If you’re like me, you’ve started a big project only to get busy or distracted and the project sits and sits until you’ve totally forgotten about it. But, if that project is important enough, you’ll eventually come back to it and finish what you’ve started. This happened to me with my second book: I wrote maybe a third or a half of the content, then I moved 800 miles across the country and had a baby. That book manuscript sat on my hard drive for almost a year before I finally picked it back up and self-published it. But, I’m really glad that I did come back and finish the book. It fits a unique space in my business—it’s a low-cost way for my audience to get a lot of information—and it definitely is helping people.
But, there are times when it doesn’t make sense to keep writing a book you’ve been working on. There’s a season for everything in your business, and sometimes it’s the season to temporarily shelve your book manuscript…or to put it aside entirely. In some cases, your book may actually bring you further from your goals, and writing it can actually be a waste of precious time. I know that you don’t have time to waste.
This episode is meant to help you figure out whether you should keep writing your book or if you should just walk away from it. There are three big instances when I think you should completely walk away from writing your book, and I want to share those instances with you here. My hope is that by listening to this episode, you’ll be able to decide if you should keep writing now, put your book aside for a little while, or scrap the project entirely.
WHEN TO WALK AWAY FROM THE NONFICTION BOOK YOU’RE WRITING
These are the three major times when I think you should walk away from writing your nonfiction book:
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YOU’RE NOT PASSIONATE ABOUT YOUR BOOK OR THE TOPIC ANYMORE.
Writing a book takes effort. If you’re not passionate about what you’re writing about, it’s going to be very difficult to find the drive and discipline to finish writing. If you’re constantly coming up with excuses about why you can’t write today or finding something else to do during your writing time, that’s a sign that you’re not passionate about your book anymore.
This happens in all sorts of creative endeavors. We start something because we’re really excited about it, but then the excitement wains and it’s hard to follow through. In some cases, you can push through and finish, like if you signed up for a six-week watercolor painting class. But, if you’ve lost your passion and drive to write your book, it’s going to be an uphill battle to finish it, and your writing is probably not going to be your best work, either. Plus, you’re not going to be motivated to promote your book, which makes it much less likely that your book will actually be successful.
I have a friend who’s a popular blogger and she’s been writing a book for years—literally. She’s been working on the book off and on since at least 2015, but she’s always struggled to finish it, despite taking writing retreats and setting aside time to specifically work on writing her manuscript. I know she still really cares about the general topic, but it’s a huge struggle to finish up the book.
In instances like this, I think it’s smart to walk away from your book for a while. Some time and distance will allow you to get some perspective. Often when you’re not actively pushing yourself to work on your manuscript, you’ll get sparks of creativity that will pull you back to writing. But, if you don’t work on it for several months and the thought of writing your book still fills you with a sense of dread, I’d walk away from the project. You can always save your work if you do want to come back to it in the future. However, you don’t need to push yourself to work on something that’s no longer inspiring you.
If this is you, you could temporarily shelve your book and come back to it in a couple of months to see if you’re motivated to write. If you’re not, maybe it’s not the right book for you.
If you really want to write a book, don’t get too discouraged. You may have just chosen the wrong topic to write about. Spend some time thinking about what you have to say and see if you can come up with a topic that you have a lot of passion for.
YOUR BOOK ISN’T SOLVING A PROBLEM, OR YOUR AUDIENCE DOESN’T NEED IT.
Sometimes we come up with a great idea for a book, only to realize that it solves a problem that doesn’t exist. You might also find that your audience doesn’t really need a book on your topic.
For example, your followers might prefer learning about that subject in a different medium, like video or audio. I’ve personally found this is often true with people who are interested in learning more about yoga. My books definitely fill a niche—people who would rather read about yoga and yoga poses—but there are many people who would much rather watch a video. (That’s why I also sell a video-based program on my fitness blog.)
This is why it’s smart to survey your audience before you get started, or before you get too deep into your book. Ask them if they would buy a book on your topic. Even better, ask them if they would buy it for your anticipated list price. Save yourself the pain of writing a book that no one wants to buy!!!
Your book also may not accurately reflect the struggles they’re going through, or it might not be the best solution to their problems. Here’s an example: you hear from your audience that they don’t have time to cook healthy meals. So, you decide to write a cookbook with recipes that can be made in 20 minutes or less. But, as you’re writing the cookbook, you keep talking to your audience and realize that their true struggle comes from figuring out meals that their kids will eat, too—they were spending so much time cooking because they were preparing different meals for themselves and their kids. In that case, it would be smart to shift the focus of your book over to fast, kid-friendly meals that the whole family will love.
THE BOOK DOESN’T FIT INTO THE BIG PICTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS.
It’s really important to make sure that the book you’re writing fits into the big picture of your business. If it doesn’t writing and publishing your book can be a huge waste of time. This can happen if you change niches or the overall focus of your business. Or, it can just happen naturally when you’re passionate about a lot of things but you find your audience is really excited about one thing in particular.
Here’s an example: if your business focuses on helping women over 40 lose weight, you may want to scrap your book on having a fit pregnancy because although women over 40 do get pregnant, those two groups aren’t likely to overlap. Plus, you might confuse your over-40 audience, making them wonder whether you’re actually the right person to help them because you seem to be an expert in prenatal fitness, not over-40 fitness.
Remember, your book really helps solidify your expert status. It shows your audience what you want to be known for. So, make sure your book topic is on brand. Plus, your audience is coming to you for advice in your niche (over-40 fitness in our example). They’re going to want to buy your book on over-40 fitness, not prenatal fitness.
This also makes your book a much more effective lead in to other products. For example, your over-40 fitness book can be the perfect lead in to your over-40 online bootcamps and weight loss coaching. Your prenatal fitness book? Not so much.
Don’t confuse your audience! Stay on brand.
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