A Writer’s Biggest Struggle – Procrastination? Perfectionism? What?

Every so often, you stumble across a story, saying, or joke that perfectly sums up your feelings at that moment. For me, I was fortunate to open an email from Howard VanEs, President of Let’s Write Books, Inc.

I felt like he read my mind. Like Howard, I’ve experienced setbacks due to procrastination, perfectionism, and lack of confidence sharing my work. He granted me permission to reprint his email. I bet you’ll uncover some of your writing obstacles as well.

A True Publishing Story (Names have been omitted to protect the innocent!)

by Howard VanEs, President of Let’s Write Books, Inc.

It took me ten years, two months and seventy-two days to write and publish my first book, but with what I know now, I could have done it in five months. Hell, it only took Tolstoy six years to write 1,225 pages of War and Peace. Herman Melville wrote Moby Dick in eighteen months and used words like “foudroyant” and “milquetoast” in every other sentence. My book, on the other hand, was 125 pages and I still don’t know what “foudroyant” means. Ask yourself, what are the three biggest obstacles preventing you from getting your book published? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

A Writer’s Biggest Struggle – Procrastination

My first setback was, of course, procrastination. My job was a great excuse for me not to put pen to paper or finger to keyboard. Instead of following my passion of writing, I began a career in advertising as an account executive for a blue-chip brand. Both of my parents had advertising backgrounds and would wax on about the golden age of the Mad Men days when they’d schmooze with clients on three-hour martini lunches. In stark contrast, I had twenty minute lunches at my desk which were usually frantically interrupted by my boss when she couldn’t find her highlighter. Though I hated the job, I had a wife and two kids, so I made excuses and slogged on.

Getting Fired Was the Best Thing That Ever Happened

I love my family and would do anything for them but over time, the burning cocktail of career unfulfillment and a desire to write my story was festering inside of me. Eventually I was fired from that job, which was simultaneously shattering and was also the best thing that ever happened to me. It shook me out of my malaise and helped me realize I never, ever wanted to go back to advertising. I wanted to write.

It took me five years to get to that point. I include this period in the ten years it took me to write my first book because all of those years wasted in advertising were part of the process. If I could, I would go back in time, remove my younger self’s head from up the ass of his clients and slap some sense into him. But alas, here we are. When I began writing, the years of pent-up frustration and lack of creative expression meant the words poured out of me onto the page. A writer’s Shangri-La, and over the next several months I had finished the first draft of my book.

A Writer’s Biggest Struggle – Perfectionism

Enter the second obstacle: perfectionism. It kind of sounds like a humble brag, but it really jammed me up. One day I’d look at my draft and think wow that’s pretty good. A day later I’d slam my laptop closed and scream, “IT’S ALL CRAP!” This went on for about 3 more years. In retrospect, the tinkering and editing I did over this time period did not really change the overall product. The revisions were not about making the piece better, I just lacked the confidence in my writing at that time to even consider it was remotely finished. It will NEVER be perfect. Eventually I would learn that I didn’t choose the writing, it chose me, and at some point you just have to trust that your piece is ready to be shared.

A Writer’s Biggest Struggle – When to Share Your Work

Enter problem number three: when to share your work? To begin, here’s a word of advice: never show it to your parents. Good God was that a mistake. The most positive feedback I got from them was “I don’t get it” and, “I don’t know if writing is your thing.” I shared it with some other friends and family and the reviews were mixed, causing me to plunge even further into insecurity. What I should have done was trusted myself and the story I wanted to tell. I had fallen into the trap of caring too much about what others thought of my personal work. And so, the second-guessing and self-doubt dragged on. I’d like to call this period: death by a thousand spell checks.

Over the next two years my wife urged me to submit my work to a publisher. I responded with melodramatic outbursts accusing her of “not understanding me as an artist” (whatever that meant). Over the years, her persistence paid off and I submitted my work. Now this story does not have a “my piece was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to, and we lived happily ever after” vibe. I ended up submitting it to several publishers and got a number of letters saying, “Thank you for submitting, but…” So, did I give up? No, I decided to self-publish. Best decision I ever made. I was amazed at the positive outpouring of support and found that there was a real audience who appreciated my work and bought my book. Finally, I found that feeling of creative fulfilment and satisfaction. My outlook on life started to improve and I started waking up every morning excited to see what the new day would bring. Book #2 is on the way.

What's a Writer's Biggest Struggle? Procrastination? Perfectionism? What? Stacey GustafsonA Writer’s Biggest Struggle – Procrastination, Perfectionism and Having the Confidence to Share My Work

So, let’s recap. My three obstacles were: procrastinationperfectionism and having the confidence to share my work. It took me ten years to learn these lessons so I hope they can be of help to you. I am happy to say; however, obstacles are only temporary. Today I have learned to trust in myself and just write. When you have that great idea, do yourself a favor and don’t do it tomorrow. Do it today. No matter what is going on in your life, find time. I did. If I had never gotten fired, I might still be working as an account executive and making coffee for higher-ups eighty-four times a day. Now I make coffee for myself before I sit down at my laptop to create. And you can too.

Will 2021 be the year you publish your book? Wherever you are in the process we can help you take it to the next stage. For a free twenty-minute consultation simply email me at Howard@letswritebooks.net and include the words “I’m ready for the next step” in the subject line.

Keep writing!
Howard VanEs

Are You Still Kidding Me?

Are You Still Kidding Me? Available Pre-Order Stacey GustafsonWant more? Are You Still Kidding Me? is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback. What are reviewers saying?

“I love Stacey Gustafson’s voice–her stories and how she shares them! She is entertaining, relevant and relatable, and her new book is for anyone who is a parent, child, spouse, or other.” – Wendy Liebman, stand-up comedian, semi-finalist on American’s Got Talent, Taller on TV 

Buy now at https://amzn.to/2w81huR

About staceygustafson


  1. Well said. Thank you!

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.