Breaks and rest days are important, but sometimes you don’t have the option of “not writing. The show must go on.
1 It’s OK to not be OK — but technically you can still write when you’re not OK.
2. The things that are bothering you will still be there when you are done with your work. But once you’re done with your work, you will be free (and hopefully guilt free) to do whatever you want and need to do to deal with those things.
3. Even writing that’s considered “work” can be therapeutic. Just because it isn’t fiction doesn’t mean it can’t help you stay grounded for a little while.
4. It’s OK to admit that you are struggling. If you can, reach out for help.
Continue reading “12 Things to Tell Yourself When You Need to Write On a Bad Mental Health Day”
Not all your ideas are as terrible as you might think.
Real talk. Sometimes, you come up with some pretty terrible ideas.
Sometimes. But not always.
It’s not uncommon to struggle with your own perceptions of your ideas, however. Not only are we ultimately our own worst critics, but it is also very easy to find ourselves “stuck” in one idea with no presumable way of seeing out or around it.
When you’re trying to come up with an idea you feel confident about, how do you measure what a “good” idea looks like? Answers to this question will vary depending on the individual. But in general, good ideas tend to be things we are excited about, things that interest us, things we can think and plan and work through.
If everyone’s definition of a “good” idea is different, then how do you know if your “bad” ideas are a fault of your own ability — or something else?
Continue reading “In Case You Didn’t Know: Your Ideas Are Not Trash (And Neither Are You)”
it hurts. But it is the way of things, after all.
I don’t think there is a writer in this world who particularly enjoys being rejected.
There are some who seek it out, who make it a point to accumulate as many rejections as possible to both increase their chances of success and prove to themselves that “failure” is a necessary part of the journey.
But we all secretly wish it didn’t have to happen — and that it didn’t happen to so many of us in such a variety of unappealing ways.
Yes — there are many, many kinds of rejection writers can face. The most common is the “thank you for your submission, but …” email (or something of that type). About just as common, but so much more painful: The “non-response.” You know the one. You’re probably still waiting for that email reply that will, sadly, never come, no matter how tightly you might hang onto your last centimeter of hope.
There’s another type of rejection we don’t talk about enough, though. It doesn’t come from a publisher or an agent or an editor. It might, or might not, come from someone you know. And it is such a frustratingly passive form of rejection that it’s almost impossible not to react negatively to.
It’s the rejection that comes from readers — or rather, a lack thereof.
Continue reading “When No One Reads: A Different Kind of Rejection”
There is still time to catch up!
I used to be an “all or nothing” achiever.
This meant that went I went all in on something — such as National Novel Writing Month, for example — I really went all in. And I would do everything I had the time and resources to do in order to make sure that I completed every task, every goal, no matter what.
But this mentality had a darker side. If for whatever reason I could not even come close to meeting a goal I had set for myself — especially if starting was the issue I found myself struggling against — I just quit. I wouldn’t even try. If I couldn’t give 100 percent to the cause, I wasn’t going to give anything at all.
There is a reason I was not a great student. When it came to studying for an exam, I would either abandon all other obligations and necessities and study every waking moment until test day, or I wouldn’t even bother printing out a study guide. It was always one extreme or the other, every single time.
This is, of course, partially the fault of anxiety. However, even though I can’t change that factor, I very much can change how I respond to it. And this is a huge help when I am working on big writing projects that take long periods of time to complete — we’ll stick with our NaNoWriMo example.
When you are writing 50,000 words in 30 days, it’s almost inevitable that at some point throughout those 30 days you will fall behind schedule. Whether or not you make up for lost time is really up to you. But there are many writers out there who will quit as soon as they fall behind.
I know what that’s like. And I want you to know that it does not have to continue to be your reality.
No matter your goals, no matter what you are specifically trying to accomplish as a writer, it is possible to learn how to “correct” for missed milestones and still reach your own personal finish line on time.
Continue reading “Writers: Don’t Quit When You’re Falling Behind”
Sometimes a finish line is a long distance away. Here’s how to stay focused.
One of the hardest things about writing is that it’s extremely difficult to judge whether or not you’re improving or making serious progress toward your goals.
Even tracking your progress throughout a larger project makes things more complicated than it often seems they should be.
A mistake writers often make when starting new projects is “aiming high” — setting a very large and ambitious goal, such as getting a novel published — and beginning to work toward that large and ambitious goal without establishing any strategy for how to continue progressing the whole way through.
When you start working toward achieving a big project, your motivation runs high, the ideas flow freely, and you can write thousands of words without breaking a metaphorical sweat.
But all that wears off. You start to see just how far away your end goal is. You start to get discouraged, and even begin to wonder if continuing is even worth it.
It doesn’t have to be this way, though. I promise.
Continue reading “How to Keep Writing When Your Finish Line Seems Too Far Away”
Sometimes aiming high is not the right move.
Struggling to achieve a goal is not a great feeling. It makes you feel as though you are failing, or not good at something you thought you were good at. It brings up a lot of negative emotions that aren’t always easy to deal with.
What many writers don’t realize is that it’s not their inability to write a good story or finish a project or “do things right” that is holding them back. It might actually be the goals themselves that are the problem.
Continue reading “Are Your Writing Goals Too Ambitious?”
Do you struggle to finish projects you were once so eager to start? Here are a few things you can try.
1. Start by making sure you have an end goal that makes sense for you — one that is manageable and something you can still be proud of. Maybe writing a novel is too big right now. So shoot for something shorter.
2. Don’t rush. Sometimes when we get new ideas we write 500,000 words in two days and then completely burn out. Don’t do that. Take things slowly, no matter how tempting it is to dive in headfirst at the initial spark.
3. Speaking of burnout, take breaks. Don’t write yourself exhausted. Don’t wait until you’re sick of working on something to set it aside. Put it down for a day while you’re still excited about it, then hop back in, and repeat.
4. When you get stuck, walk away. Don’t sit there staring at your own words expecting an idea to leap from your screen. Go do something creative that doesn’t involve writing. Or the dishes. Inspiration hides in odd places.
Continue reading “13 Tips for Writers Who Just Want to Finish Something For Once”
Has your writing been on hiatus for a while? Here’s how you know you’re ready to dive back in.
1. You’ve been jotting down an increasing number of idea fragments lately.
2. Returning to writing is no longer a “maybe or a “what if” — it’s a “when.”
3. You’ve decided other people’s opinions of your work aren’t going to stop you from writing anymore. You’re done with that. You’re ready to take ownership of and embrace your work.
4. You’re starting to get kind of bored? Maybe in a good way? But also how many times is too many times when it comes to organizing the books on a bookshelf?
Continue reading “12 Signs It’s Time to Start Writing Again”
I think we all need these this week.
1. Some words are better than no words. Even the worst writing you have ever done can teach you something about yourself, your work, and where to go from here.
2. In writing, there is no such thing as “failure.” The only way to fail is to not write anything. The rest of it is just a series of attempts, which all, ideally, make you a better writer even when those attempts don’t turn into successes.
3. It’s OK to take breaks. In fact, not taking breaks will cost you more writing time in the long term than taking the occasional break will.
4. If you don’t get it all done, it’s OK. I don’t think any of us are ever really “all caught up” on work (even if we’d like to think we are).
Continue reading “12 Mid-week Reminders to Get You Through the Rest of Your Writing”
Try not to get distracted while reading this.
If I told you how many times I got distracted while writing this post, you would … oh let’s be real, you would probably believe me. Because it happens to all of us. We go in fully intending to work on something straight through until it’s done. But this rarely, if ever, actually happens.
I just got distracted again. Seriously. I’m not doing a good job of managing my focus today.
Which is the perfect way to transition into my guide that will (hopefully) help you to be less like me and more like a writer who will STOP CHECKING TWITTER AND SLACK AND FACEBOOK AND WHAT EVEN ELSE WAS I JUST LOOKING AT I DON’T KNOW.
Continue reading “How to Banish Distractions and Get More Writing Done: A Quick Guide”