Nov 12, 2021 • 49M

Why Can't I Finish My Novel? Episode 289: A Coaching Call with Ophir Lehavy

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Entertaining, actionable advice on craft, productivity and creativity for writers and journalists in all genres, with hosts Jessica Lahey, KJ Dell'Antonia and Sarina Bowen.

Why can’t I finish my novel?

KJ here, and when I saw that heartfelt cry in our Facebook Group, I knew we had to answer. Because finishing is hard, y’all. It’s harder than starting. It’s harder than showing up to the page. There comes a moment in so many projects when the wheels are spinning but the Matchbox car just isn’t going anywhere.

Ophir Lehavy is a coach herself, working with students to help them find ways to get their work done and feel more successful about it—so she knew the benefits of having someone else try to help you tease out the things that are getting in your way. There are many reasons for feeling stuck or stymied, but they often boil down to two things: feeling unable to take time away from other things, or being able to take the time—but not knowing what to do next.

We talk about both, and drill down hard on moving from one stage of a project to another, when the rhythm and goal have changed and you can’t simply keep doing what you’re doing—and come up with strategies to get Ophir, or anyone who’s stalled out, back on the road.

If you’ve got a coachable problem, we’d love to hear from you! Email us at We can’t promise to answer every email, but if your question is one that many listeners share and we can help with, we’ll try to answer it on the podcast, and we might even invite you on so we can really dig in.

Links from the pod:

Julie and Julia: The book and the movie.

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel & Edinburgh by Alexander Chee

Jennie Nash’s Blueprint for a Book

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody


Ophir: The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende

KJ: The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu

And—got a burning question about a writing life issue? Something on your mind you’d love for us to help you with? Email us at We can’t promise to answer everyone, but if we think we could be useful to you (or know someone who can) and if your issue is of interest to other listeners, we might invite you to come on the podcast for a little coaching.

Finally, KJ here with a little news about Author Accelerator’s Book Coach Certification Program. I’m in the middle of it! You might remember this bonus episode, where Jennie Nash and I discussed “Shiny Thing Syndrome” and I was dubious about whether working with other writers as a book coach was a great side gig or a distraction for ME. Since then, I’ve been trying on the coach role in a number of small ways, and I’ve decided to go all in. This program is absolutely everything you need to get started from the editorial, coaching and business perspectives. It’s also entertaining and inspirational and makes me want to leap in right away. Learn more at (Want to see what I’m doing? Click here.)