Ahoy and happy Monday!
Welcome to another week of Start Writing Online—where every week we dive into 1 of the 10 biggest problems all writers face:
- Generating ideas
- Impostor syndrome
- Writing consistently
- Finding time to write
- Loose feedback loops
(And, of course, if you want to crush all 10 of these AND master the fundamentals of Digital Writing in just 30 days, we'd love to have you in the next cohort of Ship 30 for 30!)
This week, we want to help you tackle the perfectionism holding you back from publishing.
One of the Digital Writing Laws we live by is: “Imperfectly Published Is Better Than Perfect But Unpublished.”
And it goes right to the heart of defeating the age-old writer’s excuse:
“It’s not ready yet.”
So ask yourself: when will it be ready?
One of the biggest realizations writers need to face early on is that perfect is an unreasonable standard to meet. Nothing is “perfect”. More importantly, aiming for perfection slows you down. Other writers, who aren’t aiming for perfect, end up zooming right by you.
Perfectionism leads to a range of delaying tactics:
So if this sounds like you, here are 3 reasons why you should ditch the perfectionism and just hit “Publish” instead.
Reason #1: Allow yourself to create “junk”
The vast majority of writing advice books can be boiled down to a single rule: Write.
If you don’t allow yourself to write (and create “subpar” work in the process) you’re never going to practice and master your craft. You shouldn’t be worried about creating “junk” because you aren’t the final judge on how good your work is. That’s the job of the audience.
Let’s look at an example. The literary world hates on writers like E.L James (Fifty Shades of Grey) or writers like Stephenie Meyer (Twilight). Whether you think their work is any good doesn't matter.
But guess what?
They hit publish. The world voted with their attention and with their dollars. And they sold millions of copies (and made millions of dollars) in the process.
Aiming for perfection isn’t productive.
Reason #2: Volume wins in the world of Digital Writing
There are clear steps to making 6 and even 7-figures as a writer and it starts with writing and publishing a lot.
Writers who make money from their work online understand 3 things:
- Improvement comes from gathering feedback
- They’re not the smartest person in the room (and don’t need to be)
- The internet rewards consistency and audience building (not a one-off, “perfected” piece).
And to capitalize on all these benefits of writing online you need to keep publishing. It doesn’t matter if your work isn’t “perfect”. What matters is you publish to your followers (who like to see consistent writers) and you get feedback on your ideas (which will help you improve).
All this requires volume.
Reason #3: Confront how talented you are with feedback
Perfectionism is the biggest self-defense mechanism for writers.
If you never have to publish your work (by saying “It’s not ready yet”) then you’ll never have to face up to how talented you are. It’s safer to stay in the shadows, fiddling over adjectives and adverbs until you lose all confidence in your writing and decide not to publish.
That’s not what we want for you or any other writer.
Instead, focus on publishing. It’s the best way to get feedback on your work. Every time you put something out into the world you’re leaving it up to the judgment of others to decide whether your writing is good or not.
Once you see what’s working and what’s not, you can practice, improve, and master the art of Digital Writing.
Now, let’s dive into the strategies you need to beat perfectionism.
The single most effective way of beating perfectionism is by using constraints
To beat the procrastination that naturally arises from perfectionism, give yourself some constraints.
The 5 most useful ones are:
- Time. Decide on a specific time to write every day. Set a timer for how long you’ll write. Once the timer is up, hit publish.
- Topic. Get clear on who you’re writing for, what you’re writing about, and why it’s important. That way you won’t get sidetracked by tangents in your writing.
- Length. Give yourself a limit on how many words you’re going to write every time you sit down to write.
- Medium. Tweets. Atomic Essays. Long-form blogs. LinkedIn posts. Each medium has its own set of “rules” which keep you from overthinking.
- Cadence. Decide how often you’ll publish your work - and stick to it no matter what. You can start small before working up to a daily publishing routine. But remember—in the world of Digital Writing volume wins.
That's it for today!
Chat next week!
–Dickie Bush & Nicolas Cole
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