When I got into the writing scene, I quickly discovered that most people who have a dream to write are struggling to make their books and stories happen. I didn’t want to end up in that camp, but the funny thing about trying a new career that is 100% self-motivated, that you didn’t go through training for, where no one is waiting on you for results, and that doesn’t pay you yet …well, you probably already know what the funny thing is.
Over time, you stop feeling like it.
Every time you sit down to write, the need to deal with “real” pressures chokes out the words. People who are waiting on you for something, necessary tasks, “real work”. And don’t even get me started on the discouragement when you realize you can’t sit down an write a gorgeous first draft!!
What’s crazy, is that this nearly impossible feat of convincing ourselves to create something out of nothing instead of answering to a boss’s need for productivity is the DREAM for people like me. Yet, many of us give up. Because when we sit down to accomplish that dream, we suddenly find ourselves exhausted, uninspired, and dried up. We can’t think of a single word.
What’s different about a normal job where we HAVE to get things done?
When I saw clients, I was motivated to show up and do my job because they were going to be at my office door at a certain time, expecting a service from me.
With writing, I have to convince myself that someone needs what I’ll say in a book like… months from now. Or that what I share through a blog like this matters and won’t be an embarrassing reminder of failure down the road.
That’s why goals need to be translated into the same bite sized requirements and expectations that would get you out of bed for a job every day.
If you had a job that you weren’t motivated to do, you might think, “I have to show the boss I’m working today or he’ll give me more crap to do!” And even if you come in to the job as a perfectionist, having to work with others and depend on them for what you need to move on will cure it. Rapidly.
So apply a similar circumstance to your writing, and see what you get.
Don’t think too big, don’t try to write for 8 hours a day. Find someone to keep you on track, who you need to convince that you are working, even if it’s a very simple expectation. Get a mentor or coach who will check in. [My experience: if you aren’t paying them, it may not be enough to progress through tough spots, so I recommend a coach.]
An average day for me used to look like:
- Wake up and desperately wish that I could slip into my writing world and create a masterpiece.
- Spend all of my energy doing other things because I couldn’t think of how to start.
- At some point, sit down with my computer to write.
- Feel like I’m not a real writer because it doesn’t flow perfectly, research some random thing, quit.
But in order to get this book going and answer to my assignments with my coach, I have had to really tweak my approach to the day.
For the past two weeks or so, I’ve been trying out Donald Miller’s Storyline Productivity Schedule and it has been helping tremendously. Especially because I have to work mostly at home right now since I’m doing a sticky note organization system on the wall (which will help me move pieces of the book around like a puzzle until it’s right). So this is my current ideal work schedule:
- Wake up, take a little time to get focused for the day.
- Start my first project as early as possible.
- Take a short rest, give my brain a break and a reward.
- Gear back up for whatever my second project is.
Does it always end up looking like that? No. Am I getting something done every day with this expectation? YES!
When I don’t feel like it, I remember that in a couple weeks I’ll be due to tell my coach whether I hit the goals we set up, which are always totally achievable, and I realize that I could “not feel like it” or face the intimidation of perfection every day for the rest of my life!
I think about how I would honor an employer with my hard work no matter what I felt like.
Your dream and your vision deserve the same hard work and dedication that working for someone else would get out of you.
So don’t wait until you feel like it or until you can perfect it, because the feelings may not come until after you see some fruit from your work, and even then, they won’t last forever. In the end, you’ll have a book with YOUR name on it, and there’s a price to pay on the way there. Ask yourself, is bringing someone else’s vision to life enough, or am I ready to create?
Have a productive day!