Real Writers Finish

This is the last lesson in our three-part series on Get Unstuck and Finish Your Book. You can find Part One here and Part Two here. Watch today's lesson or read the transcript below.

In our last two lessons, we talked about what you need to write your book. In this lesson, let's talk about one of the biggest obstacles to finishing your book.

Because at some point during the writing process, you're almost certainly going to hit a wall.

If you've been writing long enough, you have almost certainly experienced this before. It's called writer's block.

You're writing along great. Each page feels fresh and exciting. The book seems to be writing itself. If you can keep this up, you'll have a book finished in no time and it will be amazing.

And then, something goes wrong. Perhaps you write a chapter that you're not sure about, something that clearly isn't as good as the chapters that came before it.

Or perhaps hit a problem in your story where you're just not sure what needs to happen next.

All of a sudden, the momentum you had is gone. Everything in your book feels like it's broken, and each sentence you write seems like wading through quicksand.

Writing a Book Is Hard

This happens to every writer I know. I'm sure there are writers out there who don't struggle with debilitating bouts of writer's block, but I haven't met them.

Here are a few things you might feel when you're writing a book:

  • Panic: “I have a deadline. If I don't write this next scene, I'm going to be so behind.”
  • Anxiety: “If I write this chapter wrong, the whole book could be ruined.” 
  • Insecurity: “I'm not good a good enough writer to be writing this book.”
  • Self-Doubt: “I will never write a great book.”
  • Near physical pain: “Ughhhh! Writing is so hard!”
  • Apathy: “Writing just isn't my passion anymore.”
  • Laziness: “It would be easier to quit.”
  • Self-sabotage: “If I'm not going to write a great book, what's the point in writing at all.”
  • Humiliation. “I've never felt so stupid as I do while writing this horrible book.”

Do any of these sound familiar?

You will almost certainly hit one, several, or even all of these emotions in the midst of writing your book.

How are you going to handle these obstacles without quitting? How are you going to finish your book under the weight of these negative feelings?

Free Yourself from Perfectionism

As someone who has written seven books and who has coached thousands of writers, I've found that all of the things I listed above are caused by one thing: Perfectionism.

In part two of this series, we talked about the 4 essentials things you need to finish your book. These tools really work, and if you haven't watched the video yet, you really should.

But no matter what you do to focus on your book, you will fail unless you work through your perfectionism. It is by far the biggest obstacle writers deal with.

One of my favorite books on creativity is called The Tools by two therapists in Hollywood who treat some of the best actors, producers, and screenwriters in the film industry.

One day, a screenwriter who had been completely blocked for several years came to see them. After listening to him talk about his inability to write for most of the session, the therapist told him to do something unusual.

Kneel in front of your computer, he said, for one minute every day, and pray to the universe for the ability to write the worst sentence in the world.

The worst sentence in the world?! I imagine the screenwriter said. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

However, he went home and did it. A few months later he had written a new screenplay, and when the film was finally released, it was a huge hit that went on to win an Academy Award.

The Lesson: Don't worry about writing a good book. Seriously. That only leads to perfectionism. Instead, meditate on writing imperfect, broken sentences. Imagine yourself writing sentences that are so bad they're embarrassing.

When you finally write them down, you'll probably be surprised at how good they are.

All of this leads to the following conclusion:

Perfect is a myth. Strive for connection.

I can't write your book for you. I can't make this easier. Writing a book will be hard.

However remember this: Your job is not to write perfect sentences. You have to begin the novel you aren’t ready to begin. You have to write the chapter that is immature and incomplete. This idea that you need to be perfect is a myth. It is a lie and it will destroy your creativity.

But this is actually a good thing.

Because your readers aren’t perfect either. And how could they ever relate to you and your writing if you were perfect?

Instead of trying to be perfect strive for the opposite of perfection: vulnerability, the courage to tell your story with your whole heart. If you write with courage instead of perfection, I can guarantee you will end up with a much better book.

So say this with me:

What I've learned is that when you’re writing a book, you always feel most frustrated and confused right before you have a breakthrough. 

So may you write with vulnerability and courage, may you remember in the midst of writer's block that you are close to a breakthrough, and most of all, may you keep writing.


One of the best ways to defeat writer's block is to get support from other writers who have been there, from your writing community. If you're dealing with writer's block, then I have an assignment for you. Share the premise of your story and where you're stuck with at least three writing friends.

Why three? Because sometimes you'll get advice from one friend that, while well-meaning, just makes your problem worse. But if you share with three, odds are that one will be able to help.

And if you don't have three writing friends that's okay. Soon, I'm going to be sharing an opportunity to write your book with a whole community of other writers who will have your back throughout the book writing process.

Stay tuned for that.

To complete your assignment: First, find your premise from the first lesson. Then, share your premise and what you're stuck on with three writing friends.