Sometimes, after writing consistently for awhile, you get a little … lazy.
This can happen for a number of reasons. Maybe you’ve stumbled into some success recently, big or small, and the urge to just “keep doing what you’re doing” takes over. Perhaps you feel like you’ve tried everything, yet nothing has seemed to grant you the level of writing success you’re after.
You might even feel trapped, trying to do a thousand things at once, none of them well — and taking shortcuts wherever you can, even in your writing, simply takes some of the stress off your shoulders.
We don’t get lazy because we’re lazy people. We get lazy because we fall into routines, and forget to seek out challenges, and fall behind in the game.
It happens — especially when there isn’t anyone pushing us to deviate from the norm.
If you want to grow as a writer, you need someone who will push you farther, challenge you more often, and force you to look back before you can move forward.
It’s not easy to find people like this — people who will willingly take the time to track your progress and help you grow. I’m very fortunate, as a staff writer, to be in a position beneath an editor whose job it is to help us set and achieve new goals from week to week. Many writers, especially those who aren’t working in the field yet, don’t have opportunities like that.
The best solution — other than keep writing and publishing, because you never know what could happen — is to act as your own cheerleader.
I know that sounds silly, but tell me — what’s wrong with encouraging yourself to reach new heights, to try new things — to achieve things beyond what you once believed you ever could? You’re not eternally doomed if there isn’t anyone around to push you. You just have to be the kind of person you wish you had, until someone comes along to fill that space.
If you have to use performance metrics as crutches, to help you keep track of where you’ve been and plan for where you want to go, then that’s your strategy and you can make it work. If you have to keep a file folder full of rejections, do it. If you have to stand in front of the bathroom mirror and talk yourself into working on your book until you can’t stand to look at yourself anymore, what’s stopping you?
Sometimes, we’re all we have to lean on. This isn’t to say you’ll never find a support system. But until you do, you have to make do with what’s within reach. If you don’t, you’ll just keep doing the same things over and over again — because it’s easy, it takes less time, and it’s comfortable.
The key to writing success is growth. The key to growth is pushing past your perceived limitations. If there isn’t someone in your life who can do that, be that person. Strive to do better today than you did yesterday. Take risks. Try things you’ve never done. Look back — but only so you can become better than you’ve ever been before.
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.