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Most People Never Finish Writing Their Book

Six Reasons Why Authors Don’t Finish Their Book and How to Change That


by Zoe Wynns/

It sounds like a cynical platitude, but there are actual statistics behind this disheartening statement. According to The Synergy Whisperer, ninety-seven percent of people who start to write a book NEVER finish it. In simpler terms, out of every 1,000 people who start a book, only thirty actually complete it. In addition, only twenty percent of people who write a book actually publish it. That means that out of those 1,000 people, only six will walk away with a published book.

So, why do all these hopefuls with big dreams and blank paper end up with an unfinished novel permanently sitting on their computer? According to Gatekeeper Press, there’s a few reasons that this creativity slump could happen. And luckily, they all have some solutions attached.

Writing Discipline

The first is a lack of discipline. There is a much smaller chance that your book will ever be completed if you don’t create a consistent writing routine. It can be helpful to make a daily commitment to write X number of words and do everything in your power to complete the goal each day. It doesn’t have to be at the same time; some writers are most creative late at night while some need to get all their ideas out right when they wake up. No matter which type of writer you are, consistency is key. If you can set up and stick to a writing schedule based on a daily word count, you will be one step closer to finishing your book.

Writer’s Block

The next reason people fall off before completing their book is a lack of motivation or creativity. Unfortunately, almost every writer will hit a point in their book where they don’t see any possible next steps forward. Their creativity seems to run dry, and the demands of daily life are hounding them to focus on anything and everything but their book. In this case, it can be helpful to take a break from writing for a few days. Let your brain turn all your great ideas over as you take a moment to reconnect with the real world.

Striving for Perfectionism

The next potential reason that writers may not finish their book is perfectionism. Some writers would rather give up and throw the whole draft away rather than write something not to their standards. First, it’s important to remember that a first draft is just that—a draft. Nothing that spews forth from your brain on the first try is going to be perfect. There will be rounds of editing, cutting, adding, cleaning up words, and everything to mold the first draft into something that could actually be published. Although it can be difficult, remember that you can’t hold yourself to any quality standard; you’re trying to simply push to writing a book’s conclusion. Getting it done is the most important thing at this early stage of writing a book, and it’ll be worth celebrating once you do so, regardless of how much editing may need to happen later down the line.

No Book-Writing Plan

Another reason that people don’t finish writing their book is lack of direction or lack of a plan. Many people just want to start writing their book with a blank page, no ideas, and see what happens. That might work for short stories, to a certain degree. But for novels? Even the most anti-outlining person needs to have at least a general idea of the story foundation. It doesn’t have to be a huge, multi-page outline with every page planned out to the T. But you at least need to have written a couple of sentences about the premise of your story. This will keep you anchored, give you direction, and keep you moving the right way—towards the conclusion.

Author Support System

Another interesting, unrealized reason for unfinished manuscripts is lack of a team. Yes, writing a book is a solo endeavor ninety-five percent of the time, but if you start writing a novel without a support system to keep you strong and moving in the right direction, more than likely you’ll fail. Keep your friends and family in the loop in your writing process. Let them know where you are, what characters and storylines you’re excited about, what you need from them to be successful in racing towards the finish line. It is also very valuable to create relationships with other writers. There are countless resources online that you can become a part of and meet other writers, people just like you who will build you up and believe in you, even when you’re having a hard time believing in yourself. Share your struggles with them, talk through your plot holes and moments of writers’ block. Chances are that most of them have been through the same thing.


A final reason that people never finish writing their books is fear. Fear of failure, fear of not finishing, fear OF finishing, fear of creating something horrible, fear of creating something beautiful but not knowing what to do with it. To that, the only advice I can give is totrust your instincts. Reach deep down for the part of you that loves writing, that sent you on this crazy novel-writing endeavor in the first place. That’s the part of you that will see you through to finish this process and take you straight to the end.

Writing is one of the most unpredictable crafts in the world. A rare few have a clear-cut direction of where they’re going when they start a novel, and even those who do often change it along the way. There’s no 100 percent path to success on this creative, terrifying, beautiful process called novel writing. At the end of the day, if you have a plan, a support system, and a willingness to be imperfect, chances are that you’ll find yourself typing up those last few words much sooner than you realize. And that feeling? It’s unforgettable.

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