5 Ways to Never Finish Your Book

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Many people start books that they never finish. Here’s how it works.

That would-be author has a great idea. Motivation is strong. The author sets to work. Soon enough, though, the emotion drains away, and the slog begins. The would-be author comes up with excuses not to write. After a while, he or she just quits writing.

There are lots of reasons why people don’t finish their books. Here are five common ones.

You’ll never finish your book if you depend on inspiration.

Inspiration is an emotion. It’s fleeting. You can’t depend on it showing up every day for work. Develop strong self-discipline and good writing habits. They’re your only hope.

You’ll never finish your book if you expect it to be perfect.

Human beings don’t do perfect. Heed the great American philosopher, Vince Lombardi.

“We are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it because in the process we will catch excellence.”

I had a client that wanted his book to be perfect. He kept tweaking and revising it. He gave it to several editors to improve it. In the end, he did everything to his book except publish it.

Heed the advice of another great American philosopher, Steve Jobs. “Great artists ship.” Set a firm date to finish your book and let everyone know. Engage an accountability partner to keep you on track, working, and honest with yourself.

You’ll never finish your book if you wait for a clear signal from the market.

If you wait for your topic to be a hot topic before you start writing, you’re doomed. The authors who write about hot topics did their writing before the topic got hot. They wrote about a topic they thought was important, then they got lucky.

That was my client, Suzi McAlpine. She was passionate about burnout and about helping business leaders deal with it. So, she wrote a great book, Beyond Burnout: How to spot it, stop it, and stamp it out. It was a great book that got a big boost in sales when burnout became a hot topic.

Pick a topic you care about and think is important. Write your book about it. You’ll do well and maybe you’ll get lucky.

You’ll never finish your book if you wait for all the facts.

Face it, you’ll never get all the facts. When you’ve got about 60 to 70 percent of the facts you think you need, start writing. The writing process will flush out what facts you really need and show you why many of the facts you thought were important aren’t. When you start writing, you’ll discover things that make your understanding of the topic and the book better.

You will never finish your book if you wait until you have time.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who are waiting to start writing their book until they have time. They never seem to find it because there’s always something else to do. That’s how it was for my dad.

He was a Lutheran pastor and he wanted to write a book about the chaplains in the World War II German Wehrmacht. It seemed like a good topic. He had the language skills and connections to make it work. But he was busy, so he said he’d write the book when he retired.

He retired early. My mother had terminal cancer and they wanted to travel together while they could. After she died, Dad took several interim pastorates. He retired four times, but always found something to do that involved being a pastor. He never wrote the book, but I don’t think he ever missed it.

Takeaways

You’ll never finish your book if you depend on inspiration.

You’ll never finish your book if you expect it to be perfect.

You’ll never finish your book if wait for a clear signal from the market.

You’ll never finish your book if you wait for all the facts.

You’ll never finish your book if you wait until you have time.

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