Back to Writing – How to Finish the Book You Started and Set Aside

Sometimes, for any number of reasons, even the most well-intentioned writers need to put book projects aside before they’re complete. Maybe they need to get clear about what they really want to say. Maybe they have another big project they need to focus on. Or maybe they just don’t know what to do next and they move onto something else. I know I’ve been in all those situations before. So what’s the best thing you can do? Get back into it!

Just because you set something aside, doesn’t mean you’ll never finish it. All it takes is a decision to finish what you started. However, whether you set your book aside because of time, because you needed space to get clear on the topic, or because you just finished a draft and had no idea what to do next, picking up where you left off can be a challenge.

A few weeks ago, I started working on a half-finished book that I’d set aside nearly a year ago. For various reasons, I needed time away from it so I could focus on finishing other projects. And although I didn’t plan on being away for a year, the past is the past, and we do what we can. But I realized that the longer I waited, the harder it would be. And I was (am) still passionate enough about the book to make sure it doesn’t languish in this unfinished state for eternity. So I made the decision to do it. “Work on book” went back on my to-do list, and I cleared the space in my schedule to fit it in.

With the decision made, I spent an evening with my journal, thinking about what I REALLY wanted this book to accomplish. What did I most want to say? When I set this book aside, I did so, in part, because the meaning of all my ideas hadn’t become clear to me yet. I didn’t know what exactly what I wanted to say, and we all know that’s not a very productive place to write from. Therefore I decided to take a few months off to think about it. Now that I was back, facing 150 or so disjointed manuscript pages, I wanted to go into the project with the clarity I lacked before. Thankfully, those months away allowed me to return with some much-needed perspective.

After getting clear on what exactly I wanted my book to communicate, I started reading. I started at the beginning and read everything I’d written so long ago. Some parts were delightfully close to what I wanted them to be. But others were so disconnected from my new, clear message that they may even need to be edited out. Either way, I started working on it again! And no matter how long you’ve been sitting on your unfinished book, you can do the same.

Start by revisiting and getting clear on what you REALLY want your book to be about-the foundation of the book, as I like to call it-and then read what you have with fresh and critical eyes. Seeing where you need to go from there will be much easier, and you’ll be able to jump in and write with the same energy you had when you started writing the book, no matter how long ago that was!

Melinda Copp helps aspiring nonfiction, business, and self-help authors get clear on their story and book idea, and figure out how to put it all together so their ideal readers love it. Visit for a free copy of her “Jump Start Your Book E-course!” and get your book started now.

Author: Melinda Copp
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