Back in 2002, the independent publishing services firm The Jenkins Group released a survey that said 81% of Americans feel they have a book in them. To which noted writer and editor Joseph Epstein wrote that he has little faith in Americans’ abilities to do so.
In fact, most people never get that book out of themselves and onto paper. Santoli Communications estimated 97% of people who start a book never finish it. Looked at another way, that’s 30 out of 1,000 people.
If you had a book in you, what would keep you from writing it and completing it?
Go online and you’ll find a wide variety of reasons that book never gets written (I found 12). These include not being able to figure out the ending, deadlines that are too tight, fear or success/failure/vulnerability, a loss of inspiration, writer’s block, naysayers are getting in you head, and you no longer love the story. All are valid, but some make more sense than others.
I have found the real answer is being disorganized or undisciplined.
Losing inspiration and not knowing how to end a book are reasons people don’t finish a book. But inspiration can (and often does) return, which can help you fall in love with the story again. Or you can take the story into a new direction that rekindles the love. Writer’s block also can (and often does) end. Asking trusted sources how to end a book can lead to ideas that generate the actual ending. Deadlines can always be moved.
As for fear, if you feel the feelings and do it anyway, you’ll find you’re able to finish that book. I’m not saying that’s easy, but it is doable. The same goes for ignoring the naysayers. It’s not easy, especially if you value their opinions, but it’s possible.
But disorganization and a lack of discipline can permanently end things. What I’ve found is people who don’t finish their books often don’t realize that there is a big difference between having the idea and actually writing it.
People with ideas often lack the ability to organize them into a coherent structure that a book demands. Working with a professional helps the idea person stay organized, not go off on unnecessary tangents, and provide a pathway to completing the book.
The bottom line: The more worthwhile and compelling your story is, the more critical it is to have a professional writer give it the treatment it deserves. That’s why it’s so important to partner with a specialist who’s an expert in the art of storytelling. These people go by various names: ghostwriter, journalist, editor. Regardless, your story is too important to leave to an amateur.
Imagine cradling a book in your arms. See yourself thumbing through the pages, reading the words, recognizing that what’s contained therein is your story, laid out for all to see. This symbol of your life is part catharsis and part healing. Your journey is complete, and you’ve reached the people who needed to hear your story.