It Might Not Be Writer’s Block…It Might Be Perfectionist’s Block

I was on a panel the other day with a group of very talented authors and the inevitable question popped up that seems to always pop up on writing panels: “How do you deal with Writer’s Block?” I was ready and armed with my standard answer (almost all of which can be found in this writing tip I posted a few years ago.) But then, one of the authors, the lovely and wise Emily Hainsworth, said something that was so beyond brilliant, I simply had to write it down and share it with you all.

“It might not be writer’s block,” she said. “It might be perfectionist’s block” When she said this, I had to control every impulse not to stand up, slam my hand down on the table and yell out, “YES! That’s it! That’s what I’ve been trying to convey every time someone has asked me this question!”


I’ve tried to say this very thing in several not-so-eloquent ways, but Emily really nailed it right on the head. I truly believe that what we call “Writer’s Block” is most of the time just “Perfectionist’s Block.” It’s the fear of not being good enough. Not being perfect enough. When we sit down and face the daunting blank page, most of the time it’s not that we don’t know what to write, it’s that we worry that what we do write won’t be what we want. It won’t come out as perfect and beautiful as we envision it in our heads. Because we can all WRITE. That’s not the problem. We can all sit down and vomit out 10 or 100 or 1000 crappy horrible words that may not even make sense, right? Of course we can. But that’s not what we want to write. Because 1000 crappy, horrible words don’t fit the romanticized version of the writer’s life that we have in our heads. But sometimes 1000 crappy, horrible words are just the reality. Not every day of an author’s life is going to be unicorns and rainbows. Not every day are we going to sit down and spew out magic. Some days, we have to  bound and gag our inner perfectionist in the closet and just let ourselves be writers. And yes, we can always let that inner perfectionist out of the closet when we’re ready for them. (i.e when the book or project is done.) Until then, bring on the crap! Write that crap.Own that crap. And remember what I always say, “Don’t be afraid to write crap. Crap makes great fertilizer.


Want to learn more? Check out my online course on Conquering Writers Block

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  Comments: 6

  1. I was on Amazon and JUST SEEN you have a Save the Cat book on its WAY!! W O W!!!!!! YAY!!! WHOO– HOO!!!!!! I am so EXCITED FOR YOU!! Can’t wait to get it!! THIS IS BEYOND AWESOME! This is the STC spark I desperately need. CANNOT WAIT!!!! C O N G R A T S!!! So well-deserved! X❤️ X❤️XO X❤️ XO

    And LOVE THIS post! Perfectionist’s Block is 100%!! Great advice, Jess!

    • Thanks so much for these terrific compliments on the post and on the book! I’m glad it is helping you with your writing!

      • I just packed away six revisions of a novel I did 10 years ago and realized if I don’t get it out into the market, I could keep revising forever. I have five other novels I’ve never even tried to market. I didn’t realize it until I started packing to move to Arizona and found all these different versions of the same novel. I am going to be in quarantine for Two weeks when I reach Arizona so I intend to pull out one novel version and submit it. Even though the markets have shrunk. No more excuses.

  2. Again, sorry for the duplicates- auto-fill filled the wrong name. 🙁 Also meant to add SUPER congrats on 52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER and UNREMEMBERED movie production!! SO WELL-DESERVED! Can’t wait!!! And to have Karen McCullah (Legally Blonde) be the one writing the screenplay – W O W -!! It’s going to top the charts for sure! Thank you for always uplifting writers. You are one of the reasons why I LOVE Save the Cat!! And this literally just re-energized me in a MUCH needed way. You have no idea. Much love to you, Jess! You are on fire 🙂 XXXX

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