(Yeah, I’m rockin’ the new banner skill.)
I’ve decided to explore what makes good writers go bad. At times even the best of us experience self-defeating behaviors that hurt our writing career, our creativity and our self-esteem. Since I do not hold a degree in psychology, I’m not going to delve into the “whys” of what we do. But since I have experience in snapping out of a self-induced (and lengthy) writer’s block phase I feel competent to speak to how to break the viscous cycle of Bad Writer’s Behavior (BWB).
Now in my own defense, I personally have not been afflicted with all the bad behaviors we will discuss. You see, I have writer friends and they have fallen victim to BWB over the years. So, while I will not share their names with you I will share their struggles and how they got out of their funk. To be honest, it was usually me who gave them a swift kick in the ass. And now I’m sharing with the rest of you.
The first bad behavior we’ll tackle is the dreaded “I have no time to write”
We’ve either said “I have no time to write”, heard another writer say that or (I think the best one) a civilian (non-writer) say “I’ll write a book one day when I have the time.” ROTFLMAO. Seriously.
Take a moment and think about it, who has time to write? A full-time writer perhaps?
For a moment lets peek into a published, full-time writer’s world. Promotion, contract negotiations, social media, line edits, copy edits, galleys, art-fact sheets, conferences, plotting new book, outlining, etc. You get the idea. Whether we’re full-time writers or not, none of us are handed a chunk of time just for writing.
You want time to write? You need to grab it by the horns. That’s right. You must make the time to write. With that said, it’s easy to see why we believe that we have no time to write. Making the time means stepping up and taking action. And isn’t so much easier not to step up and do something?
I think so.
Whatever the deep down emotional reason for resisting the writing process, for the majority of us the reason why we don’t have time to write is because we don’t want to. Even if you’re published with an agent and editor, no one is standing over you waiting for you to finish your novel. The harsh reality is that your agent and editor have dozens and dozens of other writers who’d be happy to take your spot and maybe they can pay the new writer less money.
You’ve examined and you can’t find a deep down emotional reason for not writing so what then?
1 – Grab a calendar and record everything you do every day for a week. This is similar to food journaling when you’re on a diet – your bite it, you write it.
2 – Grab a sheet of paper and mark out seven days and half-hour slots from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed (5 am to 10pm).
3 – Based on your week-tracking journal fill in the time slots with hours spent at work, getting the family out the door in the morning, after-school & work activities, etc.
4 – eliminate what isn’t absolutely necessary. You have to decide that, I can’t help you there. Consider it a trade-off or temporary until you finish your manuscript.
5 – Grab another sheet of paper and mark out seven days and half-hour slots from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed.
6 – Based on what you absolutely need to do during the week fill in the slots this time including your scheduled writing time. This writing time needs to include time for research, plotting and critiquing if you’re doing that.
7 – Continue using your weekly calendar until you finish your manuscript.
A few time-wasters you should consider limiting: email, blogging/reading blogs (well, not this one of course 🙂 ), loops, television, computer games, email (big time suck) and research (yes, you can research too much). I’m not saying eliminate, just reduce the amount of time spent. What you’ll need to become a master of is effective time management.
Face it, you’re a writer and what you need to do is write. The greatest piece of advice I’ve ever heard came from a multi-published author during a RWA workshop. She said, “There are times when you cannot write and that’s okay. But there are time when you could have written but chose not to.”
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