Subscribe to Lisa’s Blog

Weekly writing & publishing news, tips, and events — straight to your inbox!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

7 Ways to Keep Your Book Alive When You Don’t Have Time to Write It

VIP Day with book writing coach Lisa
Teri Cavangh attended a workshop with me 5 or 6 years ago when she “retired” and planned to write her book. An amazing new job opportunity and her volunteer work got in the way of her plan but now she’s retired again and her surprise job inspired the new vision for her book. We got together this Fall for a VIP day to plan her book! Clearly, her book is coming in its own perfect timing.

Keep Your Book Alive

This past weekend I heard from people who had joined the Write Your Book community in 2011, 2012, 2013. It blew my mind that they’d stayed on my list that long, reading emails, commenting on blog posts, keeping their books alive and waiting for the right time to write their books—perhaps just starting, or perhaps returning to material they began years ago. In the past few days, many of them have stepped up and committed to programs that can help them produce a first draft in as little as eight weeks.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to tell you to buy anything or step up yourself. In fact, I’m going to suggest you give yourself some slack if you’re not ready!


You may not have the time, “head space,” or energy to commit to write a first draft in the next several months, but I imagine you do want to stay connected to your book. You want to think about it, maybe do some writing when you can.

What you don’t want is to forget about that dream completely. You want to hold on to that spark of inspiration, maybe even have it grow into a cozy fireplace fire to warm you.

I can tell you that any time you spend on your book will help make that book a reality in the future, whether you’re “just” day dreaming about your future as a published author or you’re actually typing words into a computer file for Chapter 3. You’re keeping your book alive.

Tara MardiganHow Tara Kept Her Book Alive

I met Tara Mardigan in 2010 at Harvard Medical School’s publishing course and she confessed that she “always wanted to write a book.” We kept in touch over the years. Three and a half years later, I worked with her and her co-author Kate Weiler as they conceptualized and structured the book that became Real Fit Kitchen, published in 2015 by Fair Winds Press. During the interim, Tara took one of my classes, commented on blog posts and read my newsletters when she could make the time.

real fit kitchen book coverAt the time, as nutritionist for the Red Sox who also saw private clients, Tara wasn’t able to make time to devote herself to her book for several years.  She kept it alive by reading, noting ideas on index cards, filing away recipes and thinking about book ideas from time to time. All that time reading emails and blog posts, staying connected, I imagine her subconscious was also working on the book. And all those recipes filed away saved time later when writing in full swing.

How Carol Stayed Inspired and Got Unstuck

I met Carol Lambert at the Harvard Medical School CME Publishing course as well. Carol, too, took a hiatus during an intense time, yet her worked helped her stay connected to her publishing dreams.

“My inspiring clinical work that I immersed myself in each week kept the flame lit in the value of what I had to offer. I never let go of the strong desire to write what I learned in order to reach more women—a much wider audience—who could benefit. At one point, I asked myself what would I regret at 80 years old and the first thing that came to my mind was, “Not finishing my book.” This set me on a course to prioritize my writing all the way to completion.”

You can read more about how Carol Lambert got unstuck, finished her book proposal, signed a book deal and became a published author.

Your Turn

I can share many other examples of now-published authors, or emerging authors who have signed a book deal and are completing their manuscripts, who did not truly “buckle down” for many years. Now, some writers feel guilty about not writing, or even shameful. Please, don’t do that to yourself. These gestating authors may even read a newsletter article or blog post and use the information to beat themselves up over not producing. But not you. Please, use others’ successes to fuel your own. Take joy in their accomplishments and know that this will be you one day.

Find little ways to move forward with your book and trust that you are on the right path.

Carol Lambert took a couple of years off before finishing her book proposal.

How Will You Keep Your Book Alive?

Here are 7 Ways to Keep Your Book Alive:

  1. Read About Writing Books: This will keep the conversation about your book alive within you. You can use the time to learn about book writing and publishing so that when you do have time to write, you write from a space of being informed.
  2. Fantasize About Your Life as a Published Author: That’s right. Daydream. As you imagine your book making a difference in your readers’ lives and transforming your own, that positive energy will help motivate you to create space in your life for your book.
  3. Allow Ideas to Percolate, Take Notes and File Them: You can start small with notes, ideas, recipes, exercises—any little thing that inspires you. It will keep you moving forward and save time when you do write your book. It also takes off some pressure when you don’t have to come up with everything all at once, particularly if you get a book deal and need to write on deadline.
  4. Connect with Your Vision from Time to Time: When I work with emerging authors, I have them create a vision statement to read each day or whenever they write. They work on the vision statement until it feels like a 10 out of 10 on the inspiration scale. You might consider creating a vision statement or vision board. Post it somewhere you can see it every day.
  5. Revisit the Idea from Time to Time: Don’t leave it for forever. Schedule it in your calendar to ask yourself once or twice a year, “Is the time now? Could I make the time to write my book?” Feel into your heart and see what answer you get. If you feel excited, maybe it’s time. If you feel a clear no, that’s an answer too. If you feel afraid, that may tell you that it is time to muster up the courage and get support to explore.
  6. Plan for a Time When You Will Make Time: If now’s not the time, can you plan to take some things off your plate in the next six months or year?
  7. Look for Stories in Everyday Life: A client’s breakthrough, a personal challenge, an odd encounter during your day can all help illustrate points you wish to make in your book. Be on the lookout for little things that could fit in your book and jot down some notes or make an audio recording on your phone, so you have access to the details when you’re ready to pull it all together. Carol shared with me yesterday that she, “collected vignettes from my clinical work that provided illustrations of my theoretical findings which both validated what I wanted to say and inspired me to hold on to my dream to write my book.”

Please share what you’re doing to keep your book alive, or ask your questions as a comment below.



Posted in ,

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Megan Gunnell says

    Thanks Lisa for your inspiration and permission to take our time too!! I was on a roll with mine, and then paused to focus on other things (building platform, speaking gigs, planning retreats, re-doing website, etc.!) I sometimes dream about taking a writing retreat myself! But maybe if I re-evaluate my 2018 calendar and carve out some protected time, I’ll get back on track again. Thanks – I always enjoy your blogs!

  2. Cherie says

    Thank you, Lisa, for all of your encouragement. You never give up on us inspiring authors!! Your post was very helpful. I am determined to finish at least one of the many books I have started. I do take time to day dream of the people that my book can help. Sometimes I feel like I’m letting them down because I’m not getting it out there. But I will someday!!! Merry Christmas!

  3. Stevie says

    Thank you for this wonderful reminder that doing these things will keep me headed in the right direction toward writing my book, even if I’m not able to consistently write each day in my current chapter of life. Slowly I’m making progress, even if some days it’s just day dreaming about what it will be like when I am a published author. I love the encouragement in your blogs!

    • Lisa Tener says

      Thank you, Steve. It’s always encouraging for me to hear from a reader that the blogs make a difference for you! Please feel free to ask questions or just chime in as a comment any time. Glad to be here for you.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Indie published Joy of Writing Journal.

Get Lisa's Award-Winning Book

The Joy of Writing Journal:

Spark Your Creativity in 8 Minutes a Day

Winner of the Silver Nautilus Book Award & IPPY Award

Subscribe to Lisa’s Blog

Weekly writing & publishing news, tips, and events — straight to your inbox!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Screen Shot 2020-09-07 at 10.05.50 PM
Share This