Overcoming Perfectionism: How to Use Your Writing Process to Finish that Draft

Instructor: Michelle Niemann
Date: Sunday, December 2  -New Date!
Time: 1-4 PM
Location: IWC
Cost: $75 Nonmembers, $48 members, $42 student members/teacher members/senior members/military members/librarian members 

Does perfectionism slow your writing down? Do you find yourself tweaking the same paragraph or section over and over—and then discovering that in fact you need to jettison it entirely? Do you have a draft of an essay, memoir, or novel that you’ve worked and reworked so much that you don’t know how to tell when it’s finished?

In this one-session class, we’ll discuss and try out some concrete strategies for breaking out of the perfectionistic habits that often bog us down. The writing process is always messy, iterative, and recursive—this class doesn’t offer any false shortcuts. Instead, we’ll develop practices that draw on the messiness of the process itself to finally complete that draft.

While I’ll share what I’ve learned from years of working with writers one-on-one, these practices and strategies must be tailored to the individual writer’s process. So, as a participant, you’ll be asked to share what you love and hate about your writing process—and to bring at least part of that recalcitrant draft so that you can experiment with it during our class.


Michelle Niemann discovered her love for consulting with writers one-on-one about their work in progress while teaching in the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin, where she was a graduate student. After earning her PhD in English literature in 2014, for two years Michelle served as a postdoc at UCLA, where she co-edited The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities (2017) with Ursula K. Heise and Jon Christensen. Having grown up in Fort Wayne, she moved to Indy in 2016 and now works with scholars and writers as an independent writing consultant and editor. 

Michelle’s poems have appeared in RHINO, After Hours, and Cannot Exist, and she has been awarded writing residencies at Ragdale, Ucross, and Caldera for creative prose work. Her scholarly articles have been published in Victorian Poetry, the Journal of Modern Literature, and Modernism/modernity.


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