Are you struggling to finish writing your first book?
The American writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald, once said:
“All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”
Fitzgerald is right, but that doesn’t mean you need to stay underwater so long or spend so much time trying to finish your book, you never come up for air.
So, please, don’t turn writing a book into a harder task than it needs to be.
I want to help you avoid doing that.
In this post, I’ll explain five of the most common writing mistakes new authors commit when they try to finish writing their first book.
1. Struggling to Find Time to Write
Between your job, family, and personal life, finding time to write your book is difficult.
Getting a writing schedule in place or even finding time to write is a real struggle when you’re new at this.
Yes, you can accomplish a lot done in a week, but why is it so difficult to write your book every day?
Even when you write for just 25 minutes, it doesn’t help that writing the initial draft takes a lot of time.
And that’s before you try to balance work and family life with what you’re doing on the blank page.
What you need is a writing routine to set yourself up for the day, so you can accomplish your most important work, before the demands of the day take over.
2. Not Organising Your Ideas for Your Book
Do you, sometimes, feel so excited about an idea for a chapter that you can’t wait to write about it?
When it’s time to write a chapter , instead of writing just 500 words, you get lost for hours doing research.
You spend hours clicking and browsing from one blog post to the next or reading books you love, and you struggle to organise ideas for your book.
Or, you get so excited about a new idea, you either get distracted from writing your book, or you have to force yourself not to abandon it entirely.
Here’s the problem:
Jumping rapidly from one idea to the next is the quickest way to waste your time, and it won’t help you pursue any idea to its conclusion.
To finish writing your book, you need to pick one idea and stick with it until it’s done and then move on to the next idea.
3. Editing and Writing Your Book at the Same Time
Have you ever written a paragraph , rewrote it, written another paragraph, and then went back and rewrote that, too?
And on and on and on….
An hour goes by.
You realise you have written nothing. All you’ve done is rewrite the same part of your book.
I used to write like this all the time. I spent hours tinkering with my sentences, and I went back repeatedly to perfect them.
This is a terrible way to write your book. Here’s why:
When you try to write and edit at the same time, you’re doing TWO different activities.
The part of your brain that must write to get ideas out of your head and organise them — your internal writer — shies away from your inner editor.
The part of your brain that takes your first draft and turns it into something that shines — your internal editor — does his or her best work when you have a complete first draft.
4. Wanting Your Book to be Perfect
Do you struggle with self-doubt? Perhaps, you wonder if what you’re saying really connects with people? Do they even care?
Perfectionism is a nasty vice almost every new writer must overcome.
When you’re new to the craft, your writing probably isn’t good enough, but should you give up being a writer?
Your desire to improve your book and become a better writer is noble . However, if you freeze when you put your hands on the keyboard…
If your fear is holding you back from finishing your book, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Neil Gaiman would agree.
He says, “You learn by finishing things.”
By completing specific writing exercises, you will learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.
You’ll be doing the one thing new writers need: practice.
5. Wondering Will People Care
‘What will my mother say when she finds out I’m writing about sex?’
‘What will my friends think when they catch me writing about the world and all its ugly imperfections?’
‘What will my wife/husband do when they see themselves in my book?’
New writers find it difficult to separate their personal lives from their work.
Fiction writers often face a disconcerting moment when they reread a piece and find parts of their personal lives scattered on the page.
I’ll never forget the first time my wife read a short story I’d submitted to a competition.
She asked if the woman in the story was her. I didn’t admit it then, but she was right.
FINISH Your Book
Sometimes, I make embarrassing writing mistakes.
Last year, I spent two months rewriting a book when I should have concentrated on publishing my new book, but that’s okay.
I still fall, but I read as much as I can about writing, creativity and productivity.
I use what I discover to fall forwards, instead of falling down.
In the next couple of days, I’m going to debunk the most common myths about writing and finishing a book.
Then, I’ll give you a new formula for finishing your first book without having to listen to superficial advice like ‘don’t be lazy’.
This carefully crafted formula is based on years of observation of how the field of productivity relates to the craft of writing.
Soon, you too can finish your book, and I’ll show you how!