The #1 Habit Killing Your Writing And No, It’s Not Procrastination!

By on February 26, 2015
The #1 Habit Killing Your Writing And No, It's Not Procrastination! -


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Let’s face it, writing is hard work. Sometimes, it feels like a battle to pen a single word onto the page. Writers face so many creative monsters in order to produce: self-doubt, criticism, rejection, procrastination, jealousy, and over-preparation. However, there’s one characteristic even more dangerous than all of the above since it’s so widespread and recognized. I’m talking about the #1 habit killing your writing.


Perfectionism is the devil because it’s a socially acceptable form of self-abuse. We applaud those who work 70-hour work weeks and win endless strings of awards and accolades, but who are divas to the extreme.

Julia Cameron of the famed Artist’s Way says,

"Instead of enjoying the process, the perfectionist is constantly grading the results."

What Perfectionism Looks Like in Real Life

Years ago, I attended the Austin Film Festival and entered a “pitch contest.” Crazy people Participants stood alone on a stage in front of hundreds of others and presented a three-minute synopsis of their films to a panel of judges. These industry professionals then critiqued each pitch.

My first time there, I beat all the competition on Day One and made it to the finals. I would be presenting in front of the entire conference.

I was a rock star!

Two days later, I was the first pitch at the finals–which is the kiss of death, since the judges have no comparisons for your work. I received a decent score, but didn’t win. I wasn’t even runner-up.

I was a loser!

I went from feeling like a million bucks to less than zero. I returned home devastated, hating myself because I’d lost, despite the fact I had made it to the finals on my very first try. You would’ve thought I was an axe murderer, I despised myself so much. The self-loathing lasted for months.

Helllllo, perfectionist.

What Perfectionism Is and Isn’t

I want to be clear: there are distinct differences between striving for excellence and perfectionism. Let’s explore these a little closer.

Striving for Excellence

  • Reasonable expectations (understanding that writing is a process and you’ll grow over time–if you keep working at your craft).
  • Satisfaction with less-than perfect writing in the first several drafts of your work.
  • Ability to bounce back from disappointments or failure.


  • All-or-nothing thinking (either you’re a New York Times bestselling author, or you suck).
  • Obsessive behavior (spending two hours reworking one sentence until it’s flawless–or throwing out your entire manuscript and starting over).
  • Belief that mistakes or setbacks indicate your unworthiness.


Striving for excellence feels great because you’re trying your very best. Perfectionism feels miserable because you’re never quite good enough.

However this does not mean that you do not need a plan for your writing projects.  One that works! 

If you lack inspiration then you might want to try the advice and writing hacks that are suggested in Our Get It Done Writer's Toolkit  CLICK HERE! This is a ebook/audio CD comb that can teach you how to brainstorm as well as overcome writer's block and procrastination. It will also help you stay on schedule and meet writing goals so you can finish that project!

Rip Off the Mask of Perfectionism

When you expose this nasty culprit for what it really is, you’ll find:


Yep, good old-fashioned fear.

Fear your writing isn’t good enough.

Fear that if even one person criticizes your work you’re doomed as writer.

Fear you’re not smart enough … talented enough … disciplined enough to create whatever story is tugging at your heart.

3 Ways to Overcome Perfectionism

I’ve completed four novels and had literary representation for two of those books. I’ve been paid for more magazine articles than I can count and am an award-winning copywriter/short-story author. I’ve been writing years and learned most lessons the hard way.

I’d like to spare you that pain and help you learn from my mistakes. So here are three tips to overcome perfectionism:

1. Write Sucky First Drafts

First drafts are meant to bad. Super bad. Give yourself permission to write the most awful, terrible, horrible junk ever. It takes the pressure off. You’re going to need to edit the entire manuscript at least three times before expecting anything polished or pretty. After that, find beta readers to critique your work–folks who are strong editors, if not paid professionals.

2. Write Faster than Your Fear

Silence your internal critic by working quicker than your perfectionism. Don’t edit or censure as you go along, just get the words onto the page. You can polish it later. Turn your brain off and your hands on.

3. Let It Go

Nobody’s writing is ever done, but at some point you have to call it good and stop. I know I’ve reached that point when I’m just moving commas. I’ll read through the entire piece and make grammar changes, then read it again and move everything back. That’s when it’s time to let it go.

Use these three tips to eliminate this habit killing your writing and learn how to have fun and write better stories–all at the same time!

Thinking of self-publishing your own ebook or novel? If so then you might be interested in our online Webinar called “How to Get Published, Sell Books & Attract Tens of Thousands of Readers by Selling Your Content on Amazon’s Kindle" CLICK HERE!   This is a webinar that teaches authors how to publsih online and sell to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing Platform and Market as well as promote and sell their written material online.

This story is authored by Marcy McKay on the K.M. Weiland Site. It originally posted as The #1 Habit Killing Your Writing on November 21, 2014.  You read the original article at

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