Strive for progress, not perfection

Strive for progress, not perfection

Done is better than perfect. Just finish the thing. You can’t edit a blank page.

All great advice for writers when they’re in the middle of the first draft slog. Keep going.

But what happens when the words literally won’t come? When the muse won’t show up?

Common advice for when you’ve got writer’s block (which my friend Jackie Dana has always maintained does not exist) is to write something outrageous to break up the monotony and get your juices flowing.

Kill a character.

Someone start a fight.

Have them do something opposite to what they would normally do.

Make them all vampires.

That last tip is mine. I know from personal experience and three wins for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) that it is an effective strategy to finish … a terrible first draft.

Anne Lamott affectionately calls them “shitty first drafts”, which I much prefer. Everyone’s first draft is awful—and it should be. It’s the first time you’re telling yourself the story. There’s no nuance or snappy dialog. It’s just you herding kittens to get the worst version of the thing somewhere you can hate it and then move on to making it something you hate less.

From the publishing and marketing perspectives, you’ll start with shitty first drafts too. You’ll upload the wrong cover to KDP. Your Facebook ads will be expensive and you won’t know if you’re selling books because of them. Your website will be ugly.
You’ll decide to quit 457,878,227 times a month, if you’re like most of us.

Keep going.

Every mistake is a lesson. An iteration. A chance to pivot.

You’ll get better. You will. There’s science that proves it, but you can just trust me on this. If you keep going and learn from every experiment, whether it’s writing better dialog, or finding better keywords, or creating a checklist that keeps track of the right cover to upload, you’ll start to see success.

This month’s issue is all about these first drafts and how to finish. You’ll find a wealth of tried and true tips and resources to help you, and I highly recommend these strategies over my NaNoWriMo one.

Unless you write vampires.

Keep Going,

Picture of Chelle Honiker

Chelle Honiker

Chelle Honiker is an advocate for the empowerment of authorpreneurs, recognizing the importance of authors taking charge of both their craft and careers. In response to this need, she has founded a media and training company dedicated to supporting these creative professionals. As the co-founder and publisher of Indie Author Magazine, IndieAuthorTraining, Indie Author Tools, and, Chelle’s team of more than 80 writers, editors, trainers, and support staff provides resources and insights that help authors navigate the complexities of self-publishing. Her role as the programming director for Author Nation, an annual conference in Las Vegas, further exemplifies her commitment to fostering a community where authors can grow and succeed. With a career spanning over two decades in executive operations and leadership, Chelle has honed her skills in managing complex projects and delivering impactful training programs. Her experience as a speaker and TEDx Organizer has taken her to many countries, where she has shared her insights with diverse audiences.

Make an Appointment with Chelle

Start or Join a Conversation About This Article:

When Writing Means Business, Storytellers Read Indie Author Magazine

Read Indie Annie's Latest Advice:

Dear Indie Annie,

I’ve just hired a new cover designer for my series, but English is not their first language. I want to make the process run smoothly. Any tips for working around a language barrier? Lost in Translation Dear Lost in Translation, Oh, poppet, collaborating across cultures can feel as daunting as decoding hieroglyphics! But with patience and open communication, you can transcend language barriers. View this as a thrilling expedition with your design sherpa! What you

Read More »

Dear Indie Annie,

I know it’s important to understand who you’re writing and marketing to, but how do I develop my ideal reader avatar? Every time I try, it feels like I’m limiting myself. Needing to Niche Down Dear Niche,  Oh darling, focusing on your target audience feels as frightening as finalizing a paint palette for your parlor. Why choose when there are so many gorgeous colors to pick from? But defining your ideal reader liberates your creativity

Read More »

Dear Indie Annie,

In the past, I’ve hired editors, cover designers, and even a virtual assistant. Passing off those responsibilities makes sense, but internal formatting always seems so straightforward. At what point is it worth investing in professional formatting services? Frugal Formatter Dear Frugal, Oh my, that moniker sounds like you’re an inhabitant of Middle Earth, but I digress. Formatting your own manuscript seems as simple as building a bookcase from IKEA: just insert tab A into slot

Read More »

Follow Us

Weekly Tutorial

Sign up for our Newsletter

We’ll send you our best articles, special offers, and industry updates

Would You Like a Free Issue?

Hello! I’m Indie Annie, and I would love to send you a copy of this month’s issue of Indie Author Magazine. Just join our email list and I’ll drop it in your inbox!