How do you know when you’ve finished?

Writing the last paragraph of my first novel gave me a feeling of profound satisfaction. I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos of J.K. Rowling recently and was fascinated by her description of how she felt on finishing the last Harry Potter: euphoria and then a low point. In her case I can understand it, she spent 17 years with those characters and created an alternative world in Hogwarts that is pure genius.

My experience was nothing like as extreme as hers – obviously it didn’t take me 17 years to write mine – and also I knew that it would need substantial revision.

I was much happier with the second draft than I was with the first, but the advantage of writing something really terrible is:

  1. You’ve finished it and thereby proved to yourself that you can finish a long piece; and
  2. You can revise it substantially, removing clichés, woolly bits, irrelevances, etc and turn it into something much better.

But is it finished? When do you stop revising and declare your novel finished?

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