What To Do When Your Writer-Type Stops You From Writing

Just as procrastination, brilliant ideas, and crippling self-doubt are part of being a writer, the type of writer you are also contributes to the crafting of your words.

For instance, if you’ve wondered why other writers seem to get things done and you’re struggling to write an opening paragraph, the perfectionist in you could be sabotaging your work.

Or maybe you’re the type of writer who spends every writing session planning, leading to months of hard work but no genuine progress for your manuscript.

These examples, and the others listed below, are features of classic writer-types and their natural tendencies can stop you from writing—but only if you let them!

What To Do When Your Writer-Type Stops You From Writing

Writer-Type: Perfectionist

This isn’t a writer who aims to make every word perfect, but a writer who can’t get into the momentum of writing because they feel every word has to be perfect. It’s that fear, that perfectionism, that cripples them during their writing sessions.

This can lead to getting stuck in the writing process and not moving forward, or not starting at all.

What To Do:

The first fix is one for your mindset. You need to allow yourself to write without expectations, rules, or pressure.

That old chestnut of write like no one else will read it really applies here. Dig deep and examine why you’re so hesitant to put pen to paper.

Are you worried the words won’t match the images you see in your head? Do you think there’s no point in trying because nothing you write sounds like the books you read?

Becoming a good writer takes practice. Those books on your shelves result from multiple drafts and editing sessions. You’ll need to do those too to get your MS to the same level. But that won’t happen until you start the first draft.

Really have a look at your excuses for why you aren’t writing and remember that writing is only the first part of the process.

Editing is the real place where you make those words the best they can be. It’s easy to forget that when you’re trying to get the words right first go. You can change your words in later drafts, so don’t be afraid to craft lackluster sentences.

The second fix is to make a clear plan, set a time limit, and decide on a deadline.

Having a plan will keep you on track and stop you from procrastinating.

As for the time limit, apply it to your current task, I.e. 2 hours a day to write the first draft of chapter 1, or 45 minutes to edit yesterday’s scene. Again, the time limit will focus your attention on where it needs to be.

The deadline is something to set for the entire project. Give yourself X amount of time to complete it, being realistic and flexible.

Writer-Type: Planner

You love to plan and will plan, plan, plan—without moving beyond it to do any of the writing!

A planner is never short on enthusiasm and creativeness for the job. It’s getting started and finishing the job that is their weakness.

While planning helps you write, and some writers need a plan to get anything on paper, if planning is all you ever seem to do, it’s time to stop it from holding you back.

What To Do:

Limit your planning to only certain writing days or set portions of your writing session. Strike a balance of planning what to write, and actually doing some of that writing.

No plan is so concrete that it doesn’t change as the words flow, so splitting your writing session into planning and writing benefits both and helps you get your manuscript written faster.

Writer-Type: Down To The Wire

If you’re this type of writer, you love deadlines, but instead of using them to complete the task, you use them as the signal to start.

Waiting until you’re down to the wire might feel like an exciting way to get things done, but imagine how much easier and less stressful it will be to write and then have the time to go over it properly.

What To Do:

If you like the intensity of working to a deadline, write in sprints.

Give yourself a 10-30 minute time limit and work in focused, short bursts that will still allow for revisions and improvements to your pages.

Leaving things to the last minute will never produce your best work, no matter how much you convince yourself it does.

Writer-Type: Overwhelmed

If you’ve ever looked at your to-do list and thought it’d be easier to just not do it, your writer-type is most likely overwhelmed.

Abandoning your list won’t help, of course, and will only lead to the very real trouble of not being able to focus on what to work on first.

That kind of mix usually results in postponing everything as decision-making becomes too much. It’s the quickest way to not write a book.

What To Do:

This is where prioritizing is your friend. Rank the writing tasks on your to-do list in terms of importance and then work through them.

Take a leaf out of any organizing guru or motivational speaker’s handbook and tackle the hardest task first. With that done, all the other tasks will seem fun in comparison, or at least less overwhelming.

The to-do list can stretch over time if it needs to, and you can break each into its own mini task if that helps.

If you get really overwhelmed, cherry-pick the fun tasks, like researching the meanings behind the names of your characters, so it feels like you’ve still accomplished something. That motivation of completing an item should give you what you need to work through even the longest of to-do lists.

As you can see, once you’re aware of your triggers and can apply a new attitude/process to approaching your work, you should be able to tame your inner perfectionist/planner/down to the wire/overwhelmed writer and hopefully never be stopped from writing again! Until that self-doubt kicks in…

— K.M. Allan

So, which writer-type did you identify with the most? Are you definitely a Perfectionist or a mix of a Planner with a splash of Overwhelmed? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

41 thoughts on “What To Do When Your Writer-Type Stops You From Writing

  1. I can’t fully identify with any of them! Perhaps the part-time writer (not by choice) fits me best. Work + life + the business side of writing = fewer words on the page. Frankly, I don’t know how you do it, Kate, with home, family, and everything else you have going on. I keep plugging away but it’s so difficult at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m just plugging away too, Alexander. I once went 6 years without writing anything because of work, life, family etc. I really wanted to write my series, though, so one day I just started working on a daily writing habit. It wasn’t even much, 1/2 an hour to an hour a day of writing. The consistency kept me going and now I’ve written what I’ve written because of that one small habit.

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  2. Is there a field with all of the above? Lol. I think what’s important is that I determine the exact times I actually do other things besides writing, and then learn why I’m doing so. Anyway, great post as usual. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. vishalbheeroo

    I’m between perfectionist and overwhelmed, yet not able to translate thoughts into words with editing scaring the shit outta me..hehe I like the idea of minimum planning and start writing as if no one reading. Thanks for the inputs:)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Grant at Tame Your Book!

    Count me as another “all the above” writer. You nailed the solution with the development of a daily writing habit. Words flow from that one choice. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I, most assuredly, am a perfectionist. The thesaurus is always close by when I write, and I use it extensively. I come by this awful trait naturally. I’m a Virgo. Will I ever get past it? I rather doubt it, so I keep on searching for a way to get around it.

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  6. Hi Kate
    Interesting observations and suggestions. As a journalist for more than 50 years, I don’t really fit into any of these categories. Probably comes from long practice of meeting daily or otherwise tight deadlines for this newspapers and other organisations for which I worked in addition to running my own business. Mind you, have only written one book – a history of one of Melbourne’s leading hotels for their centenary celebrations which I had to knock over in a week. However, have written a few short stories. Can understand how difficult it can be though particularly if you are writing fiction.

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