Writing advice isn’t always easy to give … or receive. Writing, as a process; it has a lot of steps. Every day is different. No writing session is quite like the next. You might have sat down and written 4,000 words yesterday because you could, but today, you can barely crank out 400.
This can make things confusing. Overwhelming, too, when you’re searching for writing tips.
One day you’re told to write a lot. The next day you’re screamed at to slow down – what’s the rush?
Patience. That is one writing struggle we all (probably) share.
Writing can take a long time. And when we want to write something good, taking our time isn’t just a recommendation. It’s necessary.
But it takes a long time. We just want it done. We just want to finish already, and move on to the next big thing. Patience is the absolute last thing we want to hear when we’re trying to figure out how to make it through the hardest parts of the writing process.
What’s the point of being patient? Why not just give up instead?
You CAN do this. You DON’T have to quit. Here’s how to take your time without losing your patience.
Take it week by week
Remember, the key to meeting your writing goals is giving them a time frame. But saying, “I want to write a book this year” isn’t very helpful. Actually, not breaking down your big goal into smaller ones is basically setting yourself up for failure before you even start.
By meeting weekly goals, you’re setting yourself up for small, consistent bursts of satisfaction and re-energization (it’s a word, now). Looking ahead in the long-term isn’t easy for anyone, but the short-term, we can handle.
Keep one foot in the present and one in the future
Focus simultaneously on where you want to be in a certain amount of time as well as what you’re doing right now to get there, even slowly. Keeping your mind on both of these things at once helps motivate you to keep writing, even when you don’t feel like it. Even when it feels like it’s taking forever, or you’re not quite where you want to be yet.
You also don’t have three feet. There’s only so much room for looking back at what you’ve already done. It’s still an important step, but do your best to keep yourself equally balanced between the other two.
Focus on what you’ve already accomplished
Measuring progress is, unfortunately, a lot about comparing the now to the past. If you’re not careful, this process can really discourage you and make it hard to continue being patient with yourself. There’s a way to look back on what you’ve already done without burning yourself out.
Spend the first five to 10 minutes of your writing/editing time skimming through what you’ve already managed to write or edit in the past few days, the past week, so on. Give yourself that time to reflect. Then spend the rest of your time moving forward. It’s the small sparks of motivation that keep us going, and sometimes, only you can provide those for yourself.
Take a deep breath. Be patient. You will finish. It might seem like you should have been done by now, but how do you know? You’ve never worked on this particular project before. No piece of writing is the same. Neither is the process it takes to get from beginning to end.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.