Coach Marla Beck

Your Unfinished Novel is Toxic: 3 Reasons Why

by Marla

in brilliant mindset, brilliant vision, brilliant writing career

ClarityDon’t let it fool you, dear writer.

That unfinished novel may look like an innocent,  overstuffed file in your desk drawer, but you and I know better:  the manuscript you’ve been avoiding or putting off for months (or years) can be downright dangerous.


Unfinished novels sap your creative energy.

Everything unfinished in a writer’s life diverts precious creative insight towards thinking about stuff.

Unfinished novels take up precious mental real estate — headspace that you could be using to make new connections, develop new stories and try on new ideas.

Our best creative insights and project ideas come when our mind is attentive, expansive and relaxed.

Imagine this:  if cleaning your desk off paves the way for an infusion of fresh creative energy, imagine how good you feel once you clear the slate and make peace with your unfinished novel!

Whether it’s time to finish your manuscript or time to set it aside, every time a writer I coach makes a clear decision about her unfinished novel, I see her creativity and peace of mind skyrocket.

Unfinished novels prevent you from pursuing newer projects.

We human beings are wired to grow and evolve.  This is a fundamental practice for creating a vibrant, happy life.

If you’re feeling creatively stuck, it’s possible that finishing the book you’ve started — at least for now — is not the right move for you.

Some writers I coach try to be orderly and disciplined, finishing outstanding projects before they begin anything new.  But this isn’t the right move for every writer.  Sometimes their sense of duty and discipline is misguided.

Not every novel-in-progress is meant to be finished, and the only way to decide confidently is to look at the book project in the context of your values, dreams and career goals.  A good coach can help you get super clear about your writing priorities and career goals.  It’s difficult to do this kind of inquiry on your own.

Unfinished novels taunt you into thinking that you’ve (truly and utterly) failed at something very important:  being YOU.

Here’s the most heartbreaking reason unfinished novels can be toxic:  they stab at your sense of wholeness and undermine your personal integrity.  Let me explain…

We all know that the drive to write a book is profound and deep.  (Authorship is so meaningful that some folks exploit writers’ pain, pushing “finish your book!” productivity workshops with no regard for a writer’s soul.)

Finishing a book isn’t just a matter of learning craft and accumulating pages.  Finishing a book isn’t primarily about finessing the marketplace or industry, either.

Finishing a book is a soul-task.  It’s the art of…

  • …allowing yourself the pleasure to write.  Consistently.
  • …taking a stand that your voice, time and heart matter in the day-to-day world.
  • …practicing courage, confidence, tenacity and creativity.

For some, writing a novel is a pure path to feeling incredibly alive!

If this is you, your novel’s the right project for you now and you’re unable or unwilling to get it completed, you risk letting yourself down.


And this sense of sadness and lack of power bleeds into your relationships with your children, your partner, your family and your friends.

(I wasn’t exaggerating when I said unfinished novels can be downright toxic.  They truly can.)

You Can’t Afford NOT to Decide. 

If you’re committed to a vibrant, creative and happy writing career, you can’t afford to keep ignoring that manuscript.

You’ve got to consciously DECIDE what to do with it.

  • Are you meant to finish writing the book?
  • Is it time to move on, without shame or regret?

Your creative aliveness and your growth as a writer depend on your willingness to get clear.

Step up your courage and dare to make a clear decision about your novel.  (The key is to discover where, how and when your unfinished book fits into your ideal writing life and career.)

Once you get clear, you’ll be as alive, on-task and fulfilled as a writer can be — whether you choose to finish that book or move on instead to the next right thing for you.

Book a call with me here if you’re ready for my help.


If your writing career needs a jolt of fire, energy and inspiration, sign up here to learn 3 keys to renewing your creativity, vitality and forward momentum.  Get your free MP3 recording and 13-page transcript to download and keep.  It takes fire in the belly to go for your writing dreams.

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