6 Ways to Stop Endlessly Rewriting And Actually Finish

By Kathryn Burnett 

When it comes to bad writing habits this has to be one of the worst! 

We sit down to write and then spend our precious time editing, rewriting and fiddly-diddling with the beginning of our story. And then we do it the next time too.

And why is this a problem?  

Because it stops us finishing.  

And this habit is so sneaky!  It might look like work but it’s procrastination in disguise.  We could fiddle with and finesse that first sentence, first chapter or first 10 pages FOREVER.  And you know it’s true.

So I thought I’d share a variety of tips to help you break that gnarly habit – and start moving your project forward.

  1. Focus on Completion Not Perfection. The day when your work is perfect is never going to come.  And even if you don’t believe me, it isn’t time to perfect your work yet!  This is “get the rough or first draft done” time.  You can edit to your heart’s content – later.  And please remind yourself that no one is going to see your work at the moment – so it doesn’t have to be “perfect” just yet.
  2. Reward New Words On The Page.  Let the editing or rewriting be a reward for getting new words on the page.  By which I mean – write first and rewrite last – as a reward.  Then when you come back to your next writing sesh – same deal applies.  Write first, then rewrite.
  3. Remind Yourself of Your Writing Goal.   Endless rewriting is a super nifty way of making sure your project never sees the light of day.  And I’m pretty sure that ISN”T your goal.  So seriously, tell yourself OUTLOUD that this tinkering won’t move your project forward but bashing out some new words most definitely will.  And remind yourself that you’re on a journey and that it’ll take some time to get there.
  4. Reframe Any Negative Feelings About The Blank Page.  Yes, it’s more challenging creating something out of nothing and much easier (and more fun) to fiddle with something that already exists BUT the blank page is exhilarating.  It can be anything.  Plus – how awesome is it that we’re in the business of creating stories on a page?  Not everyone can do that.
  5. Be Accountable to Someone.  Find someone to be your accountability buddy – and decide to report in weekly or even daily on your progress.
  6. Focus on the action you can take to move your project forward.  Instead of getting stuck in over-analysis and criticism circuit simply stop and ask yourself – what is the one small step I can take to move my project forward today? And focus on that.  The rest is just white noise.

© Kathryn Burnett 2018



4 thoughts on “6 Ways to Stop Endlessly Rewriting And Actually Finish”

  1. I really hope I’m going to be strong enough to take this advice, cause, frankly, my lack of progress is killing me. Even now, as I’m writing this comment, i am resisting the need to rephrase it.

    1. Stay strong G! Editing as you go means you’re not fully engaging your right brain – operating instead out of your rational, logical critical left brain. How about this? Allow yourself to write rough for a set amount of time – knowing that you’re going to let yourself rewrite later on when you’ve finished the rough version. Another thought – noone else gets to see the rough version so relax – it doesn’t have to be perfect.

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