How To Finally Write The Book That’s Stuck Inside Of You

It’s a painful thing, having a book stuck inside. Especially when it goes on for years. I’ve known writers to go for 15 years or longer with a book stuck inside. If this sounds like you, you’ve probably been ashamed of it, believing you’re the only one. You’re not. Not by a long shot!

Here are seven reasons a book can get stuck inside a writer—or closet writer—with no outlet, along with some simple solutions.

1. You feel overwhelmed about all the work involved

Writing a book takes a lot of work. Anything worth achieving takes concerted effort—that’s part of the richness of it. You stretch and grow as you progress. That’s a much better option for you than putting it off and feeling unfulfilled.

But the real reason you feel overwhelmed is because your mental picture of the book is too big. You need to chunk it down into baby steps. Which leads us to the next point.

2. You’re not sure how to get started

We, humans, tend to box things in. We think we have to write an outline first. Or start at Chapter One. But that may be the best way to stifle yourself.

How about starting with what you’re passionate about? You don’t have to write a chapter right off the bat. You can start by telling yourself the story of your own book, in writing. Let it flow out of you any old which way. Tell it to yourself with all the fire of your original dream for the book.

This act of telling yourself the story of your own book will give you a vision you can start with. Once you can step back and see the overview, it will be easier to plan a structure for your book. The most important step to take is to actually start writing your book.

3. You don’t believe in yourself enough to risk it

This is a biggie that often originates in childhood. It can seem so convincing, it then puts a limiting lens on almost everything we do. But it is possible to create self-belief out of the ashes.

One way is to read books or watch movies about people who overcame incredible odds to live their dreams.

Gaby: A True Story is a 1987 movie about a woman born with cerebral palsy. Gaby was passionate about living life on her own terms. Against all odds, she became a writer, even though she could only move her body enough to point to alphabet letters with her toe.

True-life stories such as these show the indomitability of the human spirit. Now take it one step further and apply it to yourself.

How to bypass your resistance

To bypass your resistance to believing in yourself, first, think of at least one person you know who has potential to achieve. This should be someone who is currently not doing anything with their gifts because of fear or self-doubt.

Think of how frustrating it is to watch them waste their potential. Think about what you would say to encourage them to go for it.

Now pretend you’re another person. Begin writing encouragement to this Other Person about why they need to write their book. Be sure to point out all the strengths this person possesses, that you can clearly see because you’re an observer.

“You cannot perform in a manner inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”

— Zig Ziglar

4. You fear there’s nothing new under the sun

When I was in my 20s and longing to be a writer, I would walk into the library and be crushed by the sight of all the books on the shelves. My emotions screamed “It’s all been written before. I have nothing new to add.”

This is a by-product of lack of self-belief. And it’s a fallacy.

Even if you hear writing models that seem to say it’s all been done before (example: “there are only seven basic plots”), this should not be taken as a limit. Instead, these types of models can give you a helpful framework. You add the human element. You add your unique self.

No one can write your story or non-fiction book the way you can. Because no one else has lived your exact life experience.

There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard. There are not more than five primary colors, yet in combination, they produce more hues than can ever be seen. There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.

― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

5. You fear you won’t know how to make it compelling

Almost nobody starts out brilliant. There may be a few geniuses who can write sparkling chapters from the first minute, but most of us need to write what’s called a first draft.

If you don’t write the messy first draft, you won’t have anything to shape into an end product.

The more you write, the more you’ll find your voice. If you sound awkward at first, that’s completely normal. Besides, you’re not the best judge of it. You’re simply too close to your own writing, especially in the beginning, to be able to assess it.

Find someone who believes in you to give you feedback and to encourage you about what you’re getting right.

Yes, you can also get a critique to help you improve your writing, but resist the urge to jump the gun. Getting a critique too soon can be like criticizing a child who’s learning to ride a bike.

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. You’re afraid your grammar won’t cut the mustard

Never let this stop you from writing your book!

Grammar can be fixed. But it’s not something you should try to deal with during a first draft. The right stage to address grammar is during revisions and editing.

If you’re not a skilled editor, you can hire one.

7. English is your second language

This is similar to the grammar issue above. It can all be fixed at the right stage of the book, and with the right help.

In sometimes working with writers who have English as their second language, I’ve repeatedly noticed that they try harder than the average bear to get it right. And that they’re often doing a lot better than they think.

Learning by doing

If you wait till you have “the time” to write your book, that day may never come.

If you wait till you have the self-belief to do it, staying in a fog of procrastination will only create more self-doubt.

Writing a book is a messy process, even for experienced writers. So jump in the mud puddle and get your hands and feet dirty! Sometimes just doing it is the only way to learn.


Milli Thornton
Milli Thornton
Writing coach Milli Thornton has been helping writers and closet writers since 2001 with her unique blend of creativity, productivity, intuition and fun. “Winning the jackpot” is how one of her satisfied clients phrased it. Milli helps fiction and non-fiction writers, and she specializes as a Spiritual Book Coach. Want to be writing hundreds or thousands of words within the first week? Request a friendly and liberating 1-hour free consultation today. Author of a time management book, Milli is also an Accountability Coach for anyone with a goal or project (not just writers).

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  1. Growing up with a writer, published many times, I just realized I’ve never asked her about her writing process. Interesting insight!

    I love writing myself and I do have a book inside of me but for it to come out of its closet I would for sure need some hand holding.

    • Wow, Stella, it sounds like you’re almost living with your next piece of writing! If you decide to interview that writer you grew up with (your mom, perchance?) and then publish an article with the insights you gleaned, I would LOVE to read it—and also republish it on my blog, if you like—or, even better, just take that as an invitation to be a guest blogger on Write More Words. :-)

      It’s always exciting for me to hear of someone who has a book inside. You mentioned needing some hand-holding for it to come out. If you feel moved to, please check out my 1-hr free consultation. I can help you figure out what kind of hand-holding would work the best for you . . . and if it didn’t turn out to be my coaching, there would be no pressure—a writer needs to do what’s right for her as an individual otherwise it’s a mess. But talking it through with someone who knows how to listen for the clues can really help.

      • That’s an interesting suggestion Mili. It’s my mother, but we’re not on speaking terms as of now. If I ever get to it I might come back with you.

        About my own writing, I might take you up on your offer during the coming fall. I do have things on my blog that would go towards the book. And a ton of “downloaded” notes on my iPhone. :-)

  2. Inspiring! Not only is this article inspiring but the comments that it generated are fabulous. I just began writing in the “author” sense 2 months ago. I think writing has always been a part of my life and I know there are many books pounding the door of my mind disprately trying to escape. The step by step approach is perfect. I figure…when all else fails…just write…edit later.

    • Raissa, I’m so happy you found the article and the comments it generated inspiring and that you found the baby step suggestions helpful. How exciting that you have many books pounding on the door of your mind. I hope you identified one to focus on and get started. It sounds like you’re writing a book already? You mentioned beginning to write as an author. I wish you every happiness and success with that!

  3. Milli, your words, “You need to chunk it down into baby steps” are so accurate. It is so easy to get overwhelmed when writing your book. There were times when I just sat at my desk and stared at the computer, not because I did not have enough to start with or had writer’s block, but because I was overwhelmed. Thanks for the tip. Sharing.

    • Kat, I’m honored by this act of sharing my article from such an accomplished author. Thank you for taking the time to confirm that dynamic about being overwhelmed and how chunking it down into baby steps is what can create the shift. When I help writers do this, they instantly reconnect to their passion.

        • That would be stimulating and fun, Kat. I’ve visited your website several times and have wondered how to collaborate with you. I love working with writers in the metaphysical/spiritual realms, and intuition is one of my cherished tools in my coaching practice. The sub-title of your book “Intuitive Aspects of Healing” is what my private life is all about!

          • Hi again Milli, per @TEAM 360’s gracious suggestion below I’m inviting you (and any writers with whom you are working) to join PreKaya, me, and many other BIZCAT writer’s on the Women Of Facebook Create page where I’m an ADMIN. We share and support each other’s work. Friday begins the BLOG/VLOG/ARTICLE/VARTICLE Weekend (that sounds so funny when you read it out loud) where writers, new and old, share their blog and article links which then get commented on and shared to the commenter’s social media pages for SEO. You have until Sunday to post an article so I hope to see one there from you. Monday-Thursday we focus on POSITIVE POSTERS to PILLARS OF SUCCESS. Each day has something new to empower you. Dennis Pitocco is there as motivation and guidance for everyone but especially the new writers. He is a Beacon of Light for the fledgling bloggers and other magazine editors, and the only man on the page, so he is very special to us.

            • Thank you, Dennis! And thank you, Kat, I’m thrilled and honored to receive this invitation. I filled out my application and look forward to learning the ropes. Thanks for the head’s-up about how the group operates. Sounds like a very active, stimulating, creative and fun group full of amazing women (and one special man)!

  4. Thank you so much! I’m in the process of writing my first novel, that’s been in me since I was sixteen. I’ve pushed it to the back burner this year because my heart is in writing poetry, thinking no one would accept my novel because poetry is what I’m known for. This article is helping me push the rest of that story out with confidence.

    • PreKaya, thanks for letting me know that my article had some impact on your levels of inner freedom to write. You’re absolutely right: being known for poetry should not stop you from writing a novel. It’s just that darn Inner Critic that tries to fool us into thinking these types of rules should be observed. I’m so excited that the book you’ve been wanting to write since age 16 can come out now. And I hope you have a blast writing it!

  5. Welcome Milli! Wonderful article with sage advice. As a published writer, taking the next step into composing and publishing a book seems to be in the “tomorrow” category for me, lol. Ironically, I have been asked to ghost write or co-author books over the years. I have contributed to several and just last week was approached again to assist an aspiring writer to help her with her book, which we are in the process of meeting to make it happen. In the meantime, I have what feels like a zillion books inside me and in stacks of notebooks scattered in my home. Good news is my eBook is soon to be published! I look forward to reading more of your articles and getting to know you better. Cheers!

    • Eileen, thank you for the welcome and for reading my article. I can totally relate to the zillions of books waiting inside of you and stacks of notebooks scattered around your home full of ideas! Even having a book and some Kindle books already published doesn’t take the edge off my feeling of having so many ideas I’d need a few more lifetimes to use them all. (I put that in the category of a “good problem to have” but it can still feel overwhelming at times.) I was excited to hear you have an ebook soon to be published. I visited your website and I’m wondering if it’s about core thinking for high achievers? Where and when can we obtain a copy once it’s been published?

      • Milli, You are welcome! I had to chuckle at the comment of needing a few more lifetimes…totally understand! My website is under revamping and the ebook will be available there for download. Giving away this one, but future books will be availble for purchase. The ebook is about the principles of core thinking for success. I believe you would really like it and benefit from its content. There is information along with action steps and is meant as a guide that you can refer back to from time to time or often in the beginning! :) As soon as my website is finished I will be announcing it’s unveiling. Feel free to friend me on FB and/or LinkedIn (both under Eileen Bild). Cheers!

  6. Blessings Milli, thank you for this article as it has my name all over it. Yep, I have two books sitting inside me that I have wanted to write but for all the reason’s you listed, its still collecting dust. Although I am in the process of writing one currently, its not one that has been inside, it just came up as a thought and now its slowly on paper, recorder, and moving along slowly. I will save your article and I will share it. Thank you!

    • Lynn, congratulations on the process of writing your book. I’m thrilled to hear it’s moving along for you. Thank you for reading my article and letting me know it hit a spot of recognition. That was specific and valuable feedback to get from a reader. I wish you success with freeing your two “stuck” books.

  7. First things first, Milli, ‘Welcome’ to this lively, always encouraging, and extremely supportive community of like-minded individuals we proudly know as Bizcatalyst360!

    Your inaugural article is a very well structured piece of advice for those sitting on the bylines, hoping to become Published Authors, Bestselling Authors, and NY Times Bestselling Authors. But, as you rightly pointed out, there has to be a beginning, the all so important ‘pulling the trigger moment.’

    I see the beautiful comments from some of my most loved, respected as well as friendly Guides, Mentors, and Inspirers looking forward to partaking of your wisdom. How can I be left behind? Please count me in as well and go full steam!

    Happy Writing, Reading, Sharing, and last but not the least, having FUN!

    Thanks, with Warm Regards

    • Hello Bharat! Thank you for your warm and lively comment and for reading my first offering on Bizcatalyst360. I’m honored by your visit. My new 360° friend Joel Elveson had only moments before mentioned you as a BC360° author worth knowing. And then you magically appeared! I’m taking your advice and having fun during my first day in this community. It’s been quite heady and wonderful. I look forward to more reading, writing and sharing. ~ Milli

      • You are Welcome, Milli!

        I address your “new 360° friend Joel Elveson” as Joel Sir because he is an extremely humble and genuinely forgiving individual that knows how to offer encouragement through his superlative diction. I am sure you will enjoy his posts more than that of all of us put together.

        All the Very Best!

    • Thank you, Larry. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and found it encouraging. However, from what I’ve heard about you on the 360 grapevine, you’re already an active, practicing writer so I suspect “hope to be” is your natural modesty. I bookmarked your author page last night and I’m looking forward to reading some of your articles.

  8. Milli, first, welcome to the BizCatalyst 360 team of authors and to an audience who enjoys engaging in thoughtful discussion on a well written article – and this is a well written article. As a new author who just published my first book, I can tell you that jumping the hurtles you outlined is important. But as I reminded myself when I sat down and started the process, if you are going to walk across the United States, at some point, you have to take that first step. Glad there are people like you out there to mentor and encourage people to begin the journey of a lifetime with “a first step”. Thanks.

  9. Milli, you are telling your story, but in reality it could be the story of thousands. I have heard so many authors over the past few years talk about having a story to tell and the importance of not letting it get lost in many of the reasons you’ve described. I have no plans to write a book, but if I did, I can see myself in many of your examples. I enjoyed your article. Thank you for choosing to share it with the BizCatalyst360 audience.

    • Jane, I appreciate that you took the time to read my article and leave a comment. This is my first article on BizCatalyst360 and you’re my first commenter, so thank you! I’m happy you enjoyed it, even though you have no plans to write a book. Seeing yourself in many of my examples is good feedback to have.