Writing can be scary. We pour our heart and soul into a piece, so it’s only natural we want to protect it for as long as possible and delay putting it out into the world for all to see.
However, there are some habits we use to keep us feeling productive – but also serve as a stalling method to keep our writing ‘safe’ and near us. Take a read and see if any of these make you wince in recognition!
The first habit is to avoid writing altogether. We have a desire to write, but stay safe by telling ourselves we have no time/energy/freedom etc. Another way this shows up is in the belief we're waiting for our creativity to spark or come to us. Break this habit by scheduling in a regular block of time for your writing, even if it’s only 20 minutes a day.
This is fine IF you really want to write for others – otherwise, it’s all about taking a half step down our dream path. We know we want to write our own stuff, but we’re not quite brave enough, so we opt to write other people’s copy instead, therefore getting the praise and reassurance about our writing from those clients. Break this habit by getting clear on your big why and scheduling your own writing in, as if it’s another client you have to meet a deadline for.
Another way of playing it safe is to avoid the deepest writing desire and opting for a lighter or easier one instead. Stop limiting yourself and get on with what really floats your boat.
This is better, as you’re writing your own material, but hiding it away is a ‘no-no’. The fact is, you’ll NEVER feel totally ready to publish – so just take a deep breath and go for it.
Do I sense another excuse? Finding writing time is all about getting disciplined and building in a regular slot into your day. Start telling yourself it’s easy to do and you may just realise it is!
Yes, stories do need a plan and the odd rearranging, but if you’re doing this on a regular basis for the same story, either plan more before you start writing or grit your teeth and finish the first draft – then you can see if it REALLY needs reorganising.
Obviously, all work needs a certain amount of editing – but how many times have you now edited the same piece? If you worry about your editing and/or know you’re stalling that next step of publication, pass it to someone else to edit – removing the worry altogether.
If you’re over halfway – grit your teeth and keep writing. All writers, whether novice or seasoned, reach a point where they think their work is utter rubbish (Stephen King is well-known for this). Write the first draft, then either pass it to someone else to check out or have a read-through yourself, before you make any drastic decisions.
This can serve a purpose – it gets your work out there for others to look at – but it’s only good IF they’re your ideal target audience, otherwise it’s wasted time. Would you give a young adult book to your parents to read? Would you give a Martina Cole novel to a young teen? Get yourself a couple of beta readers who ARE in your target market, to be your pre-publication reader/reviewers.
At its core, all of these habits are there to protect us in some way. Our job, if we want to get writing rather than avoiding, is to learn how to feel safe with getting vulnerable (you can read more about vulnerability in writing, here) and recognising these habits for what they are - excuses that show we have fears around our writing - and resolving to face them head-on.
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