work, and outside help (but that’s the makings of another post on another day!).

So what about you? How many books have you written? How do you feel when you finish your books?


  1. "Editing takes a miracle too." Amen! I believe I'm editing my eighth book (I tend to lose track).

    I always get a bit clingy at the end knowing I'm about to give my characters some time off before edits. Knowing I'll miss them. Yeah, I said it.

    As much as I appreciate improving my work there's just something about that first draft. Finishing it really is something to savor.

    Oh, and I know you'll get a kick out of how I was at the doctor's office last week and my doctor started telling me about the book she's writing. I offered encouragement, gave her my card, and then teased her to see if we could finish the physical. :D

    Congratulations on finishing another, Jody!
    ~ Wendy

  2. I was just counting yesterday. It's hard to decide whether to count the novels written when I had no idea what I was doing, and whether to count the complete rewrites. But I think it's somewhere around eight.

    The first thing I always want to do is go back and read the whole thing, star playing with it. But the process is different now that I'm putting it through a crit group. And, as you say, dealing with the busy-ness of ordinary life. Fiction goes very slowly for me in this time of my life, because what writing time I have has to be largley devoted to nonfiction (read that: paying!) projects.

  3. Depends on how you count it.
    Last Sunday I finally finished a 5 year project which is one story in a trilogy (novella size all, added up they come to about 70.000 words). I finished the first 2 books 2 and 1 year go.
    But I also did NaNoWriMo last year and finished a full novel in that.

    So however you count, either 2 or 4 of them ;)

    And Gratz on getting another book finished! I always forget people who write books are not the majority of people but rather the minority.

  4. Good morning, ladies! I'm impressed with the number of completed books! Congrats to you all!

    And Wendy, I agree. There's just something beautiful and wonderful about finishing a first draft. After months of working on it, the satisfaction of completing it is SO incredible. Yes, there's a TON of work still in store for the manuscript. In fact, the story has only just begun. But, nevertheless, it's a really good feeling to make it to that point! :-)

  5. Two. The first one is a great story...I just need to go back and show it better now that I've learned something about writing good fiction. The second one is the one I'm currently trying to edit and polish with hopes of publication. I have the bones of five or six others, including an Irish trilogy. I LOVE IT! I only wish I could write all the time. Maybe someday...

    Congratulations on finishing another one, Jody. Can't wait to read it.

  6. A big ONE. I'm almost done with the second draft. Thanks for the encouragement this morning. So many people in life seem to thinks that writing a book is no big deal: why isn't it on the shelves yet? How hard can it really be?

    Congratulations on finishing yet another novel! Your ability to get it done amidst all the distractions in life is inspiring to us all!

  7. Finishing a book is just the beginning, as I'm sure you know. There's the overhaul, the breaking apart and putting it back together, and finally the finished project. In no small order. It is indeed a miracle to finish, or start at all. Thanks for the inspiration!!

  8. I have four completed books under my belt and each time I wrote The End, tears welled in my eyes. I'm not sure if it was the exhaustion, the completion, or the fact I'd have to say good-bye to the characters.

    Then when I finally finish editing them (between 5-10 rounds for me, and another 2 -3 after the beta readers and crit partners get to them) I hate the book and never want to see it again. lol

  9. Five Unfinished novels, one that got too big and was set aside, and one complete and partially edited but unsaveable novel. (It suffers from structural errors that would require a complete rewrite.) I'm currently outlining book eight. Really, I only count the last two novels as 'serious'. The rest were written before I knew how to outline or even write!

  10. Wow, Jody...way to multi-task!:-) I greatly admire your ability to tune out the environment, at least enough to focus on writing something coherent. I don't imagine it's an easy thing to do. You are blessed to have awesome children, too!

    I'm a bit corn-fused about the numbers...if Unending Devotion is releasing in Fall 2012, and #5 is releasing in Fall 2013, when is #4 releasing? It seems your books usually always release in the Fall; is there one coming out in between?

    Anyway, congratulations on your "miraculous achievement!" And I look forward to hopefully seeing you sometime this summer!

    ~ Betsy

  11. LOL!! Yes, Betsy, the book release schedule is a bit off! Unending Devotion release in Sept. of 2012. My next book releases in April 2013 (and I'm currently editing it!). And then the book I just finished (in this post) releases next fall of 2013. Hope that makes sense! Looking forward to seeing you this summer too!

  12. Great post, Jody and congratulations on finishing another novel! What amazes me is how much time I spent writing and rewriting scenes time and time again. During the editing process some of those landed on the cutting room floor only to be replaced by brand new scenes that were only going to get a few passes before heading to print. Its exciting to see how the words come easier, the more experience we get under our belts.

  13. I've written five full length Bible studies and am presently editing my third novel. I understand that sense of awe you talked about in this post. As I edit my WIP I often find myself feeling overwhelmed by how much still needs to be done, but then I remember feeling the same way with the others, and it gives me the encouragement I need to persevere.

    Congratulations on completing another novel. I've read The Preacher's Bride and The Doctor's Lady and am looking forward to reading Unending Devotion. I'm amazed at your ability to accomplish so much with all the other responsibilities you have. My children are grown and out of the house, and yet I still struggle at times to find the time to write.

  14. I've finished one book at 82k, and I'm currently writing two other books (the first one mentioned is being put aside for the time until I can rewrite it). One of the current ones is at 85k and not done (it'll probably be over 100k). And the other one is at 64k and not done. That one will probably be 80 or 90k.

    And I always feels so relieved and happy when I finish one. (Well the last one I did!) I think its wonderful to get something done and onto paper, but I also feel kinda sad because then I know my journey with these characters is almost done. But its worth it.

    And congratulations on completing another book!

  15. I've been a writer for years, but have only just begun the journey of novelist. I started writing my first book last August/September. Finished the first draft in November. Am currently working on the third draft of that book. But I've got story ideas for my second and third and hopefully the process for those will go quicker since I've got a little experience now.

  16. I finished writing my first novel six months ago. Describing it as a miracle is quite apt. When I typed the last word, I slumped back on the couch and cried. I couldn't believe I'd actually done it!

    Now I need to see if I can do it again.

  17. Finished four (well, three that I would actually let another human read).

    Such a high, every time, like having a baby - you know it's PERFECT, even though you know OTHER people's newborns have pimples, red scrunched faces and weird eyebrows, YOURS is perfect.

    I think that's part of why we keep writing, even if we haven't sold, yet.

    Congrats on finishing your book; enjoy the glow, until the editing begins.

  18. I finished my first several years ago, then went to a writing conference and found out how much work it needed. Still plan to edit it and seek publication, but I also found out that I needed to start earlier in the series o make it work. I'm working with a writing coach now. The plan is first draft by end of August, edits in Sept/Oct & rewriting in Nov/Dec, then 2013 seek publication! You are an inspiration to me, Jody!

  19. I've written 1 teen novel, 2 children's books, 2 historical romances, 3 Bible studies, and 1 nonfiction book, for a total of 9. I'm currently started my 10th book.

    Whenever I finish, I have a mixture of joy and sadness. Joy that it's finished, but also sad the journey has ended.

    Jodie Wolfe

  20. Forgot to add...nothing published yet! :)


  21. Jody...what a timely post:) Just what I needed to hear today. I have about 7 chapters left and then I'll be done my first WIP...well the first draft anyway:) I know I'll cry tears of joy too...! Of course then the real hard part begins...but somehow I'll work and learn and work some more!
    BTW congrats on finishing another book...that's awesome!

  22. I have written 4 books, they are all published. Since I was a child, my dream was to be a published author. My dream finally came true at the age of 45. It took years to have the confidence to put my writing out there. My latest memoir, Hearts On The Line just became available on Amazon a few days ago and I was so nervous. Since it is a memoir, it is more scary because I am revealing personal things in my life, and this one has some juicy details. But it is so exhilarating at the same time. I have such a feeling of accomplishment, because like you said, it takes sitting your butt down and actually doing it, even if there is chaos in the house. I can't tell you how many people tell me that they want to write a book, or have an idea for a book, but I know they will never sit their butt in the seat and do it.

  23. Hi Jody!

    Love this post. Since my first novel ultimately underwent 3 different versions (names stayed the same, plot changed, title changed & only 2-3 scenes at MOST stayed from Version 1 through Version 3), I consider this 3 different books, so through in the horrid one from high school and the other two I've written since, I've got 6 under my belt.

    The aforementioned 3-in-1 came out this year as Blood Rage, got the 2nd book out this year (Blood-Mage Rising), and then I'm trying to write the third in the series.

    I usually feel something akin to relief (for a few minutes) and then I freak because I know the first draft really stinks smelly eggs and I have to let it sit for a week or two to clear my head of it.

  24. When I was going the traditional route I had a lot of bad moments in the form of rejection letters or no response at all. Since I started self publishing under my own name and a pen name I have had many great moments: working my way through an exciting spot in my book, laughing out loud at the funny parts, feeling my eyes well up at the sad parts. I never realized before how engrossing one's own books could be and how much satisfaction (okay, frustration, too sometimes) could be derived from being an author. I had expected to be more detached and analytical but that hasn't proved to be the case at all. It's kind of the same way your characters become almost real to you and you wish you could meet them. Do others feel the same way?

  25. Congratulations on finishing your manuscript! I recently finished the sequel to the book that will be out next May, and it really is a terrific feeling isn't it? I know it's not done, in fact it's in the virtual drawer while I work on a writing grant and an all new proposal, but just knowing the first draft is done (which is the hardest part for me) is a huge relief.

    I hope you took a little time to celebrate your wonderful achievement!

  26. I'm really enjoying hearing more about your writing journeys today, everyone!

    Ida, I definitely feel that way about my characters!! I fall in love with them during first draft! But by the end of all the editing, I'm ready for a divorce! ;-)

  27. I just finished the first draft of my first novel in February. Now I'm in the editing and rewriting phase and it's much more time consuming and painful! Last week when I read your post, I thought you had completed your novel, rewriting and editing included, in four months - now that I know it's your first draft I don't feel (quite) as jealous! :) I'm amazed at how you juggle it all - you're an inspiration. I have four kiddos - the youngest are twin boys who just turned two - and I keep thinking "If Jody can do it, so can I!" Your blog has been encouraging and so helpful. Thank you!

  28. I am 90% to completion of my third finished draft. This encouragement is just what I needed - thanks! It makes me even more excited to get to the end, which for me means joining all of my scenes, ideas and snippets together into something resembling a flowing narrative. Oh, the life of a pantser...

  29. I am editing the last one or two picky paragrahs that just don't float as well as I'd like them to. After that, I'm done. Done-ish. Done-ish-like. Done-ish-like-full.
    And I LIKE my likeable characters, I miss them and I think of them when I'm not writing. Either I'm a whack job, or a writer.

    Now I need an agent.

    Is this thing on?


  30. Great post! Congrats on finishing another book!

    I wrote my first book last year. Even if I never get published, I was just SO excited to finish!

  31. Congratulations on finishing your draft, and thanks for the reminder to keep plowing ahead!

  32. I have one completed novel, now half way through a major rewrite/edit, several party started ones, and another one nearly finished. Funnily enough, finising my first one was a bit of a letdown. I expected to feel really excited, but didn't really. Perhaps it will feel better once it's edited?

  33. I never feel much of anything after my novel is finished. Perhaps it's because I'm callous. Perhaps it's because I'm simply relieved that I'v quieted the voices in my mind. Perhaps it's because I've finished many, many novels in my life.

    That seems the likeliest suggestion. After all, I've been finishing them since I was six or seven years old. Many people have. With time, practice, pig-headedness and an affection for carpal tunnel, I believe writing and finishing a novel is something anyone can do. But getting someone to read that novel? After parting with their sheets of synthetic cotton which they've given you in exchange for your words and your sweat and your dreams? Now, there's an accomplishment, in my eyes.

  34. Rinelle, Perhaps you will feel more excitement once you have the book edited. I know some people finish their first drafts and aren't in love with them the way I am! They grow more in love with their story as the edit and get it into better shape. I tend to fall out of love the more critical I get, so that by the time it goes to print, I can't stand it anymore! :-)

  35. Congratulations on finishing another story! You're doing a marvelous job of balancing the different stages of all those you have on the go!

    I've completed four, and am well on the way to finishing the first draft of a fifth. The first two will never see publication, but I have hopes for the others. First, however, I'll have to stop tinkering with them and get back to querying.

    I'm always ecstatic when I realize I've reached the end, and the euphoria lasts through the first few revisions. About then I get impatient to start on the next story that's begging for attention. A few more revisions and I become exasperated with the characters that are tying me to their now tired story, so I finally abandon them. I suppose that's why I always end up going back later for "just one more" revision.

  36. Words sharing Motivation Mario
    You just close to them who you are
    like. And often you avoid the
    are not you dislike, but from him that
    You will know a new perspective.
    may be useful and can be well received ..

  37. One novel published, one (sequel)recently finished to first draft. Now the part I think I hate the most. Rewrites. That said, I totally agree with you about the feeling of finishing a book (rough draft or polished). There's not much that can compare. It's a bit like completing a part of yourself that's been missing - amputated.

  38. I agree. I've just finished my first and writing 'The End' was all it's cracked up to be. :D

  39. Congratulations, Jody! Finishing a book is certainly a big accomplishment. It's nice to read your account of it here and how exciting it is to you even now on your 5th (to be published) book. I was also inspired to see that you fit your writing in during your children's music lessons and while overseeing dinner preparation. With a teenager, a baby, and a husband at home, I find I struggle with getting uninterrupted quiet time, even for only a few minutes. Perhaps I need to plow through distraction like you. Thank you for showing us a bit of your process.


© All the articles in this blog are copyrighted and may not be used without prior written consent from the author. You may quote without permission if you give proper credit and links. Thank you!