Three Things Stopping You from Finishing Your Book (and How to Handle Them)

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You’re almost done. You’re working on it. You’re just taking a little break is all.

Excuses. We all dish them out to our family, followers and friends in an attempt to explain why that book we keep claiming to be writing isn’t finished yet.

There are all kinds of barriers to clear thought and creative productivity. Don’t let them keep you from achieving your biggest literary ambitions.

Here are three common struggles—and how to continue writing anyway. 

The pieces aren’t coming together 

Not everyone writes their stories in chronological order, but even if you do, sometimes loose ends just refuse to be tied up. You might feel like your story is almost finished, but those tiny plot holes scrape at the back of your mind constantly. The frustration can be enough to make you want to quit.

Please, don’t give up. Not when you’ve already come so far. The thing about first drafts is, they’re drafts. No writer’s first draft is flawless. You’ll go back in for revisions and find errors you never noticed before anyway. If there are plot holes, you are allowed to fill them in later. Let the satisfaction of having finished writing a book—technically—have a chance to lift your spirits first.

You keep starting on other projects

Often, when ideas arrive, they’re here to stay. Even after writing them down and trying to walk away, it isn’t always easy to keep them out of mind. Sometimes we have to set aside what we’re doing and put just enough work into a new idea to satisfy the craving for a while. But sometimes, we get caught up in it. It becomes impossible to pull away, and before we know it, that first project becomes an abandoned stream of thought.

The best way to handle this problem is to train yourself to be able to work on multiple projects at once. Think of your day job (if applicable—school works too), and how you (hopefully) focus large chunks of time on those projects, come home to your ideas and type away the second you get the chance. You can do the same with multiple larger writing projects. Try splitting your time evenly between them. Even just a few sentences here and there still counts.

You’re afraid to say goodbye

This is an odd one, but it happens more often than you might think. We spend months, maybe even years watching our plots develop and our characters change and grow. We fall in love with our art—it’s completely normal. But when the end draws near, reality hits: in some cases, when you finish writing, end of story (literally). Your characters go on to live out their adventures without you.

There will be other stories, and other characters to bond with. If you know it’s going to be an emotional occasion—yes, writers have cried after finishing books—look at it as a good thing. If you’re attached to your story and your characters, it means you’re doing something right. If they feel real to you, they’ll feel real to your future readers, too. It’s okay to want to hold on. But before a book can thrive on its own, you need to let it go. And before you can let it go, you need to finish it. No matter how emotionally draining the experience.

No matter your struggle, never forget what you’ve accomplished already. You’ve started writing a book! That’s quite a feat, friend. (If you’re having trouble starting one, that post is coming soon.) The joy that comes with typing that last word, with saving that first draft for the last time and putting it to rest for a while, it’s worth it.

If writing a book were easy, we’d get bored. A bored writer is a dangerous creature. Avoid close contact at all costs.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

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9 thoughts on “Three Things Stopping You from Finishing Your Book (and How to Handle Them)

  1. Wow, you are prolific on this blog! Finishing my novel is my major bugbear at the moment. The hardest thing is that I keep underestimating how much work is left to do – even just to finish the first draft. I have a detailed outline, but I am still finding so many questions that the outline has left unanswered that trip me up when I sit down to write.

    1. Thanks! Glad you found some of our content helpful. :) Try taking it on in smaller pieces. It’s always good to think on a larger scale, but sometimes focusing in on one part, and working out those tangles there, might even help answer some of the other questions you haven’t resolved yet. KEEP GOING!! You CAN do it!

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