Have you been ignoring your work in progress for the last few weeks for any number of really good reasons? I’m here to tell you that you are not alone; but it’s time to suck it up, buttercup, and get the work done. And while I’m focusing on writers here, this is also true for anyone in the arts who has a dream.
It’s the end of April, and the first quarter of the year is over. Hey, writer. Yeah, you. How are you doing on that latest book of yours? Are you writing at all, or have you burned out? Where are you in your goals that you set up in January? In other words (here’s that dreaded question), how’s the writing going? Or is it going at all?
You are what you consistently do. If you want to call yourself a writer, then look to what you do every day. If writing isn’t on that list, then maybe you aren’t a writer.
Before you get mad or defensive, take a good hard look at your schedule. If you say you don’t have time to write, then take note of how much TV you watch, how many hours you tend to family members by doing things they can do themselves, or how many hours of Candy Crush Saga or Farmville or Bejeweled that you play in a single day. If you turn even half that time into writing time, then not only can you call yourself a writer, but you may actually finish that book that’s been lurking on your hard drive, taunting you. Once you finish it, you can edit it. Once it’s edited, you can submit it (or begin the self-publishing process). Rinse and repeat.
The truth is, those who want to write, write. There is no other answer. So if you aren’t writing, the only person you have to look to for answers is yourself. Why? What’s holding you back?
For many people, it’s doubt. Doubt that you can be any good as a writer. Doubt that anyone will want to read what you write. Doubt that success on any scale is possible for you. But you know what? If you don’t write, then success as a writer ISN’T possible because you don’t have a product for people to read. SLAY THE DOUBT DRAGON. He’s not your friend. The only way to do that? Sit your ass down and write. Every day. No matter what, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes.
For others, it’s stress. You’re worried that your next book won’t measure up to your last book. Or that your editor won’t give you the next three-book contract. Or maybe, it’s been ten years and you haven’t made your first sale yet and you don’t know how much more energy you can put into a career that doesn’t seem to be paying you back either emotionally or monetarily. What then?
Take a break.
Sometimes, a break from writing is just as important as a break from your Day Job. Instead of feeling guilty that you aren’t writing, which can make you resentful, give yourself a day or two off each week. If you haven’t set writing goals (okay, I’ll write for the next fifteen minutes or, I just need a hundred words today), then try that, too. But most of all, be good to yourself.
The writing life is one of discipline. Without it, your books won’t get written and therefore, your words can’t inspire others. If you have the guts to be disciplined about your writing, then you’ll get the work done.
The writing life is one of bravery. You’ve finished the book, edited it, and now comes the time to send it out into the world. Whether it’s a publisher or a contest or putting it up Amazon by yourself, getting your book out there for others to read and judge is an act of bravery, no matter which way you look at it.
The writing life is yours to claim. There’s no secret handshake, no formula, no Blue Light Special at K-Mart that will show you the way. The only thing you need in order to be a writer is to write. Write consistently. Write diligently. Write bravely.
So. What’s your TODAY goal for your writing/creative endeavor? I’d love to know! (Mine is getting 500 words done before my head hits the pillow tonight.)
This article was first published in the Los Angeles Romance Authors monthly newsletter, the LARA CONFIDENTIAL, in August of 2013.
Good kick in the pants, lady! I’ve got two more books to write this year, but I’m taking this week off to do other stuff.
I really liked your first quote about “we are what we consistently do.” That applies to whining, too. No one wants to be a consistent whiner, right? (off point, but worth mentioning for any negative habit).
Go you on all of your projects, and your great blogs, too.
LOL Lynne! I’ve got two books to write this year, too – hopefully more, but at least two. I’m finding just putting that timer on and writing is the best thing I can do. Go YOU on your books!
Yep, you are so right. And it always feels wonderful to have written. : ) I’m knee deep in something now, and it was a long time coming. It’s such a good feeling to be back in the saddle, words whipping around in my head as I trot along.
Right? Writing after editing is so wonderful, once you can get down into it. Enjoy, Roben!
Heck yes!! I’ve finished my query letter, started putting together a website and I’m preparing to start submitting! I’m both nervous and excited about the starting my second book, and this blog is wonderful motivation to get my butt into gear. 🙂
YAY! Absolutely start that second book now, while you’re still on a book high from finishing the last one, Alicia. Hugs hon!
I’m a big fan of the “break it down into baby steps” tactic. “Write a novel” sounds like a lot of work. “Write 1,000 words per day for 60 days” sounds so much more doable. (Not that I always succeed in doing it, but it sounds doable)!
Breaking down any goal is a huge part of finishing that goal, Sam, I totally agree.
This is a fantastic reminder. With my two upcoming releases, my current project has fallen by the wayside a bit. I’m still working on it, but not with the same laser focus I have with the last two books.
I’m going to start on that.. right after I respond to this, check my facebook, do the laundry, make dinner… heheh. 🙂
I’m right there with you! Procrastination expert, that’s me, Michelle!
EXACTLY what I need to read today. I’m telling myself that it’s the solar eclipse making me feel like I’ve been run over by a truck — but honestly, how much energy does it take to sit down and open the document on my computer? If I can read your excellent blog, I can do a little writing. Thanks, Christine.
Also, I blush to admit that at least 35% of what I do for my kids they can do for themselves. Busted!
Aw, thanks, Harley, and welcome to the blog! I’ve been a fan of yours since your early acting days, and now of course of your writing. Love to have you here! And yeah, it’s too easy for us to fall into the habit of doing everything for everyone, while neglecting ourselves. Hang in there and open that document, lol! hugs!
Sheepishly heading to my desk….
LOL, Tari! Hugs hon!