writing a book

Writing A Book: 5 Tips to Launch You to the Finish Line

Ann O'Brien

Ann O'Brien

December 8, 2022

Dreaming about becoming a writer is more common than you might think. Over 200 million Americans – around 80% of the population — have admitted to dreaming about writing a book but not nearly as many have actually acted on that aspiration. For aspiring authors who don’t want to lose sight of their own authorship dreams, understanding why some writers lose steam and put down their metaphorical writing pens can help them avoid the same disappointment.

And out of those hundreds of millions of people who say they want to author a book, only about 3% finish writing a book. That adds up to hundreds of thousands of new book titles being published yearly, and new authors make up a good portion of that. But how can you ensure that you will be one of the aspiring authors who actually cross the publishing finish line? Let’s look at what keeps many aspiring authors from finishing their books so you can finish yours.

What Keeps Aspiring Authors from Finishing Their Books?

If you want to keep your book writing dreams alive, one of the best motivators to stay the course is to learn what stumbling blocks stopped other aspiring writers. Many who have an excellent idea for a book but can’t seem to finalize their concept into a completed book share a few common reasons why they stopped short of writing their books.

  • They don’t have a well-defined audience. If you don’t know whom you are targeting as the ideal reader for your book, the content of the book can feel unfocused. Aspiring authors who want to be successful in writing a book should decide who they want to read their book before they even begin writing so every page and word is appealing to the potential reader.
  • Authors don’t plan out the book thoroughly. Like any other project you begin, you need to lay out a structure for the book and what it will look like when it is completed. Experienced authors may be able to simply write and know that the words and ideas will come, but most authors won’t have that skill (at least at first). Most authors need a defined roadmap for the book to keep them on track.
  • The book’s content doesn’t seem to have a clear purpose. Authors who don’t know the main idea for their book before they start writing can lose interest as their writing veers in different directions. Clarify what problem your book will solve and why readers will want to read your book in the early stages of writing to avoid experiencing writing delays from this all-too-common book writing problem.
  • Self-motivation isn’t enough to keep writers on track. Authors who don’t have any personal or professional accountability in their writing process often find themselves losing interest in book writing.
  • They get distracted. Creativity can be inspiring and exciting and may sometimes lead writers down multiple writing pathways simultaneously. But becoming distracted with new ideas or even the second or third book in a series before completing the first book can cause authors to become overwhelmed and simply stop writing altogether.

Writing A Book: 5 Tips to Launch You to the Finish Line

If you don’t want to be in the 97% of authors who don’t finish their books, check out these five suggestions that will help you get on track, stay motivated, and complete your next book project so you can become a published author.

1. Develop an Accountability Resource

One key element to writing a book, especially for self-publishing authors, is accountability in your progress. Authors are more successful when they justify their efforts to others rather than themselves. An accountability partner can take many forms depending on a writer’s interests, time commitments, relationships with other writers, and writing style. Some of the types of accountability options are

  • Another Published Writer: Another writer who has completed their book can be a motivating partner for an author who needs accountability. Not only will another author know what it takes to complete a book, but they can also support an aspiring author who needs the motivation to keep working while providing suggestions and tips that helped them push through to the finish line.
  • Book Coach: A book coach is a paid expert who can help writers with everything from supporting the planning process to schedule writing expectations so authors can challenge themselves with writing a book in the timeframe they want.
  • Personal Reminders: The simple use of your digital device’s calendar or a reminder app can help you keep your writing on track. By setting check-ins to track and encourage daily, weekly, monthly, or even longer writing goals, authors can act effectively as their own accountability partners. While these might be easier for a writer to ignore than personal contact with another person, some authors may find that this type of accountability is all they need to stay on track to finish writing book sections.
  • Writer’s Circles: Whether virtual or in person, writer’s circles are excellent motivational groups that authors use as a resource for learning from what other writers do and know. Authors who want accountability to write consistently so they will finish their project can use their group or other authors from the group to motivate them and check in on their progress when writing a book.
  • Writing Sessions: Some authors like to join large group writing sessions to help them complete their book or at least a big portion of it. Every November thousands of writers join the NaNoWriMo writing challenge. This non-profit provides accountability and encouragement during this 30-day session for writers so they can try to reach 50,000 words on their own writing projects, the commonly accepted novel length. Established authors and writing groups also may offer writing sessions on a smaller scale like weekend writing retreats or regular power-writing sessions that authors can attend to create accountability.

2. Let Quality (Not Quantity) Be Your Motivation

Authors struggling to finish writing a book can often become hyper-focused on getting words on the page. But for some authors, putting quality over quantity can help them get closer to their goal of finishing their book.

While writing challenges intended to increase word counts can be a great motivator for writers who are stalled out, they can be short-term encouragement that fizzles when the challenge is over. Combining bursts of writing with intentional quality writing can build an author’s writing endurance in a way that is sustainable for many writers.

3. Focus on Progress Over Perfection

Sometimes authors can get caught up in fixing every little error, missing phrase, or plot hole before moving on. But adopting a philosophy that focuses on making progress rather than perfecting every word on the page can help writers meet their writing goals and finish writing a book. Stopping to fix grammar mistakes and swapping around sentence construction can slow your writing mojo and keep you from focusing on the big picture (finishing The Book).

4. Don’t Let Fear Stop Your Progress

We can be our own worst enemy, especially when confidence is involved. Every writer has questioned whether their work is good enough or if readers will like their book. But don’t let your own anxieties or fears about your book keep you from making progress toward your writing goal. Acknowledging your own insecurities can help you deal with them so they don’t develop into a mental roadblock you can’t bypass.

One popular strategy is to think of writing a book as a service you are providing to the reader rather than something you are writing for yourself. By mentally shifting the purpose, authors can sometimes channel that natural fear into a motivation to provide the book content that will help or benefit the reader.

5. Act Like an Author

Another strategy to help you finish writing a book is to act like being an author is your job. When you prioritize your book-writing activities, life won’t get in the way. There will always be something that comes up to derail your writing plans when it is something you do in your free time. But when your mindset shifts to make writing a priority, you are more likely to meet your writing goals in the short and long term.

Publishing Your (Finished!) Book

Writing a book takes endurance, confidence, and time. And authors that make it across the finish line can present their books to their readers with a beautiful self-published book when they work with a printing company like Publishing Xpress. Pushing past the challenges that come with motivating yourself to finish your own book will be worth it when you hold that final published copy of your book in your hands.

You can find motivation in working with a community of writers, leaning on accountability partners, and intentionally pushing past self-doubt to finish writing your book, and you will be rewarded with a beautifully bound copy of your work to keep, gift, or sell as a reminder of all of your dedication and hard work – until it’s time to begin your next book.

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