Why So Many People Never Finish Writing Their Books

The further you progress into a writing project, the more aware you become of the many components that have to somehow all fit together to make a whole.

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If you want to write a book, you’re not alone. Most people think they can and should.

Only a select few, compared to the whole, actually do it.

There are many reasons for this. One of them being that many people don’t realize what goes into writing a story until they actually start trying to write one.

You can’t just make up a few characters, put them somewhere, make them go on an adventure, and call it done. Stories, below the surface, are much more complicated than that.

Anyone can write a story. Not everyone can compose an impressive work of art only using words.

Think about that. Some of history’s greatest stories are just words on paper. And yet they transport us across time and space, pull us out of our own self-centered universes, and prompt us to see and think and believe things we may have never seen or thought or believed otherwise.

It seems so simple to achieve. But it isn’t.

There are so many moving parts. So many layers. The further you progress into a writing project, the more aware you become of the many components that have to somehow all fit together to make a whole.

It can feel overwhelming. So much so that instead of vowing to push through, to organize and configure al the elements so it all makes some sense, many writers just walk away.

There’s a reason writing advice doesn’t always help people succeed.

You can ask every expert or fellow writer you know of for suggestions about how to tell your story, productivity tips to help you get more writing done, and encouragement to help keep you going. But you still have to sit down and write the book. And edit and revise and rewrite it.

No one can do that for you.

What many people want is to feel good about having written something, to be praised for the work they’ve already done. But they don’t think about how they can get to that point.

Before you can feel good or be complimented, you have to actually write something. And mold and shape it until it’s somehow more than text arranged in descending lines on a page.

The joy you feel when things finally start coming together is what we all seek when we write things. But it doesn’t come easily. It takes time, and effort, and skill, and a refusal to give up.

Starting is one thing. Finishing — really finishing something that’s polished and ready for reading — is something completely different.

You won’t know if you have what it takes to achieve great things as a writer if you don’t try. And you won’t ever make it in writing if you don’t ever finish what you start.

The only thing you can do is take storytelling one element at a time.

Remember that no first draft is perfect, everyone starts out writing terribly, and just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you can’t do it.

Writing is hard. But that’s why it feels so good when we accomplish even the smallest of things.


Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.


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7 thoughts on “Why So Many People Never Finish Writing Their Books

  1. All true. I’d add though that you have to be able to call what you’ve written garbage, then start writing again. And again, and again, and again until you can truly say it’s finished.

  2. I’m in the middle of trying to write a trilogy of novels and another nonfiction/memoir style book and it is very hard. Thanks for sharing this with us. :)

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