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Why Most Coaches Never Finish Writing Their Book And How You Can

Dawn Josephson is a writing coach and book editor. She helps coaches, consultants, and professional speakers transform their ideas and expertise into impactful non-fiction books that enhance their credibility, boost their positioning, and ultimately increase their profits.

 
Executive Contributor Dawn Josephson

Did you know that only 10% of aspiring authors finish writing their books? Often, a lapse of motivation is to blame. For coaches, consultants, and speakers striving to establish credibility and showcase their authority via a published book, these statistics can be particularly disheartening. The good news is that you're not alone in this struggle, and there are proven strategies to help you beat the odds, maintain your motivation for writing, and ultimately publish your book.


Woman smiling holding glass mug sitting beside table with laptop

Regardless of your topic or proficiency in writing, the fact is that maintaining motivation is the most critical skill you need in order to see your book project through to completion. Without consistent drive and focus, you can easily get lost in the myriad of other responsibilities that demand your attention. Losing steam mid-way through your book can result in fragmented content and a loss of momentum, which inevitably diminishes your chances of finishing. Understanding how to keep that motivation alive is the key to not only completing your book but also ensuring that you effectively convey your insights. Following are the top three strategies to keep your motivation high in the midst of your book project.

 

1. Set clear goals, not necessarily SMART goals

Setting clear, defined goals has many psychological benefits that can make a significant difference in your writing journey. Goals provide a sense of direction, allowing you to channel your efforts toward a tangible objective. Additionally, creating and achieving these goals fosters a sense of accomplishment, which can be immensely motivating. Finally, breaking down a large, potentially overwhelming task into smaller, manageable parts makes the process less daunting, fostering continuous progress and preventing feelings of stagnation.

 

As a coach, consultant, or speaker, you are likely familiar with SMART goals. In fact, you probably recommend this goal-setting technique to your own clients. However, while the SMART goal framework—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound—has been widely accepted and promoted for its effectiveness for decades, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution, particularly for writers.

 

Given the unpredictable and non-linear nature of the creative process, many authors find that the rigid structure of SMART goals is too constraining. For some, SMART goals can stifle creativity, potentially leading to writer's block, as the forced adherence to practicality may overshadow spontaneous inspiration. Additionally, SMART goals may not always align with intrinsic motivations like passion and self-expression, which are often the primary drivers for writers. Most notably, the iterative nature of drafting and revising, inherent to most writing processes, doesn't always fit neatly into the specific and time-bound criteria set by SMART goals.

 

Recognizing the limitations of SMART goals, many writers find the following more fluid and adaptable goal-setting approaches beneficial.

 

Alternative goal-setting strategies

 

  • Milestone mapping: With this strategy, the writing journey is divided into significant, manageable milestones. Some examples include the Research Phase, Outline Creation, Chapter Writing, First Draft Completion, and Revisions and Edits. Utilizing tools like Gantt charts, progress bars, and writing journals, you can visually track your progress and celebrate each achievement to maintain motivation. This approach acknowledges the weight of each phase, providing you with a structured yet flexible framework to navigate through your project.

  • Agile writing method: While not a goal-setting strategy per se, the Agile Writing Method borrows principles from Agile project management. This method emphasizes short, manageable sprints—typically lasting 1-2 weeks—each with specific, achievable objectives. Daily check-ins, sprint reviews, and retrospectives are integral components, allowing you to assess your progress continually and make necessary adjustments. For instance, a two-week sprint plan could involve a goal to write two chapters, supplemented by daily check-ins with your writing coach to monitor progress and a retrospective at the end to evaluate what worked and what didn't. This iterative process aligns well with the dynamic nature of book writing.

  • The WOOP method: WOOP stands for Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. This goal-setting method offers a balance between positive visualization and realistic planning. By identifying a specific Wish or goal, visualizing the successful Outcome, recognizing potential Obstacles, and Planning if-then scenarios to overcome these challenges, you can maintain a clear vision while being prepared for setbacks. For example, if your wish is to complete a chapter in a week, you can visualize the end result, identify procrastination as a potential obstacle, and then make a plan to set a 10-minute writing timer whenever procrastination strikes. Through this method, you can harness the power of positive thinking while staying grounded in practical strategies to navigate obstacles.

 

Different goal-setting approaches can better resonate with various people, especially considering the unique and often unpredictable nature of the creative process. Whether through Milestone Mapping, the Agile Writing Method, or the WOOP Method, finding the right strategy can significantly enhance your motivation, focus, and resilience. Ultimately, the key lies in discovering and adopting a goal-setting framework that aligns with your individual writing style and intrinsic motivations, providing both structure and flexibility to navigate the journey of writing effectively.

 

2. Create a writing routine

Establishing a regular writing routine can greatly enhance your motivation, productivity, and the quality of your work. By writing consistently, you maintain momentum, which makes it easier to continue where you left off. This reduces the mental strain of starting from scratch every time you sit down to write. Regular writing sessions can also diminish procrastination. When you schedule writing as a normal part of your day, you have less inclination to put it off in favor of other activities. Over time, your routine builds writing stamina, allowing you to write more efficiently and for longer periods. Here are some tips for creating your writing routine.

 

  • Finding time: So how do you find the time in your busy schedule to write consistently? Fitting writing into a busy work schedule can indeed be challenging, but several strategies can help. One effective method is time blocking, where you allocate specific times of the day or week dedicated solely to writing. Whether it's early morning or late evening, utilizing quieter times can allow for focused and uninterrupted work. If lengthy writing sessions aren't feasible, consider micro-writing sessions. Writing in short, focused bursts, even just 15-20 minutes, can lead to significant progress over time. Both strategies help to seamlessly integrate writing into a hectic schedule.

  • Establishing routine: Creating and maintaining a writing routine begins with choosing a consistent schedule that fits your lifestyle. Identify times when you feel most creative and least likely to be interrupted. Establish a designated space for writing, free from distractions and conducive to focus. This could be a home office, a quiet corner of a room, or even a favorite coffee shop. Additionally, pre-writing rituals, such as making a cup of tea or doing light stretches, can signal the start of a writing session, helping you mentally prepare and transition into writing mode more smoothly.

  • Adapting to changes: Life is full of unexpected changes and busy periods, but you can still maintain your writing routine with some flexibility. Portable writing tools, such as a lightweight laptop or a notebook, allow you to write from different locations if needed. Adjusting your goals temporarily during particularly hectic times ensures that you remain productive without feeling overwhelmed. For instance, setting smaller, more manageable writing targets can keep your momentum going while accommodating your other responsibilities. By staying adaptable, you can sustain your writing practice regardless of life's unpredictability.

 

3. Differentiate between intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation

Understanding the motivations that drive us is essential for cultivating a sustainable and successful writing habit. Intrinsic motivation refers to the drive that comes from within, fueled by internal satisfaction and a genuine interest in the task. This might include a passion for the subject, personal fulfillment derived from creating something meaningful, or the desire to share valuable knowledge. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is powered by external factors such as deadlines, financial incentives, and recognition from peers or the public. While both forms of motivation can be effective, understanding when and how to tap into each is crucial for completing your manuscript.

 

Intrinsic motivation: The heart of writing

Intrinsic motivation is what drives many coaches, consultants, and speakers to want to write a book. This type of motivation is what transforms writing from a chore to a fulfilling experience. Writing about your life’s work or other topics you are passionate about makes writing enjoyable and connects your book with your core values. This intrinsic passion often fuels deeper engagement and creativity. When you view writing as a path of personal and professional growth, you enhance your perseverance and are able to sustain your book writing momentum. Furthermore, focusing on how your writing can help or inspire others infuses your work with purpose, creating a ripple effect that extends beyond the page.

 

Utilizing extrinsic motivation: External catalysts for progress

While intrinsic motivation is vital, extrinsic factors provide necessary structure and urgency, making them indispensable in hitting tangible targets. Setting realistic deadlines helps maintain momentum and avoids procrastination. Coupling deadlines with accountability, such as partnering with another writer, joining a writing group, or hiring a writing coach, elevates your commitment and provides mutual encouragement. Extrinsic rewards, such as treating yourself after completing a chapter or meeting a milestone, can also serve as powerful incentives. These external motivators, when strategically used, act as catalysts that keep your writing process organized and goal-oriented.

 

Balancing motivations for sustained writing efforts

Successfully balancing intrinsic and extrinsic motivations can be the key to long-term writing success. By intertwining your personal passion with structured goals, you create a writing environment that is both inspiring and productive. Therefore, prioritize topics that excite you so you foster an authentic voice and genuine interest. Simultaneously, use extrinsic motivators to build discipline and track progress, ensuring consistent output. Setting up a system that marries the internal joy of writing with the external demands of the task creates a symbiotic relationship that sustains your enthusiasm while optimizing productivity. This balanced approach allows you to navigate the complexities of your creativity while maintaining a steady course towards your writing goals.

 

Conclusion

Imagine the moment when you hold your published book in your hands. Visualize having a tangible achievement that solidifies your expertise and enhances your credibility in the coaching, consulting, or speaking world. Remember, your book is more than just pages bound together; it is a door opener to new speaking engagements, a magnet that attracts new prospects, and a catalyst for deeper client relationships. Picture the conversations you'll spark with potential clients. Envision the increased trust that comes from audiences who've read your insights and advice, making them more likely to seek your services.

 

But the impact of your book extends beyond mere business growth; it also elevates your personal brand and creates your legacy. Your ideas and methodologies will no longer be just spoken words that dissipate with time; they'll be a well-rounded, permanent narrative that influences others. Readers will carry your wisdom into their own lives, attributing their successes and breakthroughs to your teachings. This ripple effect not only reinforces your authority but also fulfills the greater mission of your work—to genuinely help and inspire others.

 

Don't let a lack of motivation prevent you from turning this dream into reality. Every word you write brings you closer to becoming the thought leader you aspire to be. Stay focused and remind yourself why you started this journey. Apply the strategies that successful authors employ to complete their books: setting goals, maintaining a writing routine, and balancing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. When you do, you'll soon earn your spot on those bookstore shelves.

 

I encourage you to take that pivotal step today and begin—or continue—your writing journey with renewed vigor. If you need guidance or support, know that you don't have to navigate this path alone. Reach out to me for expert advice and personalized writing coaching. Together, we can bring your transformational book to life, amplifying your impact on the world and unlocking endless opportunities for your business.


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Read more from Dawn Josephson

 

Dawn Josephson, Writing Coach and Book Editor

Dawn Josephson is a seasoned writing coach and book editor, specializing in assisting coaches, consultants, and professional speakers. She has ghostwritten over 5,000 articles and 30 books, edited approximately 200 non-fiction works, and coached hundreds of authors from idea to published book. With a background as Editor-in-Chief for a national magazine and various roles in publishing, Dawn brings a wealth of experience to her clients. She holds a BA in English from Rollins College and has been featured in prominent media outlets such as HuffPost, USA Today, and Investor’s Business Daily. Dawn's approachable style empowers her clients to share their expertise and create impactful, legacy-worthy books.

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