I am often approached by people who have amazing book ideas. They’ve got the ideas, they’ve got the passion, and they’ve even got some solid writing skills. So, why do they not finish their books? Based upon my experience working with writers, here are a few common pitfalls:
1. The perfectionist syndrome. Some people are SO particular about the words they pen, they get overwhelmed by the task. I have worked with a writer who has a lot of natural talent but doesn’t produce content quickly, because she is very particular about every word she writes. As a result, that brilliant book is still mostly inside her head.
Solution: Remember that the thing that separates the mediocre writer from the great writer is . . . editing. When you finish the rough draft of a book, you’re really only about 50% finished. The good news is that you have produced a great high-quality stone–and you’re now ready to start chiseling away to reveal the work of art inside.
2. The pack-rat syndrome. Some people (especially memoir writers) want to include EVERYTHING in their books, regardless of whether the content is relevant. So the author goes off on tangents and never really gets to the heart of the matter.
Solution: If an experience speaks to you, write it down. Then have a trusted friend hack away at the manuscript and eliminate everything that isn’t relevant to the stated purpose of the book. But make sure that friend is strong enough to tell you the honest truth.
3. The pressure-cooker syndrome. Let’s be honest. Most of us are impatient when it comes to getting our books published. But some people are too impatient–they don’t take the necessary steps to craft their books adequately. Then they read it, recognize that it’s not good (yet), grow frustrated, and quit.
Solution: Get a GREAT editor that is willing to look not just at line editing but at macro issues, as well–even while you are in the writing stage. You need a cheerleader to help you slow down, pace yourself, and crawl artistically to the finish line. If you self-publish, make sure that you hire an editor with a lot of experience who wants to make the book a work of art–not just technically accurate. If you publish with a traditional publisher like Sourced Media Books, make sure that your editor is concerned with both macro and micro changes, and be willing to listen to the proposed changes. A good editing job is absolutely imperative to a successful book.
If you have the perfectionist, pack-rat, or pressure-cooker syndrome, don’t worry. You can finish what you started! Shoot for one page per day, and see how quickly your book idea becomes a reality!