Consistency comes up in most stories of success – followed closely or preceded by persistence. The keep pushing, go get em, I think I can so I can attitude drives the personality to reach the goals set ahead. Most of the participants in Blogchat last night on Twitter seemed to agree.
Consistency and I have had a tumultuous relationship at best. I find ways to be consistent for a few weeks (maybe even months) but something always veers me askew and I end up in a ditch. It may be something “positive” like a new schedule. It may be an unexpected illness in the family. No matter what the IT is, IT puts a hitch in my giddy up.
“If something is important then you will find the time to do it.” I wrote those very words, and they are true. I know that. I wrote content for other people CONSISTENTLY for five years. I just have not yet “found the time” to make my writing as important as I made the writing I did for others.
Nothing changes until something changes. If I ever want to fall into a habit of consistency with my own writing, then I have to change how I approach my own writing.
Challenge: Make a Schedule – AND DO IT
– Figure out what the most productive time of the day is for you. I work better in the mornings. Getting up one hour earlier will allow me to create content, work on a chapter or polish an article. That one extra hour can help me find a way to build consistency into my writing day.
– Know what needs to be accomplished. I have a list written out on a white board that reminds me what I want to accomplish for the week. It includes household chores, family activities, and my writing because working from home means finding a way to blend all of the things that need to be accomplished.
– Let others in on the secret. My family has access to the white board so that they can see what I need to do and they can help me CLAIM the time I need to get them done. The only thing I have yet to do is explain that morning works best for my writing while afternoons work better for my household activities. Bringing others into the loop can help keep the cart moving down the right path.
There is no right or wrong way to create a schedule. Put something into the computer. Create your own calendar to post on the wall. Make use of the white board. No matter how you do it, do it.
Do YOU have a schedule for your day?
Sharing ideas about writing led me to remember that you write what is in your heart and then edit to get a solid book. Too many times writers stumble around the details and never complete the story. It all comes back around to the motto about the only way to be a writer is to write.
I live this idea of writing words that matter, but I have never sat down and thought about what it meant. God has amazing ways of getting His thoughts into our heads – sometimes it is a gentle breeze and sometimes it is a swift kick – today it was a gentle breeze.
A quick hello in Facebook led to a discussion about where God was leading when I reconnected with a friend from high school. Sherri pointed out that it seemed we were on similar paths – and I had to agree.
I encouraged her to write her heart and edit the book and it was like I had been hit by a bolt of electricity (now that I think about it – my battery backup did flash so maybe there it WAS more of a swift kick than I realize).
Tips for Writing the Heart
1. Say what you mean. Stop thinking about who might read the story and be annoyed or upset. Put YOUR words down on YOUR paper and give the story the freedom to move where it needs to go.
2. Talk to the reader. Tell the story like you would to your friend or neighbor. Make it a clear path of revelation that will make the writing experience more enjoyable for you so that you WILL write.
3. Get to a place where your words are protected. Worrying about someone reading over your shoulder or picking up the notepad can hinder what you are willing to reveal. Put up a wall of protection that will allow the words to get raw. Think of it as writing naked – completely revealed.
4. Forget everything you have ever been taught about writing. Your journey is yours. No formula or rules will make it a reality. Allow the words to dictate your path. Write out an outline or skip the outline. Tell the story in sequential order or some other direction. Stop worrying about the how and just do it.
Tips for Editing the Book
– Read what you have written. There is a reason it takes a long time to write a book. You may be able to write 10,000 words a day, but you still have to read and review the words after the tale is told. Make notes about what you like, what you hate and what really should go in a new direction.
– Dare to kill your words. So many stories would have been better off if a few words had been left to die on the editing floor.
– Get input from unbiased sources. Get a printable draft completed (usually about the third or fourth round) and pass them on to people who will notice and point out the flaws. They do NOT have to agree with your point of view, the direction of the story or even what you say. You just need to listen and allow their words to help you solidify your story.
– Read what you have written – and out loud if possible. This pass through the story will reveal any trouble with the flow.
– Invest in beta readers. The final draft of your story will probably still need some tweaking. Give copies to people that read your niche (or that are willing to read what you have written) and see what reviews arise from their experiences.
The writing is for the words. The editing is for the book. Stop letting the editing hinder the journey of writing. Let the words flow without restriction and see where that flow leads.
Breaking the procrastination habit requires doing something – and doing it consistently. Getting it done is as simple as just doing it. Procrastination can be spelled W R I T E R S B L O C K or any number of ways. In the end, it is j
Putting things off until tomorrow is EASY – especially when you realize that technically tomorrow will never come because when it is here it is today. Making the tomorrow to-do list can be a great task for putting off what I should be doing today.
How do I do what I know to do when what I want to do is the things that I know get in the way of doing the should dos?
Top Three Secrets for Overcoming a Procrastination Habit
1. Determine the value of the actions that you choose. You may be the kind of person that comparison shops for everything, but you will spend your minutes like they are printed on the copier. You can make more money, but you can never make more time than you are given. It might be a good idea to spend half the time comparison shopping with the minutes as you do with the dollars.
2. Become accountable to someone other than self. Making the choice to work from home puts all of the responsibility for getting it done directly on YOUR shoulders. Being the boss means you can shift deadlines, put off projects or call a day off – if the urge strikes. Bringing in a partner – at least someone that can help you hold your feet to the fire when you are shying away from the tasks at hand – can help you break through to the success that comes from pushing when others back down.
3. Do something. Inaction breeds inaction and before you know it you have spent the day watching a Psyche marathon. Taking that first step to complete a task (even if that is just getting dressed or making the bed) opens the door to that next step. Before you know it you have put one foot in front of the other and . . .
Nothing gets done if I choose not to do anything. Procrastination is not the act of putting things off, but the act of choosing not to do what needs to be done. It may seem like semantics, but it can be the simple line between staying where I am right now or pushing on to the success I desire.
Invest in opportunities to learn if you want to build a successful writing career. If you are not growing then you are stagnant – and stagnant things always die. Learning opens up new ideas, expands old ideas and refreshes stale ideas. Learning is the gateway to possibilities. One of the most important investments you can make for your writing is the investment of time and resources into learning.
Best Places to Learn to Grow a Writing Career
Online challenges – the great thing about most of these challenges are that they are completely free. You may even end up winning some valuable prizes because of your participation. Search the internet for websites in your niche or that focus on your general genre. A quick search landed me a challenge at The Father Writers Writing Challenge, the Creative Every Day Challenge, and Ezinearticles.com (which offers a wide range of challenge or the option to build your own.)
Community classes – many local organizations offer free (or very inexpensive) classes on everything from aerobics to zither lessons – and pretty much anything in between. Call your local senior center, community center or community college and see if there is anything that you might want to learn, expand or just try.
Groups – people with similar interests often form groups where they can share ideas or learn new elements of their particular interests. Find one of these groups and become active in it and through it.
Conferences – there are no limits to the conferences that are available around the globe and throughout the year. You will have to determine what you want to invest and why you want to attend. Start local so that you can get a feel for the conference environment (and will not have the added expense of accommodations).
Learning is not just about focusing in on your particular career choice or niche. It is about expanding beyond the ordinary and expected. Learn something that has nothing to do with what you are doing, but then look for ways to apply what you have learned to where you are going. Let the things that you learn begin to guide you to a place where boxes no longer exist. Learn something that will grow you in boldness for your own purpose. Learn something and discover that learning helps grow the writing career that you desire.