Perfectionism and Writer’s Block

Perfectionism and Writer’s Block

My novel isn’t written yet.

I planned to finish it ages ago. Like any good former Catholic schoolgirl, I followed all of the best getting-stuff-done advice:

  • Set daily goals for my word count.
  • Gave myself firm deadlines.
  • Asked friends to keep me accountable.
  • Hired a life coach.
  • Made spreadsheets, for goodness sake.

Something wasn’t working, though. Those deadlines came and went. I told myself I didn’t have enough free time, so last September I quit my job, hoping that the additional time and energy—not to mention the making-a-living sword dangling over my head—would spark brilliant sentences from my fingertips.

I even did visualizations, indulging in elaborate daydreams of typing “The End,” uncorking champagne, and receiving congratulatory hugs from friends and family and my agent. (No, I don’t have an agent, but it was my visualization, so I made it damn good.)

Well, none of that worked. Sixteen months after starting my novel, I’ve drafted about 55,000 words. Some of those words are good, some of them are dreadful, and I’ve been stuck around the 50,000-word mark for way longer than I’d care to admit.

So what happened? 

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