As writers, we all want to continuously be moving along in our goals. Think of it as a river. A river constantly flows. There may be places where it looks very calm and barely moving, but if you look close enough, you’ll see a current.
At times, your project feels like it’s a rushing river; other times, it’s trickling along like a small stream.
We have to manage our energy, time, and resources in both places – and everything in between – along the project spectrum. It’s easy to get caught up in your own writing and let it pull you along. The problem with that, though, is that when the torrent is done, you may feel as if you’ve been deserted. And that can lead to self-doubt. “What’s wrong with me? Yesterday, I cranked out 5000 words! Why can’t I write anything today?” And that leads further to “Oh, maybe this is an awful idea, and I should stop.” Or “No one is going to read this. Who the heck do I think I am?”
If we find ourselves in the slow and steady part of the meandering writing river, we may question if we’re ever going to get there. It seems as if everyone else you know is passing you by, full steam ahead.
Here’s the thing… life, business, writing, you name it… is a cycle. We have our high energy states, and that’s followed by a low energy state. We have our low energy states, and that’s followed by a high energy state. What can confuse it even further is when our creative energy doesn’t match our physical energy. Then we’re even more frustrated because we have all these ideas without the physical ability to put them into play. Or, worse in my opinion, plenty of energy and not one creative idea in sight.
What’s the key to managing your writing project, without getting caught up in the negative mind chatter, and keep it sailing along? Three things… Kindness, small steps, and celebrations.
First, recognize that there are cycles. BE in those cycles. Feel the gift that they bring. If you’re moaning that you have all these ideas, but you’re exhausted from a 10-day business trip and can’t possibly write a word, understand that you need rest and rejuvenation. The physical energy will come later. Capture the ideas so that you don’t lose them, and know you’ll come back to them when your physical energy is more in alignment with your creative energy.
Part of that recognition means being kind and understanding – to yourself. Most of us fall down in that area. We have such high expectations of ourselves, and we think we should be writing books, running businesses, raising kids, cooking healthy, gorgeous meals, training for a marathon, going to spinning class, volunteering in the PTA… Um, no.
Imagine that you’re talking to a friend who’s being awfully hard on herself. What would you say to her? Now turn that kindness and compassion inward.
Next, nobody ever writes “Write my book” on their to-do list on Monday and then crosses it off on Friday. It just doesn’t happen. Break down your writing project into as many small steps as you can think of. Your steps should be as concrete as find two competing books, research statistics on fuel usage in New York City from 1950 – 1990, brainstorm chapter titles, write the introduction. Put each step on an index card. Then put the cards in order. Take the top three, and that becomes your current to-do list for this project.
Finally, and this is the important part that almost everyone misses… When you complete one of those action steps, celebrate it. Give yourself a pat on the back. Call your staunchest supporter and crow!!! Cross it off the list with glee. Put a gold star on that index card. Truly let it sink in that you’re making strides in this project.
Following these three steps will keep you moving, and eventually, you’ll get to your destination.