Why You Shouldn’t ‘Go All In’ When Starting a New Writing Project

Does this go against the advice you’ve come to expect? Good.

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The excitement you feel when you’re first starting to work on a new book, blog, or series of articles is addicting. But if you’re the kind of person who starts things but abandons them within a few months of hard work, not all hope is lost.

Here’s an unpopular slice of advice: When you’re starting a new writing project, put the least amount of effort into it as possible for the first month or so.

Seriously.

I know, I know. This goes against everything every productivity guru and writing expert has told you about rising, grinding, and keeping your head down until you make something good.

Yes, you need to be consistent — especially in the beginning.

True, you need to build a backlog of content, get a significant start on the rising action of your story, give prospective readers something to grab onto.

But even though it might seem like the best blogs, books, and similar projects spring up overnight and immediately gain traction, that’s not actually how things work.

For all you know, that blogger that just started posting last month spent the six previous ones scheduling out enough content to kickstart her site without anyone knowing.

She got excited about a new idea. But she also took her time to plan ahead and wrote posts slowly, one at a time, so she didn’t burn through her excitement until there was nothing left to keep her moving forward.

The main downside to diving headfirst into something new and hyper-producing content right away is that if you go too hard too fast, you’re going to burn out.

And I don’t just mean you’re going to end your days feeling tired, allow yourself a good night’s sleep, and pick back up right where you left off yesterday.

I mean you’re going to hit a wall. You’re going to have a really hard time getting back up. And once the excitement wears off and exhaustion kicks in, you’re much more likely to not even bother jumping back in.

Take it from someone who is prone to starting new things before thinking through how much work it’s actually going to take to not only get them off the ground, but also keep them in the air for an extended period of time.

Don’t write 20 blog posts in one week only to realize the only reason you wanted to start a blog was to get comments and likes on your posts.

Don’t write 50,000 words in one month before deciding the story isn’t worth finishing.

You’re excited. You want to capitalize on that motivation while it’s bright and hot and propelling you forward. But don’t spend all of it at once. Content creation, regardless of the type, should be a slow burn. Use your motivation to plan, to strategize, to ease in slowly.

If it’s something that truly matters to you — if it’s really meant to be — you’ll stick with it long after the initial appeal has worn off.

Pace yourself. Don’t start sprinting before you’ve even crossed the starting line. I know you’re impatient. But one of the greatest lessons a writer can learn is that not everything has to happen right now. Some of the best ideas unfold when you let them do so slowly over 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.


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10 thoughts on “Why You Shouldn’t ‘Go All In’ When Starting a New Writing Project

  1. So true – go too fast, you’ll burn out. I have so many stories I’m burned out on because I flew through them for the first ten chapters, then got bored. One of my biggest hurdles is making myself slow down.

    1. SAME. But the same thing happened to me when I started running long-distance. I’d sprint the first few miles then could barely finish the rest. Over time you learn that pacing yourself (in writing and elsewhere) benefits you in the long run (pun?), always.

  2. I think it’s so easy to think that “because I love writing, it should be effortless,” when the truth is many fun things still take energy. A person may love to hike or swim, but they can’t do it indefinitely. Recently I found myself repeatedly saying “I need a win,” and what I was really saying was “I’ve invested so much into writing, and haven’t seen any kind of positive response, and I’m getting worn down.” There are definitely times where we need a break, not only because we’re tired, but because we “need a win”, and writing is unreliable.
    And now I have an idea for a blog post on that. Thank you!

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