Seven Ways to Ensure You Will Not Finish Writing Your Book

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Writer

So many people have a good idea for a book. So many set out to write their book. And most never finish the first draft.

I came to a conclusion on this: there must be a lot of good advice out there on how to ensure your book does not get written. After extensive research of said sources, these are the seven best tips I unearthed:

1) Spend all of your time building a platform, and no time writing your book. There’s really no point in finishing the book anyway, unless your name is Seth Godin, or you look really good bald.

2) Writing comes naturally, right? I mean, once you can spell, you’re good to go. So make sure you’re not reading books about writing or challenging yourself to grow as a writer or honing your craft. Those things would all be a waste of time.

3) At some point during the writing of your book, you may be tempted to give up. This is the best time to latch on to a completely new topic and never finish the initial book. Perseverance is overrated.

4) Get caught up in endless revisions of your work BEFORE THE FIRST DRAFT IS COMPLETE. This way you will never have a finished product to contemplate, and you can be sure that the repeated editing will eventually lead to the death of that idea. And that’s really the key to never finishing a book – killing the idea before it takes hold of you.

5) Keep getting ready to start, but don’t actually begin. Take copious notes on your topic. Spend hours researching Wikipedia. Write twenty pages of title ideas and chapter headings and scene selections. But don’t ever start stringing complete sentences together – that part is difficult and also overrated. Besides, books are most often made of sentences, so if you can avoid them, you can avoid actually writing a book.

6) Write sporadically. Working on a book-length project is like working out. The more consecutive days you do it, the easier each ensuing day becomes. Certainly don’t start something ridiculous like writing 1000 words a day: routines are powerful, so if you do not want to complete your book, avoid routines however you can. Annie Dillard says that routines are “a net for catching days,” so cut your way through that net and tell yourself you will write when the muse strikes. Then lay down and take a nap. Or better yet, eat some ice cream.

7) Let everything else take precedence over writing your book: your lunch hour, that extra hour you sleep in the morning, that Bachelorette show. There are so many more mind-numbing and mundane things to do than write an entire book. Why bother reaching a goal when you can watch other people reach their goals on television?

Now get out there and start not finishing that book!

What tips do you have to add to the list?

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Similar posts include:
Five Writing Lessons I’ve Learned in the First Half of Writing a Novel
How the Desire to be an Idol Will Keep You Off Track
A Net For Catching Days



6 Replies to “Seven Ways to Ensure You Will Not Finish Writing Your Book”

  1. This was great, Shawn! I’m sure you made some enemies with the Bachelorette comment, though.

    1. Ha! You’re probably right, Jon. Disclaimer: I don’t have anything against the Bachelorette (in fact, I love Knox McCoy’s posts on the show even though I’ve never watched it). I do struggle with people who have awesome gifts that remain unused mostly because they watch the national average of four and a half hours of television a day.

  2. Oh, you got me with #4. My fatal flaw. I’ve recently given myself a deadline to complete a first draft, instead of editing what I’ve got. So hopefully I’ll be exiting this list of pitfalls!

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