Three Sneaky Types of Writer’s Procrastination Keeping You from Finishing Your Book

[photo credit: Annie Spratt via Unsplash. Isn't it great?]

Let me guess…

You have one (or 12) unfinished writing projects stashed in the back of your desk drawer, or buried 22 subfolders deep on your hard drive.

These unfinished writing projects might include:

  • Stalled novel manuscript(s)
  • Illegible memoir notes on napkins 
  • Scattered bits of short stories 

Sound familiar?

If you’re like the vast majority of writers I work with in the First Book Finish program, it’s probably far too familiar. 

You may be comfortable with things the way they are. In fact, you may even believe your fate as the “half-finished creative” is sealed because you think:

“That’s just how my brain works.”

“I’ve always been like this.”

“I enjoy having multiple projects to choose from.”

“Who has the time to actually finish a book anyway?”

I’ve heard every single line above and more. 

When it comes to justifying half-finished creative work, writers are experts. 

The truth is, you are more than capable of finishing your writing projects.


  • That novel manuscript, polished and ready for your editor
  • Memoir notes taking shape into a coherent draft 
  • Short stories ready for submission

Easier said than done, right?

Yes, it is. And I’ll tell you the number one reason you’re not finishing your book: Procrastination.

The author’s arch nemesis is procrastination. 

What is procrastination anyway? 

Procrastination is the voluntary delay of an intended action, despite the knowledge that this delay may cause harm in terms of the task performance, and/or how the individual feels about the task and/or themselves.

Keywords: May cause harm. 

We don't tend to procrastinate on unhealthy habits, do we? 

We procrastinate on tasks that are important to us, which is incredibly frustrating.

Why are we like this?

When it comes to writers, I see three sneaky types of procrastination that keep us from our work. 

Here’s how to recognize and overcome them… 

Sneaky Writer’s Procrastination Type #1: The Pro-craft-stinator (AKA the Perfectionist)

The Pro-craft-stinator is always “one more writing workshop” away from finally being a “good enough” writer to finish their book.

They want to be 110 percent sure they’ve nailed their plot, characters, dialogue, pacing, setting, world creation, and so forth. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to write the best story possible—except when that desire means you never finish writing anything at all. 

And craft isn’t the only thing that trips up this perfectionist.

Pro-craft-stinators get tangled up in an endless search for the PERFECT:

  • Tool or method for outlining
  • Platform or software for drafting and organizing their draft
  • Writing space and creature comforts...the cozy sweater with elbow patches and the Pinterest-ready shabby chic desk
  • Conditions and routine…hours of absolute silence in a wooded retreat 
  • Synonym for said (uttered, declared, stated, commented, remarked—let’s stick with said)

Don’t get me wrong. I love nerding out over craft as much as the next writer. 

But you know what I love even more?

A first draft that’s ready for revision.

A polished revision ready to send to an editor or beta readers.


My book in the hands of readers.

Even if traditional publication or indie-publication isn’t your ultimate goal, you NEED to finish your writing projects. 

(At least the projects that are worth finishing because not every project is.)

Writers have an innate desire to see their work to fruition.  

What if you’re absolutely not a perfectionist?  

You already embrace the crappy first draft.

Maybe you relate more to type two…

Sneaky Writer’s Procrastination Type #2: The Tax Collector

Ahh, the Tax Collector. I’m certain uttering the phrase sends a chill down your spine. But what does it have to do with writing?

A writer acts as a Tax Collector when they demand something in exchange for their creative efforts.

This writer’s beliefs are rooted in receiving something tangible in exchange for their creative time. They are in effect “taxing” their own writing time. 

They may expect that prioritizing their writing will require huge sacrifices in other areas of their life, such as their health, marriage, friendships, or parenting. 

The Tax Collector may also believe that they need to make money on their work, in order to justify the time and resources they spend on writing. 

Writers who are paid for their creative work in their day job, such as copywriters or journalists, commonly fall into this trap.

You may be a Tax Collector if:

  • You guilt yourself out of creative time—“I can’t take this time away from my partner or kids. They need me.”
  • You trade your writing time for more so-called practical things—“I can’t write when the laundry is piled up to the ceiling.”
  • You question your desire to write—“What if I spend all of this time on the manuscript for nothing? Is it even worth it, if I’m not going to make any money?”

I’m not saying you don't have a ton of other obligations. Of course you do. We all do. 

A dedicated writing practice requires your time, energy, and effort. But it’s more about prioritization than sacrifice.

And I want to make money from my writing as often as possible. But that’s not the reason I write. 

I’m guessing if you dig deeper, money isn’t your true motivation either.  

So, how do you break free from this type of procrastination?

What if you start making time for your writing simply because you enjoy it?

No monetary expectations attached.

No need to sacrifice your health or relationships. 

Just sit down and write for the JOY of it. 

Already spend plenty of time writing for the fun of it, but still can’t seem to get to “The End”?

Maybe you relate to procrastination type three…

Sneaky Writer’s Procrastination Type #3: The Commitment-Phobe

The Commitment-Phobe refuses to commit to seeing a single writing project through to completion. 

Instead, they write a little of this memoir here. But, wait, what’s over there? They jump to that 10K-word YA manuscript. Meanwhile, yet another half-finished manuscript is calling their name. 

Of course, the Commitment-Phobe also battles the temptation to start on a shiny, new idea they had at 4:00 a.m. 

This writer believes they are multi-manuscript-passionate, and that they can’t function creatively any other way.  

They spend the bulk of their writing time deciding which project to work on, instead of writing. 

Their creative energy is splintered—characters, ideas, and plot points from different worlds commingling.  

The result: A frustrated writer who doesn’t make meaningful progress on any project. 

You may be a Commitment-Phobe, if you say things like:

  • “I love to multi-task. I’m actually good at it!”
  • “I’d get bored if I only had one work-in-progress. So, I have five.”
  • All of my projects are important to me. How am I supposed to choose one?”

So many writers fall into this category. We’re writers, after all. Having tons of ideas is what we do. 

The problem is, you may never get to bring any of your books to life. 

The real reason you won’t commit to one project?

It’s not because you can’t. Writers do it every day, even the ones who love having multiple drafts in progress.

You’re afraid to commit because then you’ll have to finish the book

And finishing the book opens a whole new can of fear about whether or not your book is good enough. 

What’s a multi-manuscript-passionate writer to do?

What if you choose one project today and commit to it for the next 90 days—no matter what?

How much progress will you make if you are FOCUSED on a single draft?

This won’t be easy, especially if you’re trying to break a decades-long habit. 

You will have doubts. You will have 1,247 new ideas flying at you. You will wonder if you made the “right” decision. You will be tempted to run to another project.

But, hear me out…

What if you stop running away from your work when it gets tough?

You tell yourself, “It’s okay. It’s all part of the process. I’m committed to finishing THIS book.”

You start each week with a writing plan.

You allow yourself to settle down with ONE work in progress. 

You accept that your first draft will be a rough draft. 

You give yourself the time, space, and freedom to BE a writer.

You remember why you wanted to be a writer in the first place. 

You reconnect with the part of you who dreams of sharing your stories with readers. 

You fall in love with your writing again. 

You ARE a writer. 

This is what you do. 

Are You Ready to Finally Finish Your Book?

Get all of the support you need in ONE place… 

First Book Finish is my signature program for writers who are serious about becoming AUTHORS. 

This isn’t another writing course that only gets you so far, then you’re on your own.

It's a soup-to-nuts experience guiding you through the complete book cycle: from drafting, to revision, to feedback, to publishing and promotion. 

First Book Finish is a one-stop-shop for writers—an online course combined with weekly group coaching, accountability, and the intensive support you need to get your book into the hands of readers.

Registration opens again this spring. 

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