Do you want to be a writer – or do you write?
What’s the difference?
You know how powerful your word choice is. So think about it. Do you dream of becoming a writer, or are you currently, this very moment, working on a writing project that will help you reach a specific goal?
It is not enough to aspire to see your dreams become reality. You must act. You have to DO something if you want something to happen.
This is how to actively pursue your writing goals, one word at a time.
Break down your barriers to productivity
The most common reason writers do not write efficiently, or at all, is because of their inability to tune out distractions. This goes beyond “Facebook does not help you write.” You do not need to do in-depth research on a topic for your book right now, unless you have specifically blocked out this time in advance only for research directly related to your book.
There are other, less obvious reasons for not writing too: issues with confidence. Imposter syndrome. Dependence on excuses. For some people, mental health or physical health issues are actually huge factors that prevent even the most driven creatives from starting and completing writing projects.
Whatever your barriers are, only you can break them down and get back to writing. Solutions can range anywhere from using apps like Cold Turkey to block specific websites during work hours to meeting with a mental health professional to discuss mechanisms for dealing with everyday setbacks.
You can’t just wait around expecting things to change without taking steps to changing them yourself. It’s all on you. But everything changes once you not only figure out what it is that’s stopping you from writing, but actively begin applying solutions to keep those roadblocks from standing in your way.
Change the way you talk about your writing goals
Instead of saying, “I hope to be a writer someday,” focus on talking about what you’re currently working on – while you’re actually working on it.
“I’m currently writing posts for a blog I plan to launch at the end of the month.”
There is, first of all, a social accountability component to this. You’re much more likely to actually click away from Facebook, where you’ve posted all about your current project, and actually work on it, since you don’t want people to assume you’re all talk and no write. GUILT IS POWER.
Secondly, goals have to be specific. And actionable. SMART. “Be a writer someday” is not a goal. It’s a dream. Dreams are fantasies. Goals, when actions are applied consistently, can be achieved. You can and will launch that blog if you talk like someone who’s in the process of doing something instead of someone who is thinking about doing something.
Know the difference between motivation and inspiration
There will be times when you feel inspired to create, yet don’t have the motivation to write anything. This is because the two concepts are not synonymous. Inspiration is the feeling that you have an idea you want to pursue further, while motivation is the drive to actually sit down and pursue an idea.
Knowing the difference is a major key to making your way toward success as a writer. After years of writing, I know what kinds of things inspire me, and I know what to do when I have an idea but can’t start on it right away. I also know when throughout the day, week and month I tend to feel the most motivated to work on side projects. This helps me create my own personal workflow schedule that allows me to get things done when I’m ready to work, and take it easy when I’m not.
It’s a misconception that if you want to be a writer, you have to write every day. You only have to write consistently. If you know Fridays are your least busy days, and you usually feel highly motivated on these days, you can designate Friday as the one day of the week you write a blog post, or work on your novel, or whatever kind of writing it is you’re doing.
All that really matters is that you are writing when you say you are going to, no matter what.
If you do not write, then you are not a writer. Talking about all the things you’re going to write does not make you a writer. Gushing about how inspired you feel to start a new project does not guarantee that you are going to succeed in the fast-paced, unpredictable thrill ride that is the writing life.
Yes, there are legitimate excuses for writers who are struggling, especially if they are legitimate to you in your own mind. But you have two choices: you can either let these things continue to separate you from this thing you love to do, or you can take small steps to begin making your way back to it – even if it’s hard. Even when no one else seems to understand how important this writing thing is to you, in your life.
Creating goals and meeting milestones are very different things. The only way to meet a writing goal of any kind is to write. And whatever motivates you to get that writing done, whatever convinces you that acting on your inspiration is worth the time and effort, do it; use it; make it count.
This is the way of the writer: the actions you take build the foundation of your future as a professional creator. It’s not about what you hope will happen, but what will happen, if you stick with it long enough, if you work hard enough, if you earn this by actively deciding never to quit.
So, are you willing to work? Are you ready to make writing happen – for real?
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.