Rescue Your Unfinished Book

Previously, I listed 10 top tips to help you get back on track with your book. Whether you are grappling with your structure, your topic or your content, these tips will give you some insight into how to solve the problem. Here are the top tips again:

Top Tip 1: Get feedback, preferably from a professional editor
Top Tip 2: Create a book plan so you know whether you have the right content
Top Tip 3: Check the structure works by looking at the contents list
Top Tip 4: Check your subject is right for your business and for you as an author
Top Tip 5: Work out where this book fits within your business
Top Tip 6: Make sure you are clear on your key points
Top Tip 7: Create a writing schedule
Top Tip 8: Finish writing before you start revising and editing
Top Tip 9: Focus your book if you have too much content
Top Tip 10: Add more detail if you have too little content

Below are the details of the eighth tip on what you can do to get your book back on track. Often, problems with our book get inflated in our minds as we grapple with uncertainties and doubts about our book projects.

When we discover flaws in our thinking or start to doubt the messages or approach of our book we sometimes attempt to solve the problems before we have finished the book. What happens is that our attention switches to revising our work before we have actually produced a finished first draft.

This approach, however, only succeeds in stalling us further and leaves us in an unresolved loop of revision that we cannot escape until we remember to write again.

Top Tip 8: Finish writing before you start revising and editing

While none of us wants to spend time finishing a book that we have lost our way with, sometimes the only thing to do is to simply start writing again regardless of the doubts and uncertainties that are haunting us.

What happens when you start to edit before you have finished writing is that you become a critic before you have finished being a writer. This is completely destructive and will make any kind of creative work very difficult. You cannot create anything if you are critiquing it at the same time – the critic and creator inhabit different parts of your brain and cannot work together.  So focus on finishing the writing before you start to engage the part of your brain you use to criticise and revise your work, otherwise you may never finish it.

Don’t read what you have written

To do make this work, make a conscious effort not to read back what you have written before. If you have stopped writing half way through a section, just leave it. If you have got half way through a chapter the best thing is to leave it.

If you don’t have your headings worked out for the rest of the chapters in your book, do that first. If you are not sure whether you need to write a chapter you have planned to write, just leave it. Move on to the next chapter that you are confident that you want and need to write.

Allow yourself to get into the flow of writing again. Do not get bogged down in worrying about whether what you are writing now fits with what you started writing. This is something you can sort out when you start revising your book.

The goal at this point is to finish the writing process. Once you have done that, you can stand back with a finished first draft and start working out what you need to change (if anything). Work out a comprehensive book plan at this point and use it as a point from which you can identify the changes you need to make.

How you get stuck

dead end
Constant revising leaves you on the road to nowhere

It is far too easy to get stuck when you are writing. One glitch or change of mind can make you feel as if the whole project is flawed. However, that is rarely the case. Doubts and fears can bring on the kind of negative thinking that has you believe you need to abandon the whole book because one small part of it is not working.

If you are having doubts, seek out some support or feedback that can reassure you that the book you are writing is not fatally flawed. Writing requires confidence so get yours back in whatever way you can so you can move forward.

Remember, it is after you have finished the first draft of your book that you start the job of revising your book, not before. You can also seek professional help from an editor or get feedback so you can identify the real problems, rather than the ones you have escalated in your mind.

Finishing anything is powerful. It marks the end of one stage and the beginning of another. So if you can finish the book you originally set out to write, you will move forward to the next stage in the process of publishing a book: revision and editing.

You might also like

        »  Finish writing your first draft before you start doing revisions
        »  Editing – why, how much and when?
        »  How to do online market research for your book
        »  10 Top Tips to Rescue Your Unfinished Book
        »  A Brief Guide to the Book Publishing Process

Deborah Taylor
Deborah Taylor

Hi, I'm Deborah Taylor and I'm a publishing consultant and book-writing mentor. I work with established business owners who want to share their message by writing a book but are struggling to get started (or finished). I help them write, publish and launch a stand-out, attention-grabbing book that will raise their profile, reach more of their ideal clients and grow their business. I am a trained editor with over 15 years' publishing experience with major blue-chip UK publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. I have produced books on every subject under the sun and with professinals and experts from a wide range of professions, from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and career consultants. I would love to help you write a book you love and that will raise your profile, attract new clients and bring you exciting new business opportunities.