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


“So I have this idea for a book …”

A beautiful statement. Unless that’s all it is, and nothing more.

There are hundreds of writers out there who have great ideas but nothing to show for it. It doesn’t mean they aren’t good at what they do or that their ideas don’t have potential. It’s just that, the difference between an aspiring writer and an accomplished writer (both terms used loosely, not meant to offend) is that accomplished writers … well, write.

And you might write all the time. Small things. Stories, poems, 1,000+ word posts on Tumblr. But writing a book is still a dream yet to come true, and though you want to, and know you could … you just can’t start.

We won’t lie and say starting a book is the hardest part about writing one. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging. Ideas actually aren’t hard to come by; it’s putting them to paper that puts us on the struggle bus (sorry).

Here’s what might be holding you back from writing that first word—and how to overcome the barriers.

1. You’ve tried, but can never get past the first few sentences

Writing a full-length book isn’t easy. There are a lot of names to remember and events to put in some form of chronological order. And when it comes to fiction, it’s all entirely made up. There is so much room for error and there are so many blank pages to fill (of an indefinite number), getting started—other than just a few lines you came up with on the spot—is probably the hardest part.

Don’t forget there’s no rule that says you have to write your book from beginning to end. If you know how you want the story to end, and you think that will help you figure out how to work backwards and make more progress, start with the end. Don’t forget writing terribly is how writers learn and refine their skills. Even if what you’re writing isn’t your best, it’s still something. You’ve still started. You’re still writing. YOU GOT THIS.

 2. You keep getting distracted (by everything)

Netflix. Your cat. Stalking John Green on Instagram (what?). Distractions are everywhere and they are our worst enemy. You may have been saying you want to write a book for months, for years, and it just hasn’t happened yet. It isn’t that you don’t have ideas or motivation or that you don’t want to. You just never seem to get to it.

Honestly? Just sit down, open whatever program you use to record your masterpieces (or you would, if you ever got to writing them) and type. Go. Right now. Don’t even finish reading this. If what you need is someone to beat you over the head with your own procrastination until you take the plunge, there you go. We’re waiting.

 3. You’re already working on another project

Sometimes you’ve already committed yourself to another writing project, and you have no choice but to put your other ideas to the side. Sometimes you’re just busy—with work, with school, with managing IRL relationships (or all of the above).

If this is your barrier, you’re not eternally doomed. Sometimes putting off one idea to finish off and seal another can really help you make a quick, effortless jump from the end of one to the start of the next. If you’re just busy, but really want to make writing part of your schedule, you really need to sit down and figure out how you can fit it in. Everyone is different. Some work best in the morning; others, at night. Some are most productive writing a few hundred words a day during lunch. It’s really up to you. If you’re really set on making it happen, you’ll always find a way.

You have an idea. You even have a few specific lines in mind. You can almost see it in your head, the events of the story playing out in front of you. Yet here you are, sitting in front of a blank document, hands over your keyboard…afraid?

That feeling? This moment? It’s how you know you’re going to write this thing, and it’s going to be good. It’s already part of you. It’s ready for you.

Go. Start. Write something. Then you can say, “I started writing a book” instead.

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.