Canada Writes·Writing Tip

Feeling a creative block? Strive for progress over perfectionism

The 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize is now open. To inspire and support you along the way, CBC Books is publishing a writing tip each week.
Perfectionism can block your creative flow. (Tom Wang/Shutterstock)

The 2020 CBC Nonfiction Prize is open for submissions. You can submit your original, unpublished writing up to 2,000 words for a chance to win $6,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and have your work published on CBC Books. The deadline to enter is Feb. 29, 2020.

To inspire and support you along the way, we are publishing a writing tip each week on CBC Books. You can also subscribe to our writing tips newsletter for even more tips.

This week's tip is from 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize finalist Emily Stillwell.

"My best advice is to set aside the idea of perfection. Expecting perfection is a creativity killer. Whenever I've experienced writer's block it has stemmed from a fear of my writing not being good enough. When anxiety blocks my creativity, I meditate and acknowledge that perfection is unattainable. I allow myself the space to create without expectation. 

When you feel stuck, just write.- Emily Stillwell

"When you feel stuck, just write. Anything. Even stepping away from your work in progress to write a poem or a character sketch or background story. Giving your brain the freedom to create without restraint is essential."

Emily Stillwell is a Toronto-based writer whose Maritime roots continue to draw her back to the water's edge. The professional librarian left Toronto for Bermuda in 2017 to follow her heart. It was there she warmed to writing professionally but soon discovered she's better suited to colder climes. Now back in Toronto, she is immersed in writing her first novel. Her story The Birthday Party made the 2019 CBC Nonfiction Prize shortlist.


 

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