When I coach a writer, they have access to me. They can text me when they are stuck, or jump on a quick call with me to overcome a block. Some even text me every night to let me know the progress they made that day. Many writers have finished their first drafts under my guidance, but I can’t take credit for it — while I can motivate and educate them on tools they don’t even know they lack, I can’t force them to sit down and do the work. Those who sit down and do the work are the ones who complete a draft. Writing takes time. It takes dedication and tenacity. It takes perseverance.
But sometimes, life gets in the way. We to work late, or move apartments, or our mother needs help, or our kid is having a bad day. Sometimes we simply can’t fit writing into our schedule.
It’s okay to take a break once in a while if you are otherwise productive. If you are not otherwise productive (with your writing specifically), then you’re inside that dark and grimy barrel labeled: Excuses. It’s not pretty inside that barrel and yet you stay there. Excuses mean avoidance. Ask yourself why you are avoiding, rather than if you are avoiding. I assure you, if you are not making progress on a project you care about, you are avoiding it, and if you are avoiding it, there is something you need to figure out.
As a writing coach, I help writers figure out what might be stopping them from making progress. I am there to support them and coach them toward having a completed first draft. If you work on your own instead of with a coach, try sitting down and writing about why you are avoiding doing something you really want to do. Ask yourself the tough questions:
- Is this something I really want to invest my time in?
- If so, why am I not investing my time?
- What am I worried about?
- How can I refocus myself?
- What are my bad habits and how can I replace them with good habits?
On the surface, your avoidance might seem illogical, but there is a clear reason lurking behind your lack of action, you just need to dig in and figure out what is holding you back. You may end up facing some hard facts about yourself but that is the moment that growth takes root. Only then will you be able to start on the path toward change and make progress on your manuscript.
One final tip: don’t spend time looking backward and feeling bad about not being productive; look forward and make changes to your writing routine starting today.