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Stop Procrastinating and Get Published


By: Marilyn L. Davis




Procrastinating? Could Be Your Fears 


“Don’t you ever get scared?” I ask.

“Of what?” She says,

“Of not being good enough.”

“You mean at writing?” L’il asks.

I nod. “What if I’m the only one who thinks I can do it and no one else does? What if I’m fooling myself?”

“Oh, Carrie.” She smiles. “Don’t you know that every writer feels that way? Fear is part of the job.” ― Candace Bushnell, author of Summer and the City


There is so much competition for readers, subscribers, and followers today that I think many writers don’t publish for fear of being judged and compared to other bloggers.

It’s rather like ice cream. Suppose you only eat “store-bought” vanilla. In that case, you’ll never realize how many varieties there are: natural, gelato, gluten-free, lactose-free, no sugar added, and well, you’re probably getting the point. But many people do realize their choices of ice cream, and it’s the same for blogs. Readers get selective, and writers get scared.


When Readers Like our Brand


Our readers either like our writing, or they’ll head as quickly as possible to another site. For many, it’s that knowledge that creates fear and prevents them from ever publishing anything or even submitting a guest blog.

We are exposed when we write. It's our choice of words, unique phrasing, or slant on the topic, and for some writers, it's easier to procrastinate rather than feel vulnerable. Click To Tweet

However, if we want to get published, we have to overcome these fears.

Working with people in the addicted population for over twenty-five years, the subject of fear comes up almost daily. Just as I ask my clients to identify their concerns, I wonder if you’ve tried to isolate your fears regarding writing, publishing, or submitting? 

Many people are afraid they won’t be successful in their recovery; I wonder if you’re worried you won’t be successful as a writer? Here are some common fears and a few methods for overcoming them.


Fears Fuel the Procrastinating 


According to Laura Stack, “We all procrastinate sometimes, despite its negative impact on our productivity. The word “procrastinate” comes from the Latin roots pro (forward) and crastinus (belonging to tomorrow), which developed into ­procrastinat in English, meaning “deferred until tomorrow.” Perfect, right?

So why do we knowingly put important things off that we know we need to do? Many of us believe procrastination arises from laziness, and maybe that’s true sometimes. Maybe it’s mostly true for some people. But I believe the chief cause of procrastination is subconscious fear.”

Rather than let our subconscious rule us, let’s look at the six most common fears. 


1. Fear of Failure


I wrote a little tongue-in-cheek post titled, What if No One This? OMG, What If They Do! Comments let me know that the title alone sums up many writers’ misgivings when they hit the publish button.

While we want readers to view our post, we may have doubts about how well we wrote a piece, and if it's going to be received well by readers. Click To Tweet

Self-doubt fuels the “What Ifs,” and writers tend to obsess over:

Rather than face rejection, many put off writing for fear of failing. However, I know that if you want to write, you will.

Continuing to write, make and correct mistakes, and learning to revise and edit will make you a better writer, one that isn’t afraid to publish. Just think about this for a minute:

“Oddly, we never question the feasibility of a football team practicing long hours for one game, yet in writing, we rarely give ourselves the space for practice.” ~Natalie Goldberg: Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

Each time we write, if we are making an effort to improve the craft of writing, we will get better. So, rather than procrastinate, keep writing.


2. Fear of Success


Then there’s the other side of the coin. If we’d had one success, we can set up illusions of how each subsequent post should be.

  • What if they do read it and don’t leave comments this time?
  • Does this mean that every subsequent post has to be as well-received?
  • What if the following post doesn’t go viral?
  • Can the writing meet the expectations of the readers?
  • Is this writing as interesting, informative, or entertaining as the last?

While we generally think of one-hit wonders in the music field, some authors fit this category as well. I don’t think anyone likes the label, but many will live with the name rather than risk something that doesn’t measure up to an earlier post.


 3. Fear In Labeling Yourself a Writer or Author


  • How much does a real writer have to write?
  • Do you have to be published?
  • Do you have to make money writing? 

Not only does calling yourself a writer mean you’re going to have to write, but you might be concerned that you’ll look foolish to friends and family if you announce that you’re now a writer. After all, they’ve known you all your life as husband/wife, son/daughter, co-worker/boss, but never as a writer.

I’m still not entirely comfortable with labels. I tend to think of all the greats that preceded me, and I pale in comparison, but I can feel satisfied with statements like, “I write for two blogs,” or “I’m the editor-in-chief at Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate.

With the publication of my memoir, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate, I’m starting to feel more comfortable with the label. But I’m like others, if there’s no sales that day, am I really a writer or author?

Writer and author are daunting labels; they require commitment, determination, perseverance, and time. I have three of the qualities, but the time aspect still proves challenging. 

One thing that has helped me is that I committed to a specific number of posts for Two Drops of Ink and From Addict 2 Advocate. Those obligations help me retain focus and expectations. And I took the suggestion of a friend and am working on a second book about memoir writing. 


4. Afraid of Not Meeting Expectations


I also think that too many people set up unrealistic expectations of themselves and their writing. I cannot fall prey to excuses when I have a day off from my other responsibilities. Yes, it means I don’t socialize like I used to, watch a movie on TV, or even read as much, but it’s honoring a commitment, and that’s important to me.

Are you using what time you have and take advantage of the opportunities to write? I still block out time on my calendar for writing and publishing. There are specific calendars for writers that might do the trick and keep you on track. I know I tend to pay attention if I’ve marked my calendar for an activity, and it works for writing and publishing, too.


5. Afraid the Well’s Gone Dry?


Am I tired some days when I sit down to write? Yes. Do I question whether I can postpone this task and get to it later? Yes. Do I wish it would write itself? Yes.

How many times have you said, “I don’t feel like doing that now.” I think we’ve got this backward. I don’t have to feel like doing something to do it, and the notion of Writer’s Block seems like an excuse. It’s like using Counselor’s Block with my clients, so I question whether it’s valid for the creative process, either.

Maybe it’s just that we haven’t fully explored our idea, done enough research, we’ve got too many darlings vying for attention, or we can’t narrow our focus and produce a post. How many of you, like me, struggle with the direction of your writing? Last night, I had a long talk about my writing with my friend, Scott Biddulph. While many of my posts were satisfying to write, I questioned whether they added any value to our site. I wasn’t fishing for compliments, either, because I can certainly look at the numbers and recognize views. It was more an internal conflict:

  • What should I write about next?
  • When will I have the time to develop the topic?
  • What will improve our site?


6. Fear of Not Reaching the Goal


Writing and publishing shouldn’t just be about celebrating significant accomplishments. Sure, it’s fantastic if:

  • A post went viral
  • The first-time writer reaches 50,000 hits in a day
  • An unknown author ranks on The New York Times Best Seller’s list

Most of us aren’t that good, to begin with, nor do we have the kind of exposure necessary to be number one. But we can get followers if we keep improving. And those readers encourage us to publish more.

If you aspire to be the first, best, or only, then you may have unrealistic expectations and not publish. Click To Tweet

 I’m a firm believer in goals, asking questions to arrive at conclusions, and taking the variables into account. Sometimes when I get answers to the questions, I can get on with the business of writing. But for some writers, there’s an interesting thing that happens. 

We set up the perfect writing environment while the coffee is brewing. All of the animals are fed and napping. We’ve finally decided our topic. We look through all the files to see if we happen to have a great quote, image, or some interesting facts related to the topic.

Then we have to decide if we’ve got a title, or will it emerge from the writing? If you’re still reading, we’ve wasted about three minutes and only written filler. Too often, that first draft is not our best writing. So what do some people do? They trash it. Then they can feel inadequate.

Instead of finding the bones of the piece, they rearrange the furniture, make a project out of cleaning out the closet, take the animals out, drink more coffee, and wonder about yet another topic.



Forget the Pets and Projects, Work on Your Post!


I think some of the best advice I’ve read is from Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. She admonishes us with: “Don’t cross out. (That’s editing as you write. Even if you write something you didn’t mean to write, leave it.) Don’t worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar…Lose control. Don’t think. Don’t get logical. Go for the jugular. (If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.”

I have to sit at the desk and write. After I’ve written, and not crossed out, edited, or revised, I can sit back and feel a sense of accomplishment. Why? Not because it was the best writing, but because I didn’t put it off or give in to my fears. 

Certainly, if what I created that day doesn’t meet the publishing criteria, I don’t publish it but revise, edit, or polish it the next day. I still feel productive about what I created, though. Not every post is stellar, to begin with; some are going to take revising, editing, reworking, and sitting for a day or two. That’s the nature of writing.


Make Mistakes and Learn from Them


Getting better at any task takes practice, making mistakes, learning from them, trying not to repeat the errors, and a fierce desire to improve. It’s the same with writing.

The good news, though, is that unlike a missed pass in football, we have the luxury of the edit. Who cares that your syntax was wrong in your first draft, you overuse a word, or you got so far off track that no one could follow the logic. We writers can edit, and for me, that removes many of the fears.

So the next time you write, think of an edit as a way to overcome your fears, whatever they may be, and when you’re finished, submit. Part of our mission at Two Drops of Ink is to provide a platform for all things literary. Check out our monthly contributors on the home page and know that they overcame their fears, and you can, too.  

Maybe what’s missing from our site is your submission. Ready to stop procrastinating and give readers a new voice?



Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing





Bio: Marilyn L. Davis

marilyn l davis two drops of ink editor-in-chiefDavis is  Editor-in-Chief at, a literary blog, where she continues to encourage collaborative writing. The site’s writers are poets, problem-solvers for writers and bloggers, as well as those who educate, entertain, and enchant us with the written word. The writers represent different countries, viewpoints, and opinions from around the world.

Davis is a Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist who opened and operated an award-winning residential facility between 1990 and 2011; the facility was called North House. She recently celebrated 32 years of abstinence-based recovery.

Davis is the author of Therapeutic Integrated Educational Recovery System and Editor-in-chief of her blog,

She recently published her memoir, Finding North: A Journey from Addict to Advocate. Before Davis’ recovery, she was a desperate woman on drugs, managing bands at night, and giving up her children. A chance encounter with a 74-year old Native American named Gray Hawk showed her that healing would include meetings and steps, and would also provide a house of healing for other women.  This encounter with Gray Hawk helped her realize that opening North House was her purpose.

In 2008, Brenau University created the Marilyn Davis Community Service Learning Award, which honors individuals working in recovery and mental health. In 2010, Marilyn received the Liberty Bell award, given to non-judges and attorneys for contributions to the criminal justice system and communities.


Additional posts by Marilyn L. Davis








  1. Reblogged this on A Writing Life and commented:
    I’ve been working on a post re fear but this is much more extensive than I would have done! I do have another aspect to share: fear of recurring illness. I’ll keep working on that.

    • Hi, Joan. You should consider writing a post about how recurring illnesses can get in the way of writing. I know our readers would enjoy that.

      Thank you for the reblog. I appreciate that.

    • Hi, Tammy. Criticism does hurt, but sometimes it helps. I have to take into account that there are others who write better than I do and if they correct something I’ve written or are less than enthusiastic, I need to take their criticism and see if it has merit.

      I also realize that there are trolls – waiting in the wings to pounce and don’t offer helpful criticism, just their own snarky comments.

      I’ve finally learned to distinguish. Thank goodness. She smiles.

      Hope you’ve visit us again, and consider submitting. We’re a helpful and supportive community here at Two Drops of Ink.

  2. Hi Marilyn, I’ve read this post over 8 times now. Every time I do so I pick up another lesson. I love how you have included links to other posts for reference to magnify your point. I wanted to reassure you and make sure you understood how much value you truly give of yourself to all of us. I certainly am a happy student. So I ask you. Please never stop teaching. That would be a sad day for me. Your writing is powerful in my book as all the content is here. Here is another little secret. All the stuff you post through out the day. I hit my like button. That means I checked it and saved the link to read later in the evening when I’m home. I like it so you know your student is paying attention. I may not comment all the time, but I am a user and abuser of all your words for the good.

    • Hi, John. Thank you for being such a loyal reader. I do the same thing, I’ll read a post several times and usually come away with yet another perspective or lesson. Glad I’m not the only one. There is so much valuable information out there and I find has good information to share about my passions – addiction, creative writing and blogging, so it is a go to place for me each day and I’m pleased that some of those shares are helping you, too.

  3. Me: ABSOLUTELY I find value here!
    I am inspired by every word I read here.
    Having worked in my profession and ventures, in which I have been involved in and have accomplished. I know well enough to push through the uneasiness of how I feel because most of the time I don’t feel like it. I never feel like going to work, but I do because I like to eat. My strategy has always been finding those who are better than you and absorb all you can like a sponge. Right now, my sponge is soaked full of knowledge that I have gleaned from talent, right here!

    I devote one hour every morning to ME before my wife wakes. I use this time to put together all the clutter I have scribbled down to build my piece or use my time to tinker with my blog. It’s been a slow process. However, I manage to muddle through it because I know over time. I will complete what I set out to do. My small goals add up to progress over the long haul. Everything I start is always messy and hard, but to me, this is where the fun begins. It’s a challenge to see if I can do it. Personally, I’m not too worried about what others think of my writing. What I do know it will connect with somebody at some level. For me, the most important aspect of my writing is allowing people into my thoughts to share and inspire. Above all, I want my example to penetrate into my children’s thoughts to prove it can be done if you set your mind to it. Writing is my driving force for why I do it. I leave my words behind for all to see.
    So Thank you, Marilyn! JG

  4. Marilyn,
    Well, as editor, I get the first view of every article that we post because I’m the guy that crosses the “T’s” and dots the “I’s” of each post. That said, I knew this post would do well because it goes to the heart of every writer’s beginning, and to their ultimate success. I’ve always had a rule in my life (to coin a phrase), “Fake it till you make it.” If you are out there reading this post and you’ve never hit the “publish” button, or, you’ve never sent a submission off to a magazine, a journal, or to a blog like Two Drops, then do it – fake it till you make it. Marilyn hits on the most important aspect of successful writing in that she makes the point that we must have thick skin, and we have to try, at the very least.

    As an editor, I love what I do because I love to “dream the writer’s dream” and help new and seasoned writers alike to reach their goals. I think we have a close-knit and unique family of writers, readers, and contributors here, and I want to thank great writers like Marilyn for taking the “publishing plunge.” Great post, Marilyn. Love ya, me.

  5. I read Natalie’s book about 20 years ago. Maybe I need to go looking for my copy in the attic for some inspiration. I too work full-time and go through everything you talk about. Thanks for the wonderful article.

    • Hi, Jayne. Thank you for reading and commenting. I would encourage you to find it. Although Natalie’s book is not a new one, I think that mentioning some of the books that have helped me, might give writers an opportunity to review other authors. I’m also a fan of: Annie Dillard. The Writing Life, Anne Lamott. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, William Zinsser. On Writing Well: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction, William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, The Elements of Style.

      Writing is putting into words the landscape of the mind and emotions of the writer and I think all of us need three things to create pieces that translate from our minds to the readers.

      Books that teach structure – the story and the grammar, others that offer guidance on the more subtle nuances of telling truth, BIG truth and universal truths, then books that let us know we are not alone in this solitary pursuit.

      I hope that you’ll find some posts here that help you navigate the sometimes difficult choices we have to make when writing is not our full-time occupation. I think that’s just one of the reasons that I’m never without a notebook – old fashioned as that may seem to some. I can at least jot down five or six words to help me remember an incident, idea, or that most fleeting of all, inspiration, even at work.

      I’ll plug again. We are always looking for guest posts, if you ever want to submit.

  6. Hi, Chuck. I’m happy that my posts are giving you the encouragement to keep writing. I know it takes a deep breath, a firm resolve, tapping into our determination and then. . .we hit the publish button. And you have resolve, determination and ability, Chuck. I think about your experiences as a PJ and I’m awed.

    It’s rather like my mentor told me when I told him I wasn’t sure I could change in my early recovery. He reminded me that I changed my clothes, radio station in the car, and mind on a daily basis. Now I just had to apply change to my recovery. I got it.

    Now, when can we expect another memoir piece from you, friend? She smiles.

  7. Hello Marilyn, I really enjoyed this post, and I am sure your editor friend was able to assure you that your posts DO add value to this site.

    You have picked up on a lot of my fears and I can say that for me, it’s one thing writing for readers of my own blogs but a completely different thing writing for writers, whether aspiring, professional or published. I don’t know why, it feels as if I would be taking on the mantle of an expert when I most definitely am not. I’d love to get my writing out to a wider audience but my own perfectionism holds me back.

    I have tried to write and not edit at the same time but have not been successful to date, although sometimes I manage it when I am doing a practice session in my journal.

    The fact that you work a 50hr week and write a few articles as well, astounds and inspires me. For years I yearned to be a writer but did very little of it. Now I have my blogs I write more than I used to in days past. I want to find the courage, time and motivation to move beyond this, and perhaps even submit here and I do want to be able to submit articles elsewhere regularly and not just as a one-trick pony!

    • Hi, ladycee. I don’t think we have to be an “expert” if we are writing about writing. If that were the case, I probably wouldn’t publish anything. I believe that one of the reasons my posts resonate is that I don’t try to be an expert but write about my experiences as a “working writer”. I hope that is how the posts come across, simply my perspective. Sure, I may link back and validate a theory, but I sincerely hope that they are never condescending, preachy or trying to sound like the authority. (I generally quote the authorities though.)

      As a site, Two Drops of Ink is more than just writing about writing. Have you seen our Wall of Poets? Or we have several challenges that were either generated by an image (some memoir, others fiction), or the latest was from a poll where our readers voted and memoir and image prompt tied so we combined them for an image prompting memoir.

      I would hope that you submit to us. Scott is a dedicated and caring editor. I love to find the images and quotes if the writer wants, and you’ll get extra exposure for your site. How’s that for promotion and encouragement?

      • I like, the way you sound. I read your blog quite often. I have never thought you sounded preachy or condescending. I enjoy your topics about writing and love to read the memoirs. I work a lot as well and don’t find enough time to write. I like your ideas about posting once a week and using a calendar to set those goals.Thank you, for all your tips!

        P.s I also dig a blog that links to other post, full of knowledge. It’s like I’m on a treasure hunt!

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