Six-step plan to help you fall back in love with your unfinished novel

... or at least get you back in the writing groove

Writing a novel is a tough gig. Getting back into one that’s been languishing may be even tougher.

Where do you even start?

You need a plan.

If you don’t have one, here’s one I prepared earlier that might just do the trick.

  1. If your chapters are separate files, shuffle them together into one document. Don’t worry if there are gaps, this is going to give you an overview of what work needs doing.
  2. Format your manuscript with generous margins and at least 1.5 spacing, then print it out. (If you don’t have a printer, invest the $15 or so to print it at your local stationers, it’ll be worth it.)
  3. Set aside a good chunk of time – at least one and a half hours – to start reading it. Chose a quiet comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted (bed, the library, the park). Turn off your phone.
  4. Read it with a pencil in hand (not a pen, a pen is too harsh, trust me on this). If you find bits that need fixing, just circle them, make a note in the margin and move on. If you get a brainwave, make a note and move on. Working like this will give you an overview of your book. It’s so easy to get lost in the detail when you are working on screen; working on paper helps you see the big picture.
  5. Hopefully after your first session you’ll be chomping at the bit to keep reading. Even if you feel a little disheartened, if it’s not in as good a shape as you remembered, or there’s more work to do than you hoped, FOLLOW THROUGH. Read it to the end. Trust your memory and your notes; they are going to help you decide what to do next once you’ve finished your appraisal.
  6. When you’re finished, note down the jobs that need doing and choose which one to start with. Give yourself a break and pick the easiest one.  This will help you ease back into the writing groove.

I’ve used this process a couple of times to get back into a novel after a big break (this was back before I realised my super power was helping people write novels, not writing them myself). I’ve also recommended it to writers I’ve worked with. It really helped them, and maybe it can help you too.

Why not give it a go?

Want more writing tips like this?

Sign up to my email list for more tips and tricks, as well as notifications of events and discounts. Nothing too spammy, I promise.

You can unsubscribe at any time if you decide it's not for you.

...almost there...

Thank you for signing up to my email list.


Lu Sexton

Hello, I’m Lu Sexton. I’m an editor and writing coach. I’ve been working with writers like you since 2009 and I love it. My mission is to help you bring out the best in your writing and get you one step closer to being published.

I’m a budding author and have some technical training. I’d written a novel that had somewhat gone in the weeds but recoverable with the proper focus. I had a coaching session on my first 10K words, which was incredibly valuable. The video interaction was much better than previous line edits [from a different editor]. Lu is very precise in her ideas, gives strategy, and frankly I feel confident going forward with my big project and plan to use her expertise for the final edits.

Janet Uhde

Creative writer

I feel I can’t praise Lu highly enough. I’d come to a standstill with my writing process and contacted Lu for a dip-your-toe mini-appraisal. After reading only a few chapters of my work it was obvious to me that Lu ‘got it’. She had a true sense of my characters and which direction I wanted to/should take them in. She made a few suggestions that I would never have thought of myself but feel will benefit my work immensely. I felt comfortable and at ease with her from the beginning and hope to work with her again soon. Thanks for everything, Lu xx

P M Edwards