IWSG: 5 Reasons You Haven’t Finished That Book And What To Do About Them


You Don’t Have A Consistent Writing Practice

Consistent action is the key to success in everything.  Whether it’s every day, once a week, or even once a month, you need to show up consistently.  It’s easy to become distracted by life circumstances, new interests, TV shows, and more urgent things that need your attention.  So decide right now how much you want to finish that book and then decide on a schedule that will work for you.

You Give Yourself An Out

I hear this all the time.  “My goal is to write a chapter a week, but I’ll be happy if I do half that much.” Or: “My goal is to write every day, but what will really happen is that I’ll procrastinate and watch TV and then feel guilty at the end of the month.”

Stop giving yourself an out.  You don’t have to pick random milestones like “a chapter a week” because they sound good or because that’s what everyone else is doing right now.  Pick a small, manageable goal as a first step and use it to build momentum for larger ones.

And stop sabotaging yourself with “permission to fuck around.” All those memes you see about how writers spend more time fucking off and arranging their desks or making coffee? WRONG.  It’s entirely possible to work on your book when you say you’re going to.  It’s a matter of deciding what you really want and going after it.

Find something you want to do, and then surround yourself with the supports you need to actually follow through.

Your Priorities Suck

There’s no easy way to say this.  You want to write but you “don’t have time.” You want to write but you’re tired.  You want to write but you can’t decide what to work on, so you watch TV instead.

Everybody has things they need to do.  Kids, job, chores, caretaking for sick loved ones.  There’s always going to be something you have to do.  And some days you will let that get in the way of your writing, because you’re human.  But most days, if you want to finish a book, you will sit down and do the work, because there’s no other way.

Figure out what your priorities are.  Then decide how much time and energy you can realistically give to writing each week.  Make a commitment to do the work, no matter what.

You Can’t Keep Your Eyes On Your Own Page
Everybody seems to have a cooler concept, more followers, a better blog.  Everybody’s doing wizards or dystopia or alpha romances, and you’re spinning your wheels trying to find the “perfect” thing to write.   Or you’re stuck because you start second guessing your ideas, and pretty soon you realize you haven’t written anything in a month.  Or three.
Don’t worry about what “everyone” is doing.  Be aware of market trends, understand what tends to be popular in your genre, but write your own story.  Whether it falls into a currently popular category or not, it’s uniquely yours–and you need to write what calls to you if you hope to finish.

You Are Listening to the Naysayers.


I have a project that’s so large in scope that it will probably take me the rest of my life.  I shared my notes and outline for it with a friend once, and he promptly told me that he didn’t think I could do it.  It was too long, too complex, too full of potential problems and setbacks.  So, his solution was that I shouldn’t try.


Later I shared another, more simple project with him.  That one was meant to be a trilogy.  He immediately started listing out every potential problem I might face while putting it together, every instance in which he foresaw a roadblock or question I’d have to solve.  MY reaction to a list of problems is to find solutions as I work.  HIS reaction was to say, again, that the story wouldn’t work and I should give up.


Needless to say, he and I don’t talk much about writing anymore.


If you’ve got a naysayer in your life, you need to stop listening to them.  Surround yourself with people who encourage and support you in overcoming your roadblocks, and leave the naysayers far behind you.


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