“What If I Write When I Don’t Feel Like Writing and It Turns Out Terrible?”

What if, though? Does it matter?

It’s Sunday afternoon. You’ve been putting in a lot of extra time on your nights and weekends lately, trying to make progress on a personal project you hope will turn into something more … eventually.

The bottom line: You’re exhausted. You’re also hungry and cold (because the weather went straight from summer to winter somehow and you just weren’t prepared for that, were you?). You haven’t even logged into Netflix for over a month. You don’t want to do anything. You certainly don’t want to do any writing.

But you know you should write anyway. Either that, or you realize with a sinking feeling that you have a deadline coming up. It was one of those “oh, I’ll get to it when the due date gets closer” promises that has suddenly turned into “if I don’t start working on this today, I’m never going to finish it in time.”

Whether you want to write or you have to, “not feeling like it” definitely doesn’t make writing any easier. One of the hardest parts about being a writer, after all, is writing even when you’d rather not. Sitting down to write is often more challenging than the actual writing — yes, it makes sense. You might be shaking your head right now, sadly, because you know it does. You know all too well.

Maybe you’re afraid. Not of writing, not of what your final product might turn out to be, but that you’re going to write when you don’t want to write and it’s going to be bad. Bad writing, a bad story, a bad idea — it doesn’t make sense, writing when you’re not in the right “mindset.” What if it’s not good? What if you waste hours of work on something you’re just going to end up redoing or throwing out later?

This is not an uncommon fear. This is not a fear that you should be ashamed of, or one that anyone should judge you for. All of us want to write good things. None of us want to waste our time writing something that we’re just going to have to go back and rewrite later.

But here’s the thing: Sometimes, you aren’t going to have any other choice.

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What Triggers Inspiration In You?

Do you know what inspires you most?

Have you ever logged onto your favorite website or turned on your favorite movie or TV show just so you could “get inspired?”

We have all probably done this at some point. We know ourselves pretty well, and we know the sorts of things that make us feel good. Being in a good mood isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for writing, but it definitely helps relieve stress and put you in the proper headspace to think clearly and get things done.

But is going after inspiration the best option? Perhaps, as long as you know the things that trigger inspiration for you personally, you won’t have to do any hunting.

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12 Reminders For Writers Who Feel Like Giving Up

Some more things you might need to hear.

1. Taking a break is an option. You don’t have to completely stop doing something forever.

2. But if writing no longer makes you happy, you shouldn’t force yourself to do something that’s making you miserable. It’s OK to make the best choice for you in the moment, even if it’s not the most ideal.

3. It’s always when you’re about to quit, when you don’t think you can stand the way things are going for another second, that things seem to suddenly turn around.

4. Most writers still have day jobs. Money isn’t the only reason for writing (or not writing).

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15 Things All Writers Struggle With Sometimes (Even When They Won’t Admit It)

And guess what? It’s OK to struggle. We all do.

1. Writing things that scare them and take them out of their comfort zones.

2. Balancing writing with all the other things that require space and energy and time in their lives.

3. Gathering the confidence to take a chance on a (maybe) crazy idea.

4. Following through on a project from start to finish. (Sometimes it’s just DIFFICULT, you know?)

Continue reading “15 Things All Writers Struggle With Sometimes (Even When They Won’t Admit It)”

12 Things You, a Writer, Might Not Have Heard In a While (But Need to)

Some quick reminders in case you need them.

1. Writing is tough, but so are you.

2. Writing one word at a time isn’t nearly as hard as it sometimes seems.

3. When you’re stuck, just remember you are a writer and you can technically arrange a bunch of words onto a page any way you want and call it art. :)

4. People can criticize your words but they can’t stop you from writing.

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What Is the Point?

Is there one? Can you find it?

A few weeks ago, I asked my Twitter followers what they wanted me to write about on this blog.

I don’t do this often, though maybe I should. As stressful and distracting as social media can be at times, it’s an important channel for connecting with audiences and reminding readers that you, a person, are just like them. Out here trying to make your way in the world, hoping you know what you’re doing, or at least hoping you know how to pretend you do when you don’t.

Sometimes the best questions are the shortest — yet, somehow, the least straightforward.

“What is the point?”

I have thought about this question for a long time — okay, only weeks, but they have been very long weeks. And to be fully transparent, I might have waited a lot longer to write about this if I hadn’t suddenly been faced with so much stress and anxiety and uncertainty and doubt in my personal life that I began questioning my professional endeavors as well.

So a little while ago I was standing outside with my dog, who loves the cold weather, and I closed my eyes and let the wind chill my face as she ran around and I thought about how much I was going to have to write once we went inside.

And I started to dread even the thought of having to write anything. Because I didn’t want to. Not today. I wanted to hide under a blanket. I didn’t want to think. I didn’t want to face the pressure of having to come here and say things that mattered, things that might actually help someone.

But then I started thinking. What’s the point?

And I don’t think I came up with an answer. But I have, perhaps, formulated a theory.

Maybe the point of writing — the answer to the “why am I even doing this at all” question — isn’t as complex as we expect it to be.

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The Writer’s Guide to Managing Self-Doubt

It’s okay to doubt yourself. But don’t let it hold you back.

From all the years I have spent writing about writing and interacting with other writers about productivity and the creative process, I have come to believe the thing that holds most writers back is self-doubt.

People are afraid of not doing well. Of being called out, of being rejected. People want their work to be praised, to be noticed, to be loved. And the second anything threatens to stand in the way of any of that, they freeze up. They make themselves smaller. They say, “No. Okay. Maybe this whole writing thing isn’t for me.”

They are so concerned and preoccupied with being “the best” or “as good as [famous writer]” that they stop believing in themselves. They criticize their own effort. They wonder if they should even keep trying. Because who would ever want to read what they have to say, anyway?

This is not an uncommon problem. But it is one that can be dealt with, if you’re willing to make the attempt.

Self-doubt doesn’t have to be a roadblock. It might make your life as a writer harder. It shouldn’t make it impossible.

Here’s how to deal.

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How to Be a More Productive Writer: A Quick Guide

Want to be a more productive writer? Here’s where to start.

So. You want to write more, huh?

I totally get it. Writing is the thing you desperately want to do more of but can never seem to find the time to do as much of it as you would like. Because no one tells you how time-consuming writing is. And they don’t tell you how exhausting it is.

And they definitely don’t tell you how much people who aren’t writers do not understand any of this. Which makes getting writing done a thousand times harder, since “aren’t you done writing yet” and “why are you still writing” are common grumbles among the loved ones of even the most ambitious aspiring writers.

Life is busy, most of us are tired, and this is not a world designed with creators — especially writers — in mind.

So how are you supposed to write more when trying to write more just makes everything else that much harder to manage?

Here are a few tips that have helped me write and more with the same 24-hour blocks of time as everyone else. Hopefully they will help you, too.

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You Have Exactly 15 Minutes Free. Will You Use It To Write?

Are you making the best use of your time? Are you sure?

I am writing this blog post during my normal working hours (at my day job). I am writing thi s blog post during my normal working hours (at my day job) because I have about 15 minutes before I can move on to my next project (long story). And I don’t have time to just sit around and wait.

Okay, well, technically I DO have time. Minutes are minutes, and no one would fault me if I spent 15 of them browsing the internet for story ideas while I waited to be able to move on to the next thing.

But if there is one thing I have learned about productivity over the past eleven months, it is that if you want to get as much writing done as possible, you can’t just wait until it’s most convenient. You can’t wait around until you’re “in the right mindset” to do what needs to be done.

I have 15 minutes. So I am going to spend 15 minutes working on a blog post — a blog post I would have taken the time to sit down and write at some point before sundown today anyway.

It’s only 15 minutes. But you’d be surprised how many words you can write in a short amount of time when you really set your mind to the task.

Most writers aren’t trained to make good use of the free spaces in their days. But that can change.

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12 Things Everyone Tells You About Writing But Maybe You Need to Hear Them Again

You probably need to hear at least one of these today.

1. Most people don’t get anything they write published on the first try.

2. All writers start out writing terribly. There is plenty of room (and time) to grow.

3. You don’t “get good” at writing ONLY by reading books about writing.

4. You don’t have to have a book published to be considered a writer.

Continue reading “12 Things Everyone Tells You About Writing But Maybe You Need to Hear Them Again”