You’ve written a lot. It’s taken months. Maybe even years. But still your book isn’t finished. Why can’t you step over that final threshold? What’s stopping you from getting those last few chapters out? Will you ever be able to move on?
Surveys show that 89% of people would like to write a book—but just 1% go on to publish. So why do so many people fall by the wayside? Writing a book is hard, and most authors need a nudge to get over the finishing line. Here are 6 things to try to finally get your book out of your way and get it out into the world.
You could be trying to write too broadly about your subject. Lack of focus is one of the main reasons authors give up, as they find themselves swimming in too much information. Try refining your topic to the next level down. For example, if you’re writing about digital marketing, try ‘Digital Marketing for Social Media Haters’ instead. Niche your subject and your book will not only become more commercial, it will be a lot easier to write.
Give chapters a name
If your document has no chapter titles or just ‘Chapter 1’ as the heading, try writing down exactly what each chapter is about. Use plain English to describe the one point your reader needs to take away. Giving your chapters focus could clarify your structure enough to finish the book. And here’s a top tip: when writing chapter titles, either make them blindingly obvious (‘How to use Instagram’) or intriguing (‘Don’t forget to make your bed’). Don’t land in between (‘Maximising Pictorial Social Media Channels’).
Some writers struggle to finish their book because they don’t know when to stop. Gary Provost recommends looking at the last sentence of your chapter. What does the reader lose if you delete it? If the answer is nothing, cross it out. Then do the same with the next-to-last sentence. And so on. Don’t be the dinner guest who stands at the door taking half an hour to say goodbye.
Set yourself a word count
When you started your book, did you set yourself a word count? It’s amazing how many writers begin without a target. To finish your book quickly, see how much you’ve already written and then look at what’s left. Set a remaining word count for the book, divide this by the days in the month and commit to writing that number of words each day. Whether they’re good or bad doesn’t matter—they just need to exist.
Write a roadmap
For each chapter of your book, as yourself what’s the very first thing your reader needs to know. You can draw a map, or a set of steps. Carry on with each stage until you’ve got your reader to their solution. Drawing a plan like this can halve the time it takes to write a chapter.
One way to get your book finished is to stop reading what you’ve written. Editing as you go makes you lose confidence, because we’re our own worst critics when it comes to writing. Ignore poor style and keep going—there’ll be plenty of time for editing when you’ve finished your draft.