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.

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

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.

Continue reading “What Is the Point?”

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.

Continue reading “The Writer’s Guide to Managing Self-Doubt”

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.

Continue reading “How to Be a More Productive Writer: A Quick Guide”

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.

Continue reading “You Have Exactly 15 Minutes Free. Will You Use It To Write?”

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”

Don’t Write ‘Perfect,’ Write Better

Not writing and writing perfectly are the extremes. What’s in the middle?

Perfectionism is overrated.

You probably already know this. You probably know someone who sometimes focuses so much on doing things perfectly that they end up doing worse than they would have otherwise.

Maybe that person is you.

The problem with perfectionism in writing is that there is plenty of room for making mistakes, and not much for trying to avoid them. There is a difference between carefully combing through a finished piece for errors and avoiding writing at all because you’re afraid of “doing it wrong.”

But if you can’t write perfectly, what CAN you do?

You can aim to always do better.

One of many things successful writers have in common is that they are not afraid of imperfection. In fact, they almost deliberately seek it out.

Continue reading “Don’t Write ‘Perfect,’ Write Better”

Can You Still Write When the Words Won’t Come?

Should you? And how?

When I’m feeling stuck and don’t feel “in the mood” to work on anything that’s on my to-do list (or none of the ideas I have to choose from seem all that appealing), it would be very easy to just give up.

And many people who find themselves in this situation do give up. They spend five minutes or less (okay, maybe sometimes more) struggling to Make Words Happen and then they close their laptops and go off to do something that doesn’t involve writing … because it’s easier? Because not writing when they want to write is stressful? Because an all or nothing mindset just naturally makes people quit when one thing isn’t working?

Before I wrote the two paragraphs above, I started at a blank blog post draft for a good six or seven minutes. I checked my email, I fed my dog, I made another cup of coffee. I checked my email again. I had already opened two drafts I’d previously saved hoping inspiration on another topic would strike, but it didn’t. So there I sat.

What was I supposed to say about writing when you can’t write when I couldn’t write? More importantly, should I even keep trying when my brain was busy trying to focus on a dozen other things? What if I tried to write and what I ended up creating was total garbage?

And yet here I am, still writing. And while this isn’t necessarily proof that anyone who feels blocked (you might know it as writer’s block) can overcome it through writing, I’ve personally come to believe that in many (though not all) situations, the inability to find the right words has a very simple solution: Write. Right?

Here’s what you need to know.

Continue reading “Can You Still Write When the Words Won’t Come?”

You Might Be Craving Feedback You Don’t Actually Need

What are you doing wrong? Maybe you already have the answer.

One of the most frustrating things about being a “small” creator is that even when you aren’t getting any feedback on your work, you have to keep working.

Sometimes I will publish a blog post that will absolutely tank, and other than low numbers and a lack of engagement, I have absolutely no way of knowing that this is the case — but I especially don’t have any clue whatsoever as to why that particular post performed terribly in comparison to others.

I never know if it’s a weird glitch in the system, a bad headline, or uninteresting content. I never know if it’s my writing or meta data or the photo I chose to appear as the featured preview image.

It could be all of these things. It could be none of these things. It could just be people chose that particular day not to click on my blog post for no reason other than they had other things to do (which, for the record, I totally understand — I, too, am familiar with busyness).

Not knowing exactly what went wrong — and this does happen at least once per month at this point, if not more — doesn’t feel great. It doesn’t make me want to stop blogging or consider rethinking my entire model for how I run things here, but it does make me question, in more detail, what I could have done differently — if I could have done something differently at all.

As a small creator, you don’t get hundreds of thousands of comments on your posts complaining about a misstep or praising what has been done well. Most of the people who do read and find your content helpful don’t let you know — not because they don’t want to be helpful, but because some people just aren’t interested in engaging with online content — and this is totally fine. I don’t blame them. The internet is … quite something sometimes.

But there is actually an extremely important reason why I don’t push harder to get more specific feedback from all of you reading this blog. I could send out surveys, I could call for suggestions, I could straight up ask you all what you want to see more or less of from these posts.

I won’t, though — not extensively. Because as much as I often feel like I need more feedback in order to continue moving forward, that’s not always the best or most effective way to shift and improve the work that I am doing.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting or even asking for feedback — I want to be clear about that. Feedback is something all writers do need on an individual level at some point. In the earliest stages of your hobby and/or career, however, that’s not always going to be an option for you.

And maybe — just hear me out here — maybe that’s actually for the best.

Continue reading “You Might Be Craving Feedback You Don’t Actually Need”