Skip to main content

Just Turn It In!

Like most writers I know, I can be sort of a perfectionist. I don’t like to turn in work for class until I’ve revised and revised until I can’t revise anymore. I’m fully aware that this is crazy: the whole point of turning in work is to get feedback and ideas; what you hand in is not supposed to be a final draft.

But something—whether it’s pride or anal retentiveness—prevents me from allowing myself to hand in a draft I’m not satisfied with, and I’ve found that the farther I go in my program, the worse my problem gets.

The reason it becomes a problem is that I fall behind on page count. I don’t turn in enough pages per week, not because I’m not writing, but because I don’t feel that what I’ve written is ready for the eyes of my professor and classmates quite yet. Last year, one of my teachers gave me a pretty simple piece of advice: at a certain point, you���ve just gotta turn in the work. And I did, sheepishly, the next week: forty pages I’d been hanging onto since the beginning of the semester.

That’s what I’m telling myself now, as I’m holding onto this full movement that I just can’t bring myself to turn in, even though it was due last week! (By the way, I’m not sure if “full movement” is a Columbia-specific term, so let me quickly define: it’s a piece seen from beginning to end—an entire story or a long sustained scene or chapter that can stand on its own).

Today I was hanging out with my mom and sister, both of whom are teachers, and I confessed to them that I hadn’t turned in my homework. My mom quickly morphed into sixth-grade teacher mode. She pointed at me and said sternly: “you better get that in. Otherwise, he’s not gonna take it, and you know what? I don’t blame him!”

So I’m going to just bite the bullet, turn it in, and hope for the best. There’s no one who can kick your butt into reality quite like Mom can.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Submitting Your Work

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Submitting Your Work

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not submitting your work.

Making Your Fiction a Place You Want To Be

Making Your Fiction a Place You Want To Be

Author Janet Key shares the feeling of not wanting to revisit the world she was creating and the tools she used to help make her fiction a place she wanted to be.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Backstory Change

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Backstory Change

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character's backstory change.

Writer’s Digest Official Book Club Selection: Portrait of a Thief

Writer’s Digest Official Book Club Selection: Portrait of a Thief

The editors of Writer’s Digest are proud to bring you the first book club pick, Portrait of a Thief, to read along with us.

6 Ways To Fight Your Inner Critics

6 Ways To Fight Your Inner Critics

For many writers, self-critique gets in the way of making much progress. Here, author Julia Crouch shares 6 ways to fight your inner critics.

Writing Allegory: A Convenient Place to Hide

Writing Allegory: A Convenient Place to Hide

Where realistic fiction felt both too restrictive and too revealing for author Susan Speranza’s transition from poetry to fiction, she turned to allegory. Here, she shares examples of famous allegories throughout history and how allegorical writing helped shape her novel, Ice Out.

Instagram: An Underutilized Tool for the Freelance Writer

Instagram: An Underutilized Tool for the Freelance Writer

In this post, author C. Hope Clark shares tips on how freelance writers can use Instagram as a tool to find more freelance writing connections, assignments, and overall success.

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

Jane Porter: On the Joy of Writing Mature Characters

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jane Porter discusses celebrating the nature of getting older in her new romance novel, Flirting With Fifty.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 610

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a "different way of seeing the world" poem.