Demystifying book writing obstacles so you can get clear on WHY you’re not writing your book – and then do something about it.

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”

Michael Jordan

I recently enlisted the services of Branded Research to get statistical clarity (vs. anecdotal evidence from working with authors every day) on what is keeping people from writing a book. The survey turnout was impressive, with 13,952 authors and aspiring authors chiming in on a single question I posed: What is the number one thing stopping you from writing (or finishing writing) a book? (Have a look at the graphic further down for all the deets!)

What did I learn from the stats demystifying book writing obstacles?

Overall, I learned that approximately 75% of those surveyed were quite specific about the obstacles keeping them from writing a book. In order of popularity, those obstacles are: they don’t know where to start/not clear on how to write a book, they’re lacking a consistent daily writing habit to get it done, they are unclear on their book vision, or they cannot find the time. Respondents were allowed to select one answer, their biggest book writing obstacle. 

I find this interesting in light of the numerous aspiring authors I encounter who attribute their lack of a completed book to more vague and often self-deprecating reasons like procrastination and “I don’t know what’s the matter with me that I can’t get this done!”

To be clear – there’s nothing the matter with you. You’re not lazy, you’re not a bad writer, and above all, writing a book is not beyond your control or capabilities. 

Writing a book is a formidable project. Okay – it’s hard. Especially if you want to write a book that matters. If you’ve been trying to write a book and have thus far been unable to make it happen, there is likely a specific – and solvable – reason behind it. 

The reason you haven’t written a book yet is real and specific. The four reasons I listed in the survey are the same ones I find lurking behind the majority of unrealized published author dreams.

Let’s break down each response in the Branded Research survey, along with an actionable question for each one.

#1: Don’t Know Where to Start/Unclear on How to Write a Book

The fact that this was the number one reason cited by survey respondents for not writing a book, came as no shock to me. It’s the same reason that many years ago, I invented my Book Blueprint process to solve this very obstacle. 

Demystify this book writing obstacle:

What is your WHY behind writing a book? Whether personal, professional or a combination of reasons, what is the driving force, what’s at the finish line? Work backward from your ultimate goal, to paint a picture of the book that will be necessary to get you there (how it’s structured, what should go in it, and style of writing among other factors).

#2: Lacking a Consistent Daily Writing Habit To Get it Done

I will admit that as the host of a daily podcast for authors called Your Daily Writing Habit (over 930 episodes in!), having statistical validation of my podcasting purpose is a lovely thing. I was thrilled to see the self-awareness of the survey respondents who realized that without a daily writing habit (or at least a consistent one), writing a book can be a multi-year exercise in stops and starts, and overall frustration.  

Demystify this book writing obstacle:

Where is “writing your book” on your weekly schedule? If the answer is “nowhere” – might that be a big reason that your book isn’t written? What gets scheduled, (usually) gets done.

#3: Unclear on Book Vision/What it Should Be About

Once again revisiting my goal behind inventing my Book Blueprint process, if you’re not clear on what you’re writing about, your writing plan will be a road map full of rips, missing pieces, and coffee and food stains keeping you from seeing your destination.

Demystify this book writing obstacle:

Follow the lead of reporters covering a news story and start by answering basic questions about your book – who (is your target audience), what (are you promising them), why (will they care), and how (are you going to deliver on that promise).

#4: Can’t Find the Time

I hear it often: “I’ll write my book when I have some spare time,” or “when my schedule opens up.” Here’s the thing about time – it doesn’t care about you or your book. If you’re waiting for life and the real world to magically retreat so you can tackle a big passion project, you’ll be waiting for an awfully long time. There is no “spare time” there is only time and it’s up to you where you invest it, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. If you have the serious intention to write a book, it’s up to you to schedule it into the life you are currently living.

Demystify this book writing obstacle:

Even if you don’t have time to implement your dream book writing schedule (the mystical cabin in the woods) – what time in your weekly schedule CAN you commit to writing your book? Rather than looking at your ideal scenario, look at what is and build a book writing plan around that.


What insights have YOU gained from this post, from this excellent research demystifying book writing obstacles? Are you now more clear on why you haven’t written your book yet? Or is there a reason not represented in this article that you’d like to chat with me about? Email me and ask about my author coaching programs that are turning “non authors” into published ones!

Related Articles:

Don’t Quit, Scale Your Writing Process

Writing: Grit & A Game Plan

Smart Book Project Planning


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