Why are breaks important? You know why. I’m going to remind you anyway.
1. You aren’t going to want to listen to this advice. Maybe it’s because you’re afraid of losing your momentum, or that you will never start again once you stop. Whatever your reason, know this: There are no true rewards for pushing yourself so hard you break. No one who wants you to succeed wants to see you broken.
2. A break doesn’t have to last long. It can be an hour, an afternoon, a day. Sometimes people take weekends off, or the occasional Sunday. Sometimes week long vacations suffice. The length of your break is really up to you, and really depends on what you prefer, what you can afford, and what you can personally handle.
3. You should take a break even if you don’t feel like you “need” to take a break. If we are talking about burnout here, the most dangerous part about the condition for creators is that you often do not notice it is happening to you until it’s too late.
4. A “break” doesn’t have to mean lounging around on the couch eating potato chips and watching everything possible on Disney+ — though, of course, it certainly can. A break can mean you go off and do something else creative, like drawing, which still uses brain power but not in the exact same way as writing.
Continue reading “14 Midweek Reminders For Writers Who Haven’t Taken a Break In a While”
Thinking about giving up? Don’t — at least, not yet.
1. There are a lot of stories already out there, but there can never be too many of YOUR stories out there.
2. Being unique isn’t about telling a story that has never been told, it is about telling a story from a perspective people can both relate to and learn from.
3. No one writes like you write. You may have a style inspired by other writers and stories you love, but there is only one you, and only one voice through which the stories you write are told.
4. If you are thinking about giving up because of something someone else did or said (or didn’t say or didn’t do), take some time to consider your choice. No one technically has the right to tell you which dream you can and cannot follow, and anyone who tries is just not nice.
Continue reading “12 More Reasons Not to Give Up On Your Writing Dreams”
It can be done. No, really.
When it comes to writing — and most writers — there seem to be two extremes: those who write all the time and don’t do much else, and those who wish they could write more but can never seem to write enough.
I have a theory as to why we don’t hear from the former type very much — I can say from personal experience that it’s hard to talk about “over-writing” because it sounds kind of elitist to complain about having too many ideas and too much work when there are those who struggle so much with this on a daily basis. But that’s a discussion for another blog post.
Here’s the truth: At the end of the day, writing is work. If you have dreams of getting published or working as a writer in a certain industry or gaining recognition for your words in any way, you will spend much of your creative energy on doing work other people will see.
This isn’t to say people who write as a hobby aren’t “real” writers. This isn’t the case at all. But for the most part, even hobbyists often dream of being able to display or promote or be known for their work someday. They just approach it differently, with the realistic expectation that it might not ever be their full-time career. And many writers of this nature are completely okay with this.
Regardless of how you treat it, there has to be some kind of balance in writing between the things you do “for work” and the things you do “for fun.” You can’t function well if you only ever work, the same way you will have a much harder time working if all you ever do is play.
Is it possible to balance both these things? Yes. But it’s certainly not an easy thing to do.
Continue reading “All Writers Must Learn to ‘Balance’ Work and Play”
What must we give up when we write? And can we ever have it back again?
According to my Fitbit app, I haven’t gone for a run in almost three weeks.
As I am writing this, that means the last time I laced up was November 3. And that has nothing to do with the weather, which has been unfavorably wet and cold and awful for most of the month.
It turns out that despite other stressors that have led to my temporarily putting workouts on hold — to be fair, I do walk my Husky every day, and by walk, I mostly mean sprint — I actually stopped running every day when I started working on my NaNoWriMo novel.
Suddenly, I had a daily choice: Write 1,667 words, or run three miles?
I’m the type of person that would normally say “do both! You just have to make time.” This is a fair assumption. I probably could make time for both if I really needed to, and in the past, I have.
But this year I decided I was going to let myself choose between one or the other. And it just so happens that I have chosen to write.
Because sometimes, if you want to succeed in writing, there are things you have to give up. This is, after all, the way. Of things.
Continue reading “The Things We Give Up”
Writing over the holidays? Keep some of these things in mind.
1 You know what’s fun to do while writing? Eat. Do that. This is a guilt-free segment of time in all aspects of the concept.
2. Pay attention to how you are feeling around this time of the year and use that to your advantage when working on a story or two. I always feel a mix of joy and sadness around the holidays, and I’ve written some pretty convincing emotional scenes over many Thanksgivings past.
3. Spend some time doing creative things that do not involve writing. The holidays are the perfect time to exercise your brain in different and fun ways — like playing games and getting creative in the kitchen.
4. And when you do write, don’t be afraid to work on something that “doesn’t matter.” By that I just mean give yourself the freedom to write whatever you want without worrying about whether or not it’s good or how long it’s going to take to finish it. Let your story go off the rails! Go nuts!
Continue reading “12 Reminders For Anyone Writing Over the Holidays”
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”