Overcoming 5 Common Roadblocks That Keep Writers From Finishing Their Books - article

Having an idea for a book is really easy. Starting a book is easy. But writing to the end is difficult and very few people actually reach their goal. Why is that? I believe it is because there are many obstacles on the path to a finished book.

Why do some authors get published and others do not? I have authored three books myself and have had hundreds of conversations with authors. From those chats, I have seen five common roadblocks that prevent writers from getting the manuscript to finished book. Below are the five things along with some ways you can overcome them.

"Most authors can write more in one good hour than in three hours when not in the right space or time."

Forgetting why you wanted to write the book.

There is usually some moment of inspiration or impetus that makes an author to want to write. It is very easy to forget that reason during the often long, difficult process of completing your manuscript. Motivation is tied to remembering why you started. A very simple solution is to take a piece of paper and write down why you wanted to write the book in the first place. Put that paper where you can see it every time you sit down to write. 

Losing the discipline of writing regularly.

One common thing I see in successful self-published authors is that they determine the best time to write and they block that time on the calendar. Every author who I have spoken to usually has a time that is better than others for them to write. Most authors can write more in one good hour than in three hours when not in the right space or time.

"It is important to know when you are most productive and make time to write."

I remember one time I was sitting with an author who is quite prolific. She has published more than 30 books and I wanted to test this theory with her, so I asked her, “Is there a particular time that you find yourself more productive in writing?” Before she could answer the question, her husband said, “5:30 in the morning.” He knew, being married to her, that there were times when she was more productive than others. It is important to know when you are most productive and make time to write. Other things will rush in and fill up the most productive time you have for writing, so make an appointment with yourself on your calendar and block that time.

Losing sight of the day you want to hold your book

A third roadblock I often see is writers losing sight of the day they want to hold the first copy of their book. Putting a deadline on the calendar and working toward that day is absolutely critical. For some authors, it is a real deadline like having books for a speaking engagement. But for others, it is a day they have deemed important. One of my favorite stories is an author who actually wanted to give everyone who attended his 50th birthday party a copy of his book…and he did.
So picture the day when you want to hold a copy of your book, then create a timeline to get there. You may need to work with someone to set the key milestones to make your goal, but without a deadline it is easy to have a project drift for months and even years.

Doubt takes over

It is common for doubt to creep in and paralyze your writing. Authors often wonder if their writing is any good or if anyone else will want to read it. Quite frankly, one of the most frightening things to do is to take something you’ve poured yourself into, hand it to someone else, let them read it and see what they think. Whether it’s someone close to you or a complete stranger, there is always a lingering fear of rejection.

Fortunately, there are a lot of online resources that can help you get feedback and make helpful connections. Sites like Book Country and the Author Learning Center are great resources. Conferences are also very helpful. (I personally think the Writer’s Digest Conference is quite good for writers at all experience levels.) Each of these resources provides a way to improve your work and help you gain confidence in what you are going to publish.

"...the reality is you never know what can happen until you get your book into the marketplace."

Doubt can manifest itself in a lot of different ways. You can doubt if your work is good, if anyone will want to read it, or if you can sell any books. But the reality is you never know what can happen until you get your book into the marketplace.

There is one particular author I worked with who had worked on his manuscript for 10 years. It was quite good, but he was unsure about actually getting it published. Finally, one day I looked at him and said, “Well, you know you can do a second edition,” and so he put that book into the marketplace. Yes he has sold copies, but more importantly, he has received comments from people all over the globe who have had a chance to read his book and enjoy it.

Unclear what you will do when you are done writing.

The last of the five roadblocks is when you are unclear about the next step once you’re done writing. This is very common among authors who are so focused on getting their manuscript done that they don’t know exactly how they are going to get published.
I have written a lot about this topic in the white paper, The Four Paths to Publishing. It lays out your options and guidelines for choosing the right path for your project.

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  • Thank you for your writing experience and insight.

  • Looks like this was helpful. Watch the site for more webinars I am going to offer. Also, feel free to share on social media.

  • Solid ideas--I quickly went to my journal to review all of my reasons for writing the book and then set January 1, 2016 as the date I want the final copy of my book in my hand. Thanks
  • Thank you, Kieth. The roadblocks you disscribed is what I have been dealing with. The information to overcome the roadblocks is very helpful to me.
  • Talent versus hard work. I am relying on the latter as I am not a talented or a born writer. Doubts crept in from all angles and I was about to be wiped out from the scene altogether when I stumbled upon your article. Instead of looking into the ways and means to overcome my stumbling blocks and paranoia, I spent most of my waking hours questioning my wisdom for wanting to be a writer in the first place. Your article has knocked some sense into my head and I am inspired to use it as a checklist on the long journey that I have envisioned for myself. Ranchitham, Malaysia.