Here’s the Lesson All Productive Writers Have Learned

Here’s the secret to writing productivity you’ve always wanted to know.

Have you ever wondered how productive, creative people manage to get so much done?

It’s likely they all have one thing in common. They’ve all learned the same lesson, which they’ve gone on to apply to every aspect of their work as a creative human.

The lesson? Never put 100 percent effort into anything you do.


Because when you do that, you’re spending a lot of your energy trying to make things perfect. And you should know by now that you can never create something perfect. You’re just wasting your time.

You can’t correct all the flaws you see in your writing.

You can’t do 12 revisions just hoping this one will be good enough.

You just can’t keep letting yourself approach creativity like that. Creating is supposed to be about making something you’re proud of, not making something spotless. That extra effort turns creativity into a chore, which it should never be.

Don’t agonize over whether every single detail of your work lines up exactly the way you’re dreaming of.

Make it good — but don’t obsess over making it great.

Remember, you’re your worst critic. You see tiny cracks in the foundation of your writing no one else can see. You’ve studied and scrutinized it so heavily that you want to fill in all the holes, paint over all the imperfections, make it stronger — because you’ve seen it at its worst.

Others don’t see what you see. It’s very likely they already see a well refined, heavily polished piece of writing. You can’t always see it. But they will.

Stop trying to be the best. No one knows what “the best” means.

Instead, strive to be great. Make things that make you happy. But that moment you feel you’re finished — even if there’s a part of you that wants to argue — finish. Call it done. Hand it off to someone else.

It’s not ever going to get easier.

You’re always going to want your work to be better.

But honestly, the only way you’re going to get better is by spending less time trying to do everything perfectly and more time working on new things.

Don’t get stuck trying to refine the same old thing. Move on. That’s how you grow.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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6 thoughts on “Here’s the Lesson All Productive Writers Have Learned

  1. … a great reminder for all writers! I want to share this post, if I may. It’s especially relevant with NaNoWriMo beginning tomorrow. Perfection, especially in the first draft, goes out the window. We just do the best we can in all writing endeavors and call it done.

      1. Haha. Yeah. Me too. Totally. Sort of. At least my region’s kick off party helped me fill in a couple more plot points.

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