How to Finish What You Start


Last week, my husband was trying to fix our old desktop computer, and he found a document I’d created and all but forgotten I’d started.

It’s imperfect. It’s clunky in places and will need lots of revision. But it’s the better part of a novel, and it’s worth finishing.

So how did I leave this novel unfinished and gathering dust on the hard drive?

I let myself get distracted by other things.

I was focused on serving my clients in new and better ways, building my business, and growing my business partnership.

I was focused on writing a different book that would directly impact my business.

I was focused on helping one daughter find the right college and the other handle the stress of medical school.

I was focused on meeting my obligations to friends and family.

All of those things are worthy of my time and attention. But so is my novel.

If you’ve started a book—or any other project—that matters to you, don’t let it get displaced by other important things. Make it a priority.

Here’s how to finish what you started:

  1. Carve out specific time to work on your project every day. Protect it ruthlessly.
  2. Ask someone you trust to hold you accountable for progress on a weekly, or even daily, basis.
  3. Treat this project exactly like you would if you needed to finish it to get your paycheck.

That’s what I’ve done to finish books in the past. And that’s what I’m doing to finish my novel in the next few months. I’ll let you know how it goes.

I help my coaching clients stay accountable for their progress and write to THE END. With Author Ally Email Coaching, you can reach out to me every day with your questions or ask me to reach out to you every day to help you stay on track.

Don’t give up! Discover more HERE.

Go write something!


5 Ruthless Ways to Make Time to Write Your Book

5 Ruthless Ways to Make Time

When I landed my first paid co-writing contract, it seemed like we did a whole lot of waiting for the publisher to make decisions. And then, all of a sudden, we had to get a finished manuscript to the editor.

As the deadline approached, I put my family on notice. My husband would have to be responsible for meals for a week or two.

My younger daughter, who was still homeschooled at that age, would have to take responsibility for getting things done without my supervision.

They both pitched in, and even though we ate way too much pizza, I got the work in on time.

Since then, I’ve learned to manage my time much better. But there are still times when I have to get intense about focusing on my writing to the exclusion of other things.

There are three times when you have to get a little ruthless about making time to write your book:

When you’re struggling to get started writing and build some momentum.

When you’re trying to finish your book.

When you want to write you book in a short time span and need to make time every day.

If any of those applies to you right now, read on.

5 Ruthless Ways to Make Time to Write Your Book

I’ve used all of these strategies, and I encourage my coaching clients to use them too. Some may seem extreme to you, but sometimes you have to sacrifice for your dream.

1. Stop cleaning your house.

If you can hire someone to clean, go for it. Make that call today. (It’s often cheaper than you might think.) If not, then decide what you can live with, and let it go a few days longer.

I love a clean house, but I also love being an author. Does it really matter if you wait a week to vacuum the formal living room that no one goes into anyway? Is it more important than your book?

2. Take a break from social media.

You don’t have to make a big, “I’m taking a break from Facebook” announcement, but you can if you want to. Do you really have any idea how much time you spend scrolling, liking, posting, pinning, and retweeting?

Give it up completely for a week or two–or indefinitely. Reclaiming those lost five minutes here and there can give you an hour a day that you can spend writing.

3. Stop cooking meals.

That’s right. I said it. Stop cooking! Of course, I don’t mean you should eat McDonald’s every day or overdo the pizza.But you can grab frozen, healthy, one-pan meals from Trader Joe’s or buy semi-healthy prepared foods from your local grocery store.

Lots of fruit, bagged salads, pre-cooked rice, canned beans, and some decent sandwich fixings should fill your fridge and pantry. You can save an hour or more each day when you’re not cooking and cleaning the kitchen.

4. Turn off the alerts on your cell phone.

I don’t get any email or social media alerts on my phone. I just can’t. It’s too distracting. Every time that phone buzzes, I’m like Pavlov’s dog. I need to see what it is. (I might not answer, but I do check the message.) So it’s better for me to minimize the buzzing.

Get rid of all those notifications. Without those other constant interruptions, you’ll be able to focus on any task at hand, finish more quickly, and save more time for your writing.

5. Give up sleeping.

Yeah, that sounds harsh, huh? Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to sleep. I can fall asleep just about anywhere, and I’m not ashamed to take a car nap. Get your rest on. It’s important.

On the other hand, your book is important too, no? If you’re better in the morning, get up 30 minutes earlier and dedicate that time to your book. If your creative juices flow better at night, then give yourself an hour past bedtime, with no TV and no Internet, to just focus on your book. You can ease into an hour, if you want, but an extra half an hour is a great start on either end of the day.

Is the sacrifice to become an author too great?

Remember that these changes are only temporary. And let’s be honest. None of them are really ruthless. They’re just your way of telling the Universe and everyone around you that this book matters.

If these strategies feel like deep sacrifices to you or to your family, that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with sacrificing for what you really want. Believe me. When you hold your book in your hand, it will all have been worth it.

As you read over the list above, check yourself for resistant thoughts like these:

None of these things will work for me.

I’ll never have time to write my book.

Who has money for prepared food?

I don’t get enough sleep now!

My family would never agree to any of this.

Is that what you’re thinking? Then I encourage you to start thinking differently. Check out the Author’s Mindset and start saying yes to your dream of becoming an author.

Go write something!

Is Your Book Important Enough to Write?

How to Tell If Your Book Is Important Enough to Write

About once a week, my mother calls me with a new idea for a book. We talk every day, so I never know when these book ideas are going to pop up. It’s always something that’s interesting to her—and not so interesting to me. But she wants me to write the book.

My go-to response: “Why don’t you write it, Ma?”

She laughs the question off every time. “I don’t have time to write a book,” she says, and then we both forget about it until she comes up with something else.

I doubt if she’ll ever pursue any of those ideas. They’re not important enough for her to commit her time and energy to the writing process, day after day, until the book is done.

Make Your Book a Priority

Have you ever felt like you don’t have time to write a book?

Have you been thinking about writing a book for a year or more?

Are you tired of people asking if you’ve written your book yet?

Some people think you determine your true priorities by looking at what you spend your money on. But I disagree.

How You Spend Your Time Reflects What You Prioritize

No matter how “scarce” money may seem, you can always make more. You can never make more time.

We’re all busy. So what you do with the time you’ve been given is a clear indicator of what you’ve prioritized, consciously or unconsciously.

If your book is a priority for you, you’ll make time to write it. You may need help figuring out how to get it done.

You may need to overcome some fear and doubt, but if your book is really important to you, you won’t let a lack of time get in your way.

Want to know how much your book matters to you? Complete the following sentences.

I can’t wait to write my book because __________________________________________________.

My readers need my book because ____________________________________________________.

I haven’t written my book yet because _________________________________________________.

Reflect on how you finish those statements.

Based on your answers, is your book a priority for you? Are you talking yourself out of writing your book or focusing on reasons to get it done?

Is it important enough for you to make the time?

If it is, I promise you can either make more time to write or find other ways to get it done.

When writing a book is really important to you, you won’t let a little ol’ thing like lack of time stand in your way.

In my next article, I’ll share some simple, specific strategies to help you make time to write.

Your book is worth it. Your story matters. You can make it happen.

Go write something!

How to Write When You’re Bad at Grammar

How to Write a Book - Bad at Grammar

Have you ever worried that your grammar or spelling isn’t good enough for you to write a great book?

At a recent meeting of the National Speakers Association, a gentleman came up to me and shared a bit of his story. He’s still fairly new in his speaking career, but he’s had some success already.

He’s wise enough to know that writing a book could help him earn more money as a speaker. The credibility of being an author would help him negotiate higher speaking fees.

But he doesn’t trust his writing skills enough to write a book.

“I suck at writing,” and “I’m a bad speller” are two of the common reasons people give me for not writing the books they really want to write.

These are just two more limiting beliefs that prevent people from stepping into their role as author. Until they change the way they think about writing, they’ll never publish a book.

I’ve worked with a lot of clients who really do struggle with the rules of grammar. Some of them misspell the same words over and over or can’t remember how to punctuate dialogue.

For whatever reason, the rules of spelling and grammar just don’t stick with them. But these same people are brilliant at other things. They have a book inside them, but they’re closet authors.

You may be a closet author if:

You give speeches that make people cry and laugh and live a little better.

You’re the go-to person when your friends and colleagues need advice.

You have a great job, and you use it to help other people get ahead.

You’ve launched a business, and you’re working hard to build it.

You know your purpose, and you strive every day to live it.

You have a life-changing story to tell.

If one of those descriptions fits you, but you’ve been putting off writing your book because you’re not the best at grammar, it’s time for that to change.

Of course, you want to put out the best possible book. So tell your story. Share your expertise. And work with an editor or author coach who can help you clean up your manuscript. You bring other things to your book. Let someone else guide you through the grammar or fix it for you.

The Truth: You have a story to tell and knowledge to share that can help people live better or work better.

Once you shift your mind from focusing on the details of grammar to to writing your book, and allowing someone else help you with the grammar, the writing will come much more easily. I’d love to tell you to just get over it (just ask my kids), but it’s not always that simple.

If you’re ready to overcome your limiting beliefs about your writing skills, check out The Author’s Mindset. I created it to help you get over writer’s block, stop the excuses, and finally write your book.

Shut out the voices of the sixth grade teacher who criticized your essays and the college professor who always had something negative to say. No one’s giving you a grade. They just want to know what you have to teach them.

Go write something!

Is Your Family Standing in the Way of Your Book?

Is Your Family Standing in the Way - Post

Years ago, I spoke to a woman* who was thinking of coming on as an author coaching client. She had a great idea for a book for parents of college-bound teens. She was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the subject—a true expert.

The conversation started with her explaining that she’d had writer’s block for weeks. But the bigger problem, she insisted, was that she didn’t have time to write her book. Her family was too demanding.

Now, I hear this from people on almost a daily basis. They want to write a book, but they can’t find the time.

Maybe you’ve thought or said the same thing yourself. (I have.) Maybe you say it often. (I used to.)

We dove into her schedule a bit, and it turned out that she had time to write early in the day and late in the evenings. However, she insisted that her children would never let her have that time for herself.

“It’s like they can tell when I’m up,” she said. “They wake up and just want to be with me.”

You have permission to choose you.

It was clear to me that she hadn’t yet made her book a priority. She hadn’t given herself permission to decide her book was important enough to devote her time to it and then follow through on her goal.

She had convinced herself that her family would suffer if she spent time at home writing her book.

Recently, we ran into each other at a networking event. She’s still talking about writing her book, but it doesn’t sound like she’s made much progress. Of course, I couldn’t help thinking back on our initial conversation and all the time gone by since then.

If she’d given herself permission to take just 30 minutes each day to work on her book, it would’ve been written and published long ago. Unfortunately, she hasn’t yet been able to do that.

We all love our families, but we all deserve some time to ourselves in pursuit of our dreams and goals.

This lovely, intelligent, talented woman was ultimately using her family as an excuse not to make time for her book. Maybe she was afraid she didn’t have enough to say to make her book valuable. Maybe she was afraid that she’d start her book and not finish, which might be a failure in her eyes. Maybe she just didn’t know where to start.

I have absolutely met some people whose schedules were so packed they had no time for writing. That’s the case with many of my ghostwriting clients. But in most situations, you can make time to write your book if it’s really important to you. Thirty minutes a day, and you can finish your manuscript in the course of a year or less.

False beliefs can stop you from ever becoming an author.

Limiting beliefs, like a lack of time, or the idea that your family will be deprived and neglected if you take any time for yourself, do not have to stand in your way. You can overcome those obstacles and eliminate writer’s block by developing the Author’s Mindset.

What does that mean? To start with, it means you uncover your limiting beliefs. You deal with them in the light of day, and you replace them with affirming truths.

You are fully capable of writing your book.

You deserve to spend time writing your book.

Your book matters.

I’ve developed a short course to help you get the Author’s Mindset, overcome writer’s block, and finally make your book a priority. Check it out, and see how it can help you on your journey to becoming an author.

Go write something!

*Details are changed to protect my acquaintance’s identity.