Are you being responsible with your writing dreams?

ToDoForLifeIn my last post, I shared how a fellow writer managed to get down almost 36,000 words despite him having a family, a toddler and mushrooms growing in his basement.

And I asked “What’s my excuse?”

Truth is, I don’t have one. I just suck at setting boundaries with myself. When I’ve blocked off time to work on my writing, my process goes something like this:

  1. Put on comfy clothes
  2. Tell my husband I’m unavailable
  3. Sit down to my computer
  4. Put my hair in a pony tail
  5. Redo ponytail 15 times
  6. Pay bills
  7. Get some water
  8. Go back for a snack
  9. Do dishes
  10. Sit back down
  11. Clean my ear buds
  12. Arrange my desk toys so that everyone’s making friends
  13. Check my WordPress reader
  14. Wonder why I haven’t written anything
  15. Curse my lack of discipline
  16. Admire my clean kitchen
  17. Vow to try this whole writing thing again tomorrow and binge-watch my latest obsession on Netflix

For the sake of brevity, I left out all the times I go through my playlist looking for the right music. Hey, who am I to give up on a music library with over 1,000 song titles?

I know I’m not alone here.

She's lucky she's cuteMy husband doesn’t bug me. Sure, cats aren’t always conducive to human productivity, but I can hardly blame mine (despite the evidence).

Henwen, was that really necessary?

But if I haven’t written what I want to write, if I’m not writing at all—it’s my fault.

That goes for you, too. If you’re not writing, it’s your fault. You’re not setting down the necessary boundaries with yourself to make it happen.

As you can see, I’m just as guilty.

I recently came across a TED talk that helped give me a wake-up call. It’s 5 ways to kill your dreams by entrepreneur and author Bel Pesce. If you can carve out 6 minutes and 11 seconds, watch it.

She said some things that resonated with me.

If you have dreams, it’s your responsibility to make them happen…No one achieves theirs goals alone. But if you didn’t make them happen, it’s your fault. Check out the whole video

Good news. If you’re not writing, you can change that.

I haven’t come up with any tips for carving out writing time, but author Kristen Lamb has. And she wrote a post about it: Time Management—Are We Busy or Fruitful?

Okay, sorry to break the news but time isn’t hidden in the couch cushions like loose change, Cheerios and that remote control we haven’t seen in a month. We can’t find time. We’re given time. How we spend it’s our choice. Read her post

Seriously, between my fellow writer’s 99 pages, Bel Pesce’s TED talk and Kristen Lamb’s blog post, it feels like the universe is beating me over the head to get it in gear.

I hear you, Universe. But feel free to keep it coming because you know me so well.

Now, in writing this post, I was tempted to set up some complicated tracking system and find a writer’s hack I can share. However, given my track record of sticking to a system (my pickle jar now owes me $750; I charge a high interest), I’ll save myself the embarrassment.

Because trying to come up with a miraculous writer’s miracle hack is one more way I distract myself.

I suspect that I’m not alone in that, either.

The only system I’ve found that works so far is to take the time I’d spend planning my newfound miracle hack and use it to park my butt and write.

So far, so good. I wrote this blog post.

Normally when I end a post, I like to ask for your feedback. Your thoughts. Your experience. Not this time, although you’re more than welcome to share those, too. This time, I welcome you to write 300 words and post it in the comments

If you do, congratulations. You’re now 300 words closer to dream.

11 thoughts on “Are you being responsible with your writing dreams?”

  1. Erica

    I spent my whole 3 years at university procrastinating like this. But I did do Mathematics and Physics. So it was hardly easy motivating myself to do something that was so incredibly boring.

    Then one day (shortly before my finals) I hit upon a technique I still use now.

    It’s actually based on a concept in physics, but it really does work. I think I’ve mentioned it before – inertia.

    Basically, it’s very hard to get yourself moving when you’re stationary. What’s more, it’s very hard to stop when you’re moving.

    So the trick is to break that inertia and get yourself into a state of movement.

    To do this, you have to work solidly for about an hour. You just keep on going, no matter how painful and how strong the temptation to stop.

    You’ll be amazed at how effective this is. Once you’ve broken through the initial pain barrier, you actually find it hard to stop.

      1. 300+ words in 10 mins BOOYAKASHA Thanks!

        Is it laziness, anxiety, exhaustion or a combination of all 3? I’d like to say it’s a combo. A big, nasty combo like those greasy burger combos from fast-food joints that I swore off years ago. In fact, making this comment is procrastinating from other work, if you think about it. But at least it serves the purpose of answering your CTA and getting 300 words out of my head that needed to come out. 300 words of something not client-related.

        Granted, a side effect of ingesting the terrible procrastination combo is getting so behind, you don’t have time to write anything for yourself or for personal projects. Everything has to take a back seat, because I’m rushing to get last minute work done. Yes, even though the stuff I’m working on can go towards a portfolio to help my career. I’m not doubting that. But it certainly doesn’t pull me away from the disgusting combo. Only writing about what I consume helps get it out of my system.

        Much like actual fast food, laziness, anxiety and depression makes you feel ill and lethargic. There really aren’t any fast fixes like Tums for this kind of deadly combo. It takes fighting against the fatigue with all I can and work with it. And appreciate what little I get done, because that is something.

        Today, I lamented about my lack of writing clients because of this. She told me I was driven and brought up a completely unrelated activity that I did. I’d almost forgotten about it. Why does it seem to always take the words of another person, who’s looking on the outside in, to show us what’s real and now what’s in our heads? I suppose that’s why everyone needs companionship.

        Even now, I’m wondering how to “work” this comment into something later, but I won’t. That’s not always the point of commenting. Usually it’s just to say hi, agree with the poster and hopefully elaborate with your own ideas. So that’s what I’m choosing to do.

        1. I love the way you internalize it as a known toxic substance that we consume even though we know it’s toxic. Nice work. And thank you for taking the time to drop a mic. 🙂

  2. Oh, Ducky. You got me. I mean you always *get me* but I do indeed blame my own lackadaisical ways for not being further along in my career. Thanks for this post and the recommended links.

      1. Not everyone can do the writing and full time job thing. I can’t even do it sometimes and this *is* my job LOL. I think you don’t give yourself enough credit.

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