Every once in awhile, I find myself so unfocused and preoccupied that I’m forced to physically remove myself from my office.
This is, seemingly, a counter-productive thing to do. I am a writer, in the sense that a company pays me to sit in a chair and make words happen 40 hours per week.
I call these Bad Focus Days. There are probably a dozen reasons why they happen, and trust me, I’m not the only one who struggles with them.
One of those reasons, as you can probably guess by now, is that I’m worried. About my future as a person who creates things on the internet in exchange for food and shelter and access to Black Mirror, etc.
Where do I hope to be five years from now? Am I on the right track? Is my blog dying? Am I going to have to start writing about the Kardashians so I won’t go hungry? Are they even still relevant?
I think writers worry too much about where they aren’t.
That makes it really easy to forget about where you ARE.
Do you need to think ahead, make some plans, set some goals? Yeah. But if you’re too worried about these plans and goals to focus on your current projects, you’re doing it wrong.
As important as it may be to set aside time for planning, it’s even more important to make time for actually writing. Your plans won’t come to fruition if you don’t actually get around to doing the work necessary to move forward in your career or hobby or wherever writing fits into your life.
Will you become a published author someday? Maybe. But not today. First, you need to write, rewrite, and polish a book good enough to even be considered worthy of publishing on a large scale.
Will you get promoted to an editorial position? Eventually, probably. But not yet.
Will you be able to write full-time, on your own terms? It’s likely. Months, maybe even years from now.
I feel fairly confident in saying reaching your goals requires putting about 10 percent of your effort into planning and 90 percent into actually doing the writing thing or editing thing or social media thing or whatever your focus needs to be to get to your next level.
Maybe your ratios are a little different, depending on your skill level and your amount of experience. Or your specific goals.
But you get the point. You can’t spend all your effort stressing about things that have not happened yet. Instead … well. Stress about what’s happening right now. Because let’s be honest, you can’t be a writer without accepting the stress that comes along with it. It’s not that writing isn’t awesome. It’s just that, well, creating is hard, man.
Today is today. What are you going to write?
Don’t think about what that piece of writing might look like a week, a month, a year from now.
Just write. Here, now, in this moment. Spend your energy wisely. Enjoy the benefits in time.
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 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.