We all have aspirations — things we want to accomplish someday, that we plan on making a priority at some point or another. It can be frustrating, looking at your life and realizing you aren’t where you wanted to be yet. What happened? You had it all figured out — and then it all fell apart somehow.
Are you lazy? Not meant to be a writer after all? Absolutely not. You’re not lazy, and if writing is something you want to do, you’re meant to do it in some capacity. Here are a few real reasons why you might be, in your own eyes, falling behind schedule.
You’re not making, or meeting, smaller goals
I know goal setting as a concept isn’t everyone’s “thing.” But technically, we all have goals. If you want to be a writer someday, that’s technically a goal. It’s just a very big, very vague goal. Maybe the problem isn’t that you can’t stay on task or get done what you want to get done. Maybe it’s that you’re not setting the kinds of goals that could motivate you to make more progress.
Setting specific, achievable goals is essential. Of course, for many writers, it’s easier said than done. I am a self-motivator — I don’t need anyone else to tell me to do something or encourage me to continue, I just do it. Most people aren’t like that. You might need external accountability — someone or something to prompt you to do stuff gosh darn it. Apps, a special friend — whatever works. Set goals, keep working toward them — no more excuses!
You’re not challenging yourself enough
All good writers challenge themselves regularly. It’s great to repeat something a thousand times until you get really good at it, but at what point does your skill level plateau? If you don’t challenge yourself in some way, you aren’t going to reach your goals.
If you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again for awhile — even if you feel content with it — it might be time to switch things up a little. Do something that’s hard. That’s the best way to improve, and the better you become at something, the greater your chances of creating a successful career out of that thing.
You’re expecting too much too soon
Patience. It’s that word no one wants to hear but everyone needs to pay attention to. Because here’s the deal: whatever you’re trying to accomplish as a writer, it’s going to take a long time. Probably way longer than you’re expecting. It takes years to grow a blog, write a book, establish yourself as an authority somewhere. If you haven’t gotten to wherever “finish” is for you, it might be because you think you should be there already, even though you’re not even close.
Writing success is not a race. Your timeline is not definite. Just because so-and-so published a whatever when they were some age does not mean you’re failing if you haven’t beaten them. You will do your best writing only at your own pace. Granted, if you’re writing a sentence a day, your pace is a little sluggish. But in the grand scheme of things, when you accomplish something doesn’t matter. It’s how you do it, how well you do it, and how passionate you are about it that counts.
It’s not your time
I don’t believe anyone should wait for things to happen to them. Especially when it comes to their careers. You can’t sit around and wait for someone to notice you or compliment your work or offer you a job. Writers who “make it” put in a lot of time and effort even after they earn their success. If you aren’t actively pursuing what you want, it’s not going to happen.
But you also have to remember that everyone gets their chance. It just usually doesn’t come when you want it to. It always shows up when you least expect it. If you’re not where you want to be yet, it could honestly just be because it’s not your time, your turn, your moment … yet.
That’s not to say you can’t work, can’t hope, can’t try. It just means that hard work with very small payoffs does not last forever. There comes this moment when you realize you’ve pushed yourself to your limit, you can’t imagine enduring one more day of this, you just don’t think it’s worth it anymore. And that’s often when the good stuff happens — right when you start to believe it never will.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.