5 Tips to Conquering Writing Fears

Posted January 24, 2016 by the lovely Aneeqah in General, Productivity / 0 Comments

Let’s face it, guys, writing can actually be pretty scary.

It seems so deceptively easy- sit down, maybe with a nice cup of something warm, and then proceed to pour your words onto the page. Simple. When you’re talking with those non-writerly friends, they constantly say “Oh, writing a book? That’s not so bad! All you have to do is type some words, right?”.

Wrong. (And please resist trying to throw that cup of something hot at them, though I’m sure you’re tempted to.)

Writing comes with its own set of fears and anxieties. Whatever it is that you’re struggling with, today, I’m here to help you conquer that little voice in your head that’s preventing you from writing, whether it be a small blog post or an entire novel.

 

5 Tips
Tips to Slapping Those Crippling Writerly Fears in the Face

1.) Go back to why you started it at all.

When you’re midway of a 100,000 thousand word manuscript (I’m there right now, actually), it can be tough to remember why you decided to do originally. You sit down for the umpteenth time, with a blinking cursor in front of you and you can’t help but feel totally overwhelmed. There’s so much for you to improve, so much left to do, and wow, suddenly you feel like you’ll never be able to write again.

The best thing to do with this panicky-kind of fear is to just take a step back. Close the laptop, close your eyes, and just sit for a few seconds. Or if you’re not into the whole zen thing (I get it, it’s kind of weird when you’re trying to chill and your sister bursts into the room questioning your sanity), grab some good ol’ fashioned pen and paper. Spend a few minutes just thinking about why you decided to embark on this writing adventure in the beginning. What compelled you to choose this story, this writing thing, when you could have chosen one of the many other ideas floating around in your mind or let your writing journal collect dust in the corner while you were out bowling? (Don’t doubt bowling, guys, people are pretty serious about this stuff, as I found out the last time I went bowling.)

Maybe it was the story that was jumping out to you. Maybe you wanted to start a blog to chronicle your love of books (hey, I do that!). Maybe you want to connect with readers, to change their lives with only the words on a printed page (wow this is suspiciously starting to sound like my reasons for writing…. Must be a coincidence). Maybe you want to learn to communicate with people more, empathize with them on a deeper level. Maybe you just want to leave a legacy.

Whatever it is, hone down onto it. Write it down, and stick it onto your writing space or on a sticky note on your computer. Make sure you look at it whenever you’re down. Writing sure as heck may be scary, and you may have no clue what you’re going to write to get yourself out of this terrible plot conundrum you’ve written yourself into, but hey, you’re doing this for a reason.

And that alone is incredibly, powerfully motivating. You have to get over the fear to reach that beautiful goal of yours. Use that reason, and keep going.

2.) Focus on just one thing at a time.

Novels can be particularly overwhelming, simply because writing a complete novel has so many steps. The drafting, the revising, the sending to beta-readers, the editing; it can all add up to be pretty scary, especially if you’re sitting down to write page 1 and can’t help but think about all the steps it’s going to take to finish this thing.

This kind of fear can stop you from even starting (I’m quite the over-thinker myself). And that, my dear readers, is no good for us writers.

So instead of continuously thinking about the enormity of a project, I want you to break it down. Write down every little thing that you’ll have to complete in order to finish the project. For writing a novel, this could include anything from researching a certain type of plant that would fit into your fantasy world to actually breaking your novel down into manegable chapters to finding the perfect beta-readers.

After you dump everything from your brain onto the paper (not literally, please… that would be hard to clean up, I’m sure), organize your list in order. Then grab a sticky note (can you tell I’m a fan of these?) or open a Note on your phone and write ONE thing down from that list. One. That’s going to be what you’re working on right now. Throw the rest of the list into the corner of your room, or if you insist upon being neat and organized, into a drawer or place that you aren’t going to be able to easily look at it.

Now you have your sole focus for the day, or next few days. All you need to worry about is finishing that one thing. Allowing your focus to funnel down to one thing takes away so much of the stress and fear of starting a project. Not only do you now have a roadmap of what exactly you need to do to finish your project, but you’re also focusing on one thing, which isn’t so bad, huh?

3.) Talk to your friends.

I’m so lucky to have a support group of friends with whom I can dump basically anything onto. Bad day at school? Dump. A character giving me a lot of trouble? Frustrated DM = sent. Wanting to give up on writing for eternity? I send a quick text message along the lines of “I’m done with the world!!”

Even if these said friends don’t respond in .00281 seconds (I mean, it’s almost like they have lives- what is this??), just typing out your frustrations to someone else is incredibly cathartic, and can actually help you feel better in .00281 seconds.

Additionally, whenever your friend does get around to answering, he/she can provide the exact words of encouragement you need. Sometimes, a quick text saying “Hey, you can do this!” is exactly what you need to tackle those messy revisions. Plus, friends offering (virtual or real life) cookies is pretty much the best.

If you haven’t found your ‘people’ yet- fret not, I totally get it. Try following some writerly people on Twitter and just chatting it up with them. Soon enough, you’ll be Tweeting each other random gifs and your friendship will be truly solidified.

And hey, if all else fails, don’t even hesitate to send me an email or a quick DM. I am always here for you (and I’m totally serious about this, even if it feels a bit cheesy. Just gotta trust me on this one! ;)).

4.) Remember, revision is totally a thing.

The pain of writing a first draft (especially if you’re a bit of a perfectionist) can be pretty daunting. Fear of writing something terrible is totally a thing, because I think we all innately want to tell a story, but the fear of “I’m not good enough” or “it’s going to turn out terrible” can prevent you from finishing a draft or even getting started with it.

But here’s the thing that you need to remember: it’s not going to be perfect the first time around. Nothing ever is.

The books you see lining the shelves of a bookstore (or let’s be real, lining your own shelves, because aren’t we all book hoarders at heart?) have been revised thoroughly. They’ve been torn apart, broken down, and re-assembled into something much better than their original drafts. Every published author I’ve talked to has stared at me in horror every time I ask about their preliminary drafts. “I would never want anyone but my editor to see that!” they say, and with good reason.

First drafts are messy. They’re ugly. They’re certainly not meant to be perfect. So just remind yourself: you are allowed to write a terrible first draft, because you’re going to be able to fix it later. Actually, make yourself write down everything that comes to mind while you’re writing, even if it’s absolutely terrible. That’s going to help the words start to flow.

Besides, as I always like to say, you can’t edit what’s not already there. Remember, revision will happen. What you write now is not going to be etched in stone. Think of it as molding the story- the real sculpture carving will happen later (I took one year of art history and this is the best art metaphor I got).

5.) No one was born a writing god.

This is the thing I find myself forgetting most of the time.

It’s too easy to look to writers that are better than you and think “I can never be as good as them! They’re so so good! I am terrible!”. To which I say: a.) You’re not terrible and 2.) Those writers had to get to where they were somehow.

Writing is so much more than talent. In reality, it’s all about practicing, revising, listening. It’s about being aware of people, of being able to empathize with people (both in real life and in fiction) and about creating something beautiful. Does talent play a role in that? Sure. But what it really comes down to is practice.

You have to work on writing if you want to get better. Most writers aren’t known for their first work, the successes start to happen after they have numerous manuscripts in their belt. The most famous people have been writing, full-time, for decades.

So have no fear, friend. Your writing will improve if you sit down and work on it, not if you worry about not being good enough. The easiest way to battle this fear is to just acknowledge your fear, and tell yourself, “I’m still a work in progress.” By sitting down and writing, you’re telling yourself that you are a writer, gosh dang it, and that you’re going to improve. The very acts of writing and reading and being observant will make you better.

Simply put, to get over this fear, do. Create. Listen. Write. That’s what all of those legendary writers had to do, and so will you.

Don’t forget, there are no super humans.

In Conclusion

If you ever get bogged down by writerly fears, there are a few things you can do. Go back to the beginning, give yourself some space, and give yourself permission to do things. Fear is really just a construct in your mind, and the more power you give it, the less free you will be to do whatever the heck it is you want to do.

So go out there. Write and conquer. Fear is a constant, but now you have a game plan of how to fight it.

Tell me: has fear ever stopped you from doing something? What are some of your best ways to overcome writerly fears? Are you going to start using any of these tips?

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If It’s Scary, It’s Probably a Good Idea

Posted January 16, 2016 by the lovely Aneeqah in General / 3 Comments

Ah, fear.

As writers, we’re pretty acclimated to the feeling of fear. Whether it’s a unique but very out there blog post or an unconventional novel, many times, we have ideas that scare us.

I’ve lost count how many ideas for my blog, novels, and other various things I’ve come up with over the past few years. So many cool collaborations with authors, or ideas on how to help my fellow bloggers and writers. Prime example: I’ve been wanting to write for larger publications (think Huffington Post or B&N Teen) for what seems like a million years now. I was thinking about asking some people for advice on how to actually make this happen, like, five minutes ago.

Yet, it didn’t happen. And I can point back to one main reason: fear.

But here’s the thing: if we’re afraid of doing something, it’s probably the one thing we should be doing.

If it scares you, do it.

Yeah, I said it.

I should probably give my disclaimer here, for the people who are about to start running around and waving their arms wildly, that yes, there are some scary things that you should not do. Like please, if drugs scare you, don’t do them. Let’s just stay away from that stuff in general, yes? Though, that situation is more of ‘I was taught in like the fourth grade this stuff is bad’ kind of fear.

That’s not the fear I’m talking about.

I’m talking about that fear that accompanies a crazy big idea. So many of us are sitting around, maybe scrolling through Twitter during a break or taking a nice long shower, when we’re suddenly struck by an idea. It’s crazy, it’s ambitious, but it might just work. We spend hours, days, weeks brainstorming and dreaming up potential plans of actions or outlines, and get giddy. But sometime in that process, fear creeps up behind us, taps us on the shoulder. Soon enough, instead of getting excited about our previously amazing plan, we start doubting it in the first place. It’s too hard, it takes up too much time, it requires too much skill. We couldn’t do it anyways, right? It’s too out there.

Fear can be an indicator.

That fear? It can actually be the exact sign that you need to go for whatever ideas we had.

We’re naturally wired to do what’s comfortable. We easily fall into our daily routines- wake up, eat a nice healthy breakfast (which I’m absolutely positive you all do), go to school/work, come home, watch some TV/read a book, take care of your family/do homework, go to sleep. It’s an endless loop. Maybe once in a while we go out with friends or go to the bookstore to buy ourselves a new book (clearly the latter is the better option), but those are all things that are familiar. Comfortable. They’re easy.

The new ideas simmering in our minds- those are the exact opposite of easy. They require us to push ourselves out of the neat little box of our lives, to push ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically. It requires us to improve, to take a leap of faith.

That’s scary as heck.

But how are we ever going to improve if we don’t do exactly that? If we’re not willing to push ourselves and expand our limits as a writer, then we are a.) not going to improve and b.) not even writers. If we don’t take the leap of faith, then we will stay exactly where we are. We’ll stagnate. We’ll lose sight of who we want to become in the mundane-ness of every day life.

Fear and opportunity come hand in hand.

New opportunities are lurking around every corner. I know it’s ridiculously cliche of me to say it, but it’s true. Sometimes we get so caught up in the monotony of every day life that we continue to miss opportunities as they slide by because we’re not putting ourselves out there. It’s scary to be vulnerable to failure, but with every failure, there’s an increased chance of success. We’re only building our odds for success with each failure we face.

The reality is, opportunity doesn’t come flying from the sky to land on the bedside table. We won’t magically wake up and have 7 agents waiting to hear about our crazy ambitious novel idea. We won’t get an email from the heads of newspapers asking about that really unique article idea we had. We have to overcome the fear of asking, of doing, of executing, if we want those opportunities to start crossing paths with us.

Success isn’t magic. It starts by overcoming those fears, by putting ourselves through those uncomfortable positions to build ourselves.

Fear is an opportunity. If we fear something, that means that we’re afraid of something, but that it’s going to force us to break our limits– and if we want to improve, that is exactly what we need to be doing.

In Conclusion

Whatever it is that’s scaring you right now- whether it be approaching someone for a collaboration or mentorship, starting a new novel, investing in someone to look over your work, whatever. Do it. Your fear is only an indication that whatever is about to come is going to change you.

And if you want to be successful, whatever that means to you, then you need to embrace that fear.

Go for it.

Tell me: have you ever been afraid to do something? Are you currently afraid of doing something? Let me know what it is, and we’ll work through your fears together- I’m always here to help! Leave a comment, email me, or send me a quick Tweet/DM on Twitter.

PS: yes, I took the leap of faith and asked some people questions about writing for popular publications. I may or may not have had to close my eyes while I did it, but, well, I did it. And I’m feeling pretty dang good.

PPS: Next week I’ll be talking about some practical ways to overcome those crippling fears- so stay tuned, and let me know if you have anything you’d like to be addressed in particular.

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There Are No ‘Super-Humans’

Posted January 9, 2016 by the lovely Aneeqah in General / 2 Comments

Recently, I’ve published two posts, one here on The Writing Hustle, the other on my book blog, that have gotten some interesting, unexpected responses.

One post talks about my audacious writing goal for the year, and the other other talks about people who read 200+ books in a year, some with demanding life obligations on top of reading so much. I shared these posts in hopes that people would be inspired to challenge themselves to write or read more themselves, especially since we’re still in that jolly New Year spirit (which, let’s face it, I unashamedly love).

However, that is not the response I received.

Instead, people simply replied things like “I could never do that!” or “Those people are crazy/out of this world/insanely awesome” aka not like me.

And that is where I take up issue. Let me tell you a bit of a secret:

There is No Such Thing As a Super Human

Bam. Bolded. Right in your face.

It’s so easy to point at someone who is truly making things happen and assume they’re out of this world. We joke that they’re mythical creatures, or have gifts from the heavens, (I mean, I’ve totally done that) but somehow, sometime during those jokes, we start to internalize the idea that they’re different, that they must be made of something different than us normal folk.

Like, take for example, one author I’ve really come to admire these days: Victoria Schwab. My Twitter feed is constantly filled with people expressing their (all caps) love for her writing and her books. This lady finished her Master’s Degree, moved and lived in another country for a large portion of the year, wrote three books, and read 104 books in a year. (Yeah I don’t even know.)

Most people (including myself) take a look at those accomplishments and dismiss the idea that they could ever accomplish those goals. It’s impossible, right? So we dismiss the idea and go back to our daily lives, assuming that they’ve somehow managed to reach a level above us that we’ll never make it to.

Here’s the thing: they had to make it happen somehow.

Incredible people are just that- people.

I think we forget sometimes that we all started out the same way. Yes, obviously, people have access to different opportunities and have natural inclinations towards some things, but it’s important to remember that we’re all born as a blank slate.

Even the most famous of successes, from JK Rowling to Jennifer Lawrence (love those two ladies, just sayin’) all had a childhood, had dreams, both unfulfilled and fulfilled, made mistakes, faced failures. Just like us. They too dreamt of accomplishing their secret dreams, and they too had to work at it. They’ve been able to propel themselves to fame.

But before she made a billion dollars and became world renown for a series beloved to so many, JK Rowling still had to sit down in front of the computer, with only an inkling of a novel idea, and gradually let the words pour out of her, with no guarantee she would ever be published. Just like every person out there right now, staring at his or her blinking cursor in Word, wondering if it’s even going to be worth it. The successful people of our time grew up normal, have always been normal, have normal fears and doubts and ambitions.

We’re all just people.

It all comes back to doing the work.

Our lives are painted by our actions: what we choose to do, how we choose to respond to events in our lives, what we make of our emotions and our circumstances. Writers like Neil Gaiman are prolific because they made the choices to put themselves out there, to work on their craft for hours on end, and sure they got lucky sometimes, but they never would have gotten lucky if they weren’t writing in the first place. They chose to create their lives that way, and that’s the difference between us and the most successful people in the world. They did it. That’s how they made the jump from ‘ordinary’ to ‘incredible’.

We are ultimately responsible for our success.

The sooner we internalize that idea, the faster we’ll be able to get on track for our own lives. Even when life throws a terrible wrench in our plans, we can control how we react to that thorn in our side, to that derailed plan.

Blaming other people or saying that famous writers ‘made it’ because they got lucky is only going to hurt us in the end. If we take responsibility, we are enabling ourselves to become successful, whatever that term looks like for you, because now the ball is in our court, not someone else’s. And that means we now have the power to work for our dreams.

We need to re-evaluate our lives.

Instead of waving off those successful, ‘crazy’ hustlers who seem to have it all together, pause, and take a second to really evaluate what they’re doing. What do you like? What do you wish you could do?

Now take a look at your life. What are you doing now? What are the things that take up most of your time? What do you identify yourself as? (A writer, a librarian, a reader, a Netflix binger?). Most importantly: who do you want to become?

Now you have to think about bridging the gap. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but if you want to become a writer who also manages to blog three times a week, then you need to re-order your priorities. Take a look at the successful people and if you can, ask questions. What do they spend their time doing? What are they not doing? Maybe they don’t spend that hour watching Netflix; maybe they write instead. Absorb lessons and knowledge from what your role models are doing, and see what new practices you can implement in your own life.

Always try to learn from other people.

There’s so much knowledge, advice, and wisdom in the way other people are living their lives- and things like, I don’t know, the Internet, allow us to take a peek into other’s lives. Seeing a late night Snapchat of a major hustler is always motivating to me, because it never fails to show me that we are all just people working hard to realize our definition of success. And that success comes from working harder, from jumping to take opportunities, from putting ourselves out there.

We’re throwing away so much potential if we simply assume that we can’t do what other people are doing. Everyone is different, we all have our limitations, but never forget: we are all human.

It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

(Unless you’re some type of supernatural being reading this in the future. Then you have my permission to ignore this post.)

In Conclusion

We put people on a pedestal, pretend they have so many innate qualities that make them successful, when really, success, in the end, comes down to pure hard work. And pure hard work is something any person, seriously, any person is capable of.

Including us.

People are just people, no matter how many books they’ve written or how much money they have sitting in their bank, or how many Twitter followers they have.

So let’s go make those dreams happen, shall we?

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My 2016 Writing Goals

Posted January 2, 2016 by the lovely Aneeqah in General / 4 Comments

Ah, it’s the New Year. I always love the feeling of the new year- it feels like such a fresh start. I’m a very goal oriented person, so while I’m constantly setting new goals for myself, I like to take the new year as a chance to step back and really re-evaluate where I am and where I want to go.

The new year is also typically when I’ll set some more ‘large-scale’ kinds of goals for myself, and then I break those goals down into smaller chunks. In the past, I used to create categories for each part of my life (like blogging, writing, fitness, school, etc), and set at least 5 goals in each section.

You can probably guess what this resulted in: a lot of uncrossed goals.

So I’ve totally rethought everything, and I’m only sticking with a few key goals. More specifically, I want to focus on cultivating habits that will lead to the formation of other habits– something called a keystone habit (side note: reading The Power of Habit right now and it’s totally rocking my world).You guys will definitely be hearing more about habits from me as I try to set up more in my life, because seriously, that book is really changing my views on what a habit is on a fundamental level, and how we use habits in our lives (isn’t it great when a book can be that impactful on your life?! Writer goals, right there).

Without future adieu, I present to you: my goals for 2016!

My 2016 Writing Goals

A Comprehensive List of My Writing Goals

1.) Write 1,000,000 words.

Yes, you read that number correctly: 1 million. A 1 followed by six zeroes (no, I didn’t add too many, although people have already sent me some concerned Tweets).

1 Million = A lot of words, but more manageable than it looks

Yes, a million is a lot of words. It seems like an incredibly huge number, but if you break this mega goal down into chunks, this is what it looks like:

Monthly Required Word Count: 83,334 Words

Weekly Word Count: 19,231 Words

Daily Word Count: 2,740 Words (and I gave myself a day off because there are 366 days in 2016! ;))

I’m actually a pretty fast typer, and if I’m feeling really focused, I can knock out 1,000 words of fiction in 20 minutes. Obviously blog post type content takes me a longer time, but theoretically speaking, it should only take me 2 hours of focused writing max every day (I say this now, and then four hours later, I’ll still be writing, haha) (hopefully not…). 2 hours doing something I love? That’s not too terribly bad.

I’m planning to break it down even more. I want to wake up and spend 30 minutes-1 hour writing in the morning, then write in smaller bursts throughout the day as I tend to my other obligations, and then spend an hour or so writing in the evening to complete my daily word count.

Thinking about it like that, in micro-chunks, the goal itself seems a lot more manageable.

The logistics

In the interest of 100% transparency, I thought I would share with you all what exactly I’m including in my definition of ‘words’.

What’s included: fiction writing (novels, short stories, flash fiction), blog posts, any other writing long form content for social media (Medium, or meaningful/helpful Tumblr posts, forum replies that are answering a question), journaling, client edit letters, newsletters, and school work. Essentially, any writing that is going to help me grow as a writer and editor.

What’s not included: Twitter replies, blog comments, any ‘fun’ forum replies, text messages. Essentially, any writing that is not going to help grow my skills as a writer.

The purpose of this entire challenge is to push myself– so I’m not allowing myself to ‘cheat’ and use purposeless text messages. The writing needs to be meaningful and/or helpful.

It took time to think this through.

Even with that though, I have to admit, I toyed with the idea for a very long time. There were so many doubts: what would I use the words for? Will I even be able to keep up? But the most prominent concern for me was: am I ready for this?

1 million words has always been a faraway dream to me, something I’ve told myself I would attempt when I became a ‘professional’ writer and blogger.

But who’s to say I’m not a professional now?

You are what you do- and if I’m a writer and blogger, then I will do those things. If I want to get better at writing and editing, then I need to do those two very things. It’s why, even though I was a bit hesitant, I decided to issue myself the challenge.

My Habits Now: Inconsistent

I should probably issue a disclaimer here: don’t write super consistently as of now. While yes, I do find myself writing a lot because of school or these lovely blog posts, I don’t have a writing habit set in place. There are days that pass when the only words I type will be on late night Twitter conversations, and then there are others where I write 2,000 words in-between my fiction work and blog posts.

Do I even have the time?

Yes, I am in school 8 hours everyday. Yes, I have a part time job. Yes, I have hours of homework every night. Yes, I have family responsibilities. Yes, I read frequently.

But I also know that I have a lot of wasted time in my day– those 20 minutes endless scrolling session on Twitter add up. If I do that three times a day (which, let me freely admit: I check Twitter way more than three times a day), that’s already an hour of wasted time. Lately, I’ve start to come to fully realize how precious time is, and I want to force myself to start using mine better. Even if it doesn’t seem like I have the time to write so much in a day.

That’s not to diminish the fact that it’s going to be tough to make this happen- believe me, it’s going to be tough to make this happen. I truly believe it’s going to come down to two things: using my time productively and saying no.

Turning the impossible into the accomplishable

A part of me is still incredibly nervous about this goal. Now that I’m publicly announcing it, it seems so more etched in stone than it was previously. But I want this public accountability, so that I can push myself. Writing so much 365 days of the year is no easy feat, but like I said, I want to show both the world and myself that big, crazy dreams are possible to accomplish- if you’re willing to put in the effort, if you’re willing to show up every day.

It’s going to be hard. It’s going to take blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of hand cramps. It’s going to take pushing myself through the worst of days, pushing myself through the days when I would rather slap myself across the face than write, pushing myself through the days when it feels like I have not a word left in my system. It’s going to take everything I’ve got.

Will it be worth it? Yes. I 100% believe it will be. (I’ll let you know for sure on December 31st, though)

So here’s to it, guys. Here’s to the impossible, and the start of something very, very new.

In Conclusion

Yeah, that is my one and only writing goal for the year. Everything else I want to accomplish- writing more blog posts, staying consistent, producing really solid emails for my subscriber list- it all comes down to that daily writing progress. If I’m producing so many words on a daily basis, I have no doubt that my problems with posting consistently are going to disappear, because after all, I’ll need to write more words for a purpose, yes?

So tell me: what are some of your writing goals for 2016? Have you ever set yourself a seemingly impossible goal- how did it turn out? Am I slightly insane for committing to this?

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Using Rewards While Writing to Maximize Your Productivity

Posted November 7, 2015 by the lovely Aneeqah in Productivity / 4 Comments

writing productivity

Sometimes you sit down at the computer and have absolutely 0 motivation to write. There’s a million other things you would rather be doing than writing. Writing feels like the last thing you feel like doing, but you know you still need to write something.

When writing even one sentence feels like pulling teeth, you need something to keep you going. That’s where rewards come into play.

Using Rewards While Writing

Why Should I Use Rewards?

Using a reward, however small or big, is perfect to re-ignite some of the lost motivation you will inevitably suffer while working on a writing project. If your writing something longer, such as a novel, having rewards spaced throughout the project, like having one when you reach a particular milestone during your writing process can keep you moving forward. Having these rewards spread out allows you to reach those milestones faster, because you’re actively working towards a shorter-term goal. That can provide the extra boost you need to knock out what you’re currently working on.

Using rewards breaks your project into more manageable chunks. It’s easier to think “I’ll get to eat some chocolate after I finish each chapter!” than “I’ll reward myself with something after I finish my novel”. We can’t always be motivated by something long-term 100% of the time, and that’s why using rewards are so important in the writing process.

How to Use Rewards

The concept itself is pretty simple. When deciding on how to implement a reward system that’s going to be most effective for you, make sure you consider a few things:

  • The reward should be pre-determined and specific. If you allow yourself ‘a break’ after writing a certain number of words, then that break could extend into hours. To keep yourself focused, keep your reward specific.
  • The goal should be specific. It’s similar to what I mentioned above. If you don’t define the point at which you receive a reward, i.e., “I can take a Twitter break after I’ve written 500 words”, then you’ll find yourself slacking and clicking on that Twitter icon before you’ve reached your goal. Having a specific goal also allows for an incredible amount of clarity. You’re laser-focused on just completing those 500 words so you can get that reward.

Having specificity allows you to be more focused, and more in control of your writing life. If you don’t define what you’re working towards and what your reward will be, then it’s far too easy to veer of course. There’s always the lure of a distraction, or simply caving to your want of checking social media just one more time (or that bag of Halloween candy hidden in the pantry) but having a smaller, more mangeable goal with a reward dangling in front of you gives you the extra push.

Examples & Ideas

Here are some ideas for specific, smaller, and more manageable goals you can use with rewards:

  • “I will write 500/1,000/set amount of words”
  • “I will complete a 2o minute writing sprint”
  • “I will complete one scene”
  • “I will complete one chapter”
  • “I will sprint to 1,000 words”

Note that all of these numbers can be changed to fit your personal needs. Every writer works at a different pace, and writing speed is affected by a million factors, like your typing speed, where you are in the story, what your surroundings are, etc. Regardless, you can adapt these, but make sure you’re setting realistic but challenging goals. You want to push yourself as a writer, and continue to challenge yourself. That’s the only way you’ll grow as a writer. Plus, slowly upping the amount you have to work per mini-session will eventually increase your writing ‘endurance’, the amount you’re able to write while staying completely focused.

Here are some ideas for effective rewards. After finishing a mini-session, you can:

  • Eat a small piece of candy
  • Take a Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr/social media break for 5 minutes
  • Read an article you’ve been saving
  • Read a blog post
  • Read a few pages of a book you’re reading
  • Find some new music
  • Watch a short Youtube video
  • Have a short conversation with a friend

Basically, to come up with the perfect reward for you, ask yourself: If I wasn’t writing, what would I rather be doing? Maybe you’re craving some chocolate or want a small bag of Skittles (my love for Skittles knows no ends). Perfect, that’s what you can use for a small reward. Maybe you want to watch a new TV show episode. You can use that as a reward after a longer writing session, after you’ve finished today’s writing goal, perhaps. If you’re incredibly tired, let yourself take a short power nap after you reach your goal. (And let’s face it, everyone loves naps and could use a little more sleep!).

By taking what you most directly want right now, you’ll allow yourself to be extra motivated, since you’re working towards something you really want. That gives you the boost you need, and you’ll find yourself with a lot of words written and a reward for you to enjoy.

Keep in mind it’s important to scale the rewards and the goals. You can’t consistently have a huge reward, like a 45 minute TV show, if you only write for 5 minutes. Of course, if you’re having a particularly bad day, it’s better that you write a little than just go straight to the next episode of Teen Wolf (which I get it, it’s a great show). But if you give yourself enormous rewards with little work to show consistently, then you’re simply not going to be writing as much as you hope.

If you need to, build up that writing endurance. Increase your goal in small chunks while keeping the same goal. Instead of eating candy after a 5 minute sprint, do it after a 10 minute sprint. In a few weeks, you’ll find yourself able to focus for longer with the same reward. You just need to build up to it.

In conclusion

Rewards can be an incredibly effective tool while you’re writing. If you tailor them to your current writing situation and what exactly it is that you want, you’ll find your writing productivity increase enormously. The focus and motivation that rewards provide is incredible.

Even if you aren’t feeling motivated, keep writing. Throw in a reward, and after a few sessions, you’ll begin to find that the motivation and excitement you once had for your project will come back after you get back into the writing groove. Rewards can help you get that passion back, and keep you moving forward.

Have you ever used rewards while writing? What kinds of things do you use as a reward? Any questions about this writing trick? Let me know!

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Getting the Most Out of Writing Forums

Posted October 24, 2015 by the lovely Aneeqah in Online Presence / 0 Comments

Writing forums

It’s no secret: I love writing forums.

I have perused countless sites, created numerous accounts to said sites, and spent hours poring over resources.

Writing forums, like Absolute Write or even the NaNoWriMo site, can be fantastic resources, but if you want to get a lot of value out of them, it’s going to take a little work. I’m sharing a few tips on how to really utilize these forums!

How to Get the Most Out of Writing Forums

1.) Reply to Threads

After jumping in to a new site, the easiest thing to do is to scroll endlessly through various conversations, absorbing things, but never commenting. It seems like you’re getting a lot out of the experience, which you truly may be, but if you want to really get a lot out of a site, then you need to reply to existing threads.

Having to type up a coherent response to an idea, whether it be really solid advice or a debate about whether to use ‘there’ or ‘their’ (these kinds of things actually happen, shockingly), will force you to articulate your ideas. Even if your response is to a seemingly non-relevant topic, the very act of responding will force you to rethink your ideas about the topic, and overall, help you become a better writer. And that’s why we’re all in this, right?

Additionally, replying to threads can get a conversation going, which can lead to amazing connection down the road. Even if they don’t, you’ll be participating in a dialogue that could potentially spark a new revelation for you. Really, you never know what you’ll end up using in your writing, so discussion is only going to be helpful to your creativity in general.

Plus, talking to people can be fun.

2.) Ask Questions

This is probably one of the most beneficial aspects to a writing forum. Sometimes you’re stuck with how to increase your writing productivity or how to focus better while writing. Or, other times, you need some ideas for your next scene. Whatever the case is, getting feedback and answers from other people will provide a lot of clarity for you. Sometimes, you’ll get a response that you never would have thought of before, which could lead to some awesome conversations, again, deepening connections with other people. It could also help you with your writing, whether it be a particular scene, or the rest of your novel.You never know what kinds of responses you’ll get, so don’t be afraid to ask any question, even if it’s a noob question. Sometimes the easiest questions lead to the best of revelations.

3.) Answer Other People’s Questions

This option is my personal favorite. If you don’t have any pressing questions you want to present to a forum, then go off and answer some other peoples’. The benefits of this are enormous.

The major benefit is that you’ll be establishing yourself as an authority. If you contribute to enough questions with valuable advice, people will truly see you as someone who knows what they’re doing. You have the opportunity to build connections that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make. If you have a website, leave it in your signature, and people will start trickling over there, to check out more about this expert they’ve seen around the forums.

Additionally, if you’re consistently providing a lot of value, people will be more inclined to help you. If someone does something nice for you, the instant reaction is to want to do something for them in return. It’s the whole mentality behind swapping compliments. If someone goes out of their way to tell you they like your shirt, you will immediately want to respond with “Oh, thank you, I love your pants!”. Humans are pretty nice like that. You never know what kind of bind you might find yourself in later on, and having people enthusiastically respond because you’ve helped them will garner a lot of benefits for you. It’s a win-win for both parties involved.

Finally, answering other people’s questions just makes you feel good. You can’t ignore that factor. Be a good person, and that good karma will find you later.

4.) Don’t be Afraid of Private Messaging

So, you’ve been responding to threads and interacting with people. You’re getting a lot out of your conversations. So many people are afraid of taking the next logical step, which is to take things to a more personalized conversation via direct messaging. Almost all forums have the option of messaging someone privately, so take the leap, and send a message to someone. This will allow you to carry your conversations to a deeper level, ensuring both of you are getting more value than if you were posting all of your thoughts publicly. Plus, you can get to know the person better, which can lead to future connections. Many writers have found their beta readers or writing groups from online forums, but they way to solidify relationships like these are to truly connect with people. And you can’t really have that without deepening the connection.

5.) Make Sure to Actually Interact

It can be far too easy to browse the forums for hours, without typing a single word. We’re used to scrolling mindlessly through our feeds, but you’re simply not going to get as much out of them if you’re not participating. It can be hard to break that habit, so I encourage you to set a particular goal whenever you log onto a forum. It can be anything from “I’m going to start a new thread!” or “I’m going to leave at least 5 replies before I log off”. Having small goals like this will ensure hours don’t fly by without you interacting at all. After all, you want to make sure you’re maximizing your time, and you can’t do that if you’re not trying to interact with others.

In conclusion

Writing forums are all about creating connections. In the end, you never know what you might get out of a connection with another person. Simply put, if you want to get a lot of value out of these online sites, you need to be interacting, whether it be through answering questions, participating in a discussion, or asking your own questions. It may take time, but you’ll be surprised by how much you learn from a writing community- but that’s only going to come if you give too.

Do you participate in any writing forums? How do you ensure you’re getting the most out of them? Are you considering joining any? Let me know!

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6 Reasons to Participate in NaNoWriMo

Posted October 21, 2015 by the lovely Aneeqah in Uncategorized / 0 Comments

November has become one of my favorite months of the year.

No, it’s not because I get to consume an inordinate amount of mashed potatoes during Thanksgiving (though I do have a deep-rooted passion for mashed potatoes). November is when NaNoWriMo occurs, or National Novel Writing Month.

For those of you who aren’t aware, NaNoWriMo (or NaNo for short) is a challenge in which you aim to write 50,000 words in a month. It’s craziness, but the awesome kind of craziness, and tens of thousands of people have participated in the challenge since its inception over a decade ago.

If 50,000 words seems a bit daunting to you, don’t worry, because that’s how everyone feels. Even with such a formidable challenge, I always end up having an amazing time during NaNo (I’ve participated for the past 3 years).

So, to convince you wary writers (or get those of you who have signed up even more pumped!) I’m sharing a list of reasons as to why you should participate in NaNoWriMo this year.

Why You Absolutely Must Participate in NaNoWriMo

1.) It forces you to make time.

The number one excuse I hear from people who don’t participate in NaNo even though they ‘want’ to is that they don’t have time. They’re too busy with school, or a job, or family, or a combination of other factors.

They’re absolutely right: nobody has time. You have to create time.

That’s not to say the above excuses aren’t legitimate. Sometimes you really do have to buckle down and focus on school or work. But every single person has a little bit of extra time that goes unused. Everyone. Nobody works 100% of the time- or we would be robots. It’s just that this time is often dispersed throughout our day.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need a solid block of free time. So many people look at their schedules and can’t find an extra hour or two of free time, which is logical, because most of us are busy people trying to manage multiple responsibilities. However, you would be surprised by how much you can write during a ten minute break, or on a 20 minute bus ride. Since you know you won’t have a lot of time to write, you’re forced to maximize the time you do have.

We typically fill the pockets of our free time with something random- Twitter, scrolling through old text messages, or just staring at the wall. Instead, by participating in NaNoWriMo, you’ll learn how to maximize that time and really utilize it well. That is a habit you’ll want to keep even after November.

2.) It helps you learn to prioritize.

Pretty much everyone these days has an endless to-do list. My Wunderlist app is overflowing with tasks and the things I need to accomplish some day. It can be hard to decide what thing should get done first, and when.

Here’s the thing about NaNoWriMo: it forces you to prioritize what’s most important. Writing 1,667 words a day is no easy feat, and it requires anywhere from 1-2 hours, depending on various factors. Therefore, you’re really going to have to be picky about what you choose to do. Instead of procrastinating and watching some Netflix at work for example, you’ll want to finish up and try to get some extra time to write. That’s going to help you be efficient in all parts of your life, and you’ll really start to learn what’s important and what’s not.

3.) The community is extremely supporting & motivating.

It’s so, so important to have a good group of people around you. The community you surround yourself with determines your attitude a lot of the time. If you’re with a group of people who are just going for their goals without any reservations, you’re going to want to do that too. But if you’re with a group of people who don’t believe in themselves, you’re going to begin to feel that doubt as well.

That’s why a good community is so important: you begin to adopt the community’s mindset. The NaNoWriMo forums are filled with people who are trying to accomplish the same crazy goal as you. Everyone is facing challenges, and they’re working together to overcome them. Being around those kinds of people- even if you don’t interact at all- is incredibly motivating.

And if you do find yourself at a roadblock, like if you have a thorny plot issue or you have fallen behind, you can simply post on the forums and get immediate responses. Since everyone is in the challenge together, pretty much everyone on the forums is supportive. It’s a win-win either way.

4.) You’re going to challenge yourself.

We can fall into the same monotonous routine so easily. Wake up, go to work or school, come home, do housework/spend time with the family/homework, and go to sleep. What’s the challenge in that? Where’s the excitement?

Life isn’t meant to be spent doing things the easy way. If you want to grow as a writer, or even as a human being in general, then you’re going to have to challenge yourself. Breaking out of your typical routine is not only going to make life more interesting for you, but you’re going to be stretching yourself past what you thought were your limits. You will surprise yourself by just how much you can write, and how productive you can be just by pushing yourself.

5.) It gives you a hard deadline.

Typically, writers don’t have a firm deadline for their writing in place. So much of writing is about self-accountability, yet that’s what most people lack.

NaNoWriMo provides the perfect combination of public and personal accountability. By having a firm deadline- November 30th- with a firm goal- 50,000+ words- you’re forced to be accountable to the world. That little word count tracker on the NaNo website is shockingly motivating, especially when you’re far behind everyone else. Additionally, when you accomplish such a large goal, you’ll be motivated to continue in the future, and you can hold yourself accountable without the public support of NaNo (although it’s always a good idea to find support elsewhere).

Along with the idea of accountability, hard deadlines force you to be more creative. It’s no secret that when more constraints are put on a person, the more creative they’re forced to be. When you know you have to finish today’s word count in the next 10 minutes, you can so much more easily untangle a tricky plot hole than if you had all the time in the world. A deadline may make you feel like you have less options, but that’s exactly why you will be forced to innovate.

6.) You end up with 50,000 words you didn’t have before.

At the end of the day, NaNoWriMo forces you to write. So many writers forget the one thing that makes them writers: the physical act of writing. We can get caught up far too easily in planning or social media or thinking about the movie cast for our currently unwritten novel. It’s hard to just sit down and write.

Even if those words aren’t beautiful, lyrical prose, they give you something. You can fix something. You can make something better. You can’t do that with nothing.

In conclusion

Take the leap. It may seem daunting, it may seem impossible, but you are going to have an incredible experience if you decide to participate in NaNoWriMo. There will be challenges, but you will only grow as you learn to accomplish them, and that kind of personal growth is priceless.

So tell me: are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Are you excited? Make sure to add me (I’m hianeeqah) if you are. If you’re still worried about participating, shoot me an email or send me a Tweet and we can talk through it!

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8 Ways to Stay Focused While Writing

Posted October 10, 2015 by the lovely Aneeqah in Productivity / 0 Comments

Have you ever worked incredibly hard to carve out some time to sit down and just write? You’re so excited that you finally have this time, but when you sit down at the computer, tea steaming next to you, you want to check Twitter really quickly. Then Facebook. Then you have to read that article. 30 minutes later, you finally pull yourself back to the Word document. But even as you painstakingly start to write, you can’t seem to stay focused on the story. What about that one subtweet that that author Tweeted? Or that article you were halfway through reading? All these thoughts are cluttering your mind.

Sound familiar?

I can’t even describe to you how many times the above situation has happened to me. In an increasingly digitized world, it can be difficult to find time. So when you do sit down to write, you want to maximize your time. I’m going to be sharing some tips to do exactly that.

How to Stay Focused While Writing: A List

1.) Turn off your notifications.

This one is especially critical if you write on a computer that has pop-up notifications. I’m lucky enough to be using a Macbook, but because of that, I have my text message and Twitter notifications hooked up to the laptop. Every time I get a new message, there’s a little irresistable “ding” that notifies me. This immediately interrupts my focus, and I find that all my thoughts are scattered. Even if I don’t respond, just the fact that I was interrupted and broken out of my flow can make it so difficult to get back into the groove.

The easiest fix to this kind of interruption is to temporarily (or permanently!) turn off this notifications. On your phone, you can simply turn on ‘Airplane Mode’ or switch on ‘Do Not Disturb’ to prevent any notifications whatsoever. If you’re worried about missing an important call from someone, there is a special setting for ‘Do Not Disturb’ that you can configure that will let through a call from a certain person. So, you can feel comfortable that people will be able to reach you in an emergency. On a computer, you should be able to go to your specific social media sites and choose to turn off notifications. There are also some excellent web blockers out there.

2.) Work in one window on your computer.

I am notorious for opening multiple tabs on my laptop. I open up my computer and within five minutes I have at least 10 tabs open (I wish I was exaggerating…). Tabs like Twitter or Tumblr that show the number of new notifications I have missed in the tab itself are especially distracting. I mean, how can you focus if there could be the possibility there’s a new a Tweet?

But here comes the problem: switching over to that tab can quickly lead to a spiral into the Internet Black Hole, which will botch any productive writing session.

So, to avoid any potential Black Holes, just open up a new window. You don’t even have to close all of your tabs, simply open up a new window with only your text editor. You can also choose to go full screen on Scrivener or just use Word. Even if you’re a paper writer, make sure you’re using a fresh sheet of paper, and that your desk is clear. De-cluttering what’s in front of you and taking out those distractions will give you some peace of mind. That’s going to do wonders for your focus.

3.) Turn off your Internet.

Hey, drastic times call for drastic measures. If you’re really having issues with avoiding the lure of the Internet, just turn it off. Sometimes it’s just too difficult to keep your mind off what’s happening in the land of the Interwebz if there’s the possibility you could go check a social media site with just one click.

Completely eliminate that potential by turning off your Internet. You can do that by going in manually and disconnecting your Internet connection. Many computers come with a switch that can easily turn off the wifi, so you don’t have to go through the process of disconnecting and reconnecting. Whatever it is, sometimes completely getting rid of a distraction is going to provide the most clarity so you can just work.

4.) Set a Pomodoro Timer.

I use this technique often when I’m doing homework or writing. Sometimes it feels impossible to sit down and write for an hour straight, like you’ve planned. Setting a period of time to work somehow makes the time feel like it’s passing by faster, and a set time  makes it so much easier to focus, because you know you’ll be getting a break soon.

If you haven’t heard, the Pomodoro Technique consists of using a timer to work in 20 minute chunks, followed by a 5 minute break. After four of these cycles, you allow yourself a longer, 20-30 minute break. It allows for maximum productivity, and can be incredibly motivating.

5.) Have something to look forward to.

Sometimes, the idea of having more words or a break in the future just isn’t motivating enough. After all, wouldn’t be easier to go do something else rather than actually write? That can quickly lead to wandering thoughts, and so you want to set an immediate goal to keep you going.

The best way to come up with a suitable technique when you’re just not feeling motivated and focused is to ask yourself: what do I want right now? Candy? Some Twitter time? Another chapter of that amazing book you’re reading? A nap? Whatever it is, write it down. Then set that timer, and tell yourself after time runs out (or you reach a certain number of words), you get to have whatever it is you want. Having a small goal will give you that drive to really buckle down and knock out some words.

6.) Enlist a friend or family member.

I live in a pretty noisy house, with a lot of people running around constantly. Instead of attempting to ignore them all the time, I try to get them to help me out. I tell them to make sure I’m writing and not browsing feeds or staring into space or constantly deleting words and not making any real progress. That way, I can still involve my family in what I’m doing and make progress at the same time.

If you’re trying to stay off a certain website, just send out a message of something like “I’m trying to write 1000 words today. If you see me on here before I make that goal, tell me to get off!!”. Most people are more than happy to make sure they don’t see you pop up in their feed. It can be fun to get other people involved and also be publicly accountable. You’ll be surprised by how many people will ask “So, how many words did you write?”. It’s the perfect way to stay focused, involve other people, and create a great conversation for later. Win win win.

7.) Build a routine.

This is a long-term goal that is going to be incredibly, incredibly useful for you later. Routines condition the mind to get into writing mode without having to do anything besides what you did the day before. They allow you to get into a certain zone, so that you’re able to 100% focus.

Start out simple. Choose a time or a place to start writing, i.e., “I’m going to write every day after dinner.” After you get into the habit, after dinner, you’ll immediately find yourself thinking about writing and walking to the computer without any conscious thought. It’s definitely going to take up more time to implement, but after you get used to it, it’s going to allow you to maximize that writing time.

8.) Just write 100 words.

We all have those days. You’ve tried absolutely everything to stay focused, but your mind keeps wandering to other things.

It’s okay. Just write 100 words. That’s it. You can probably do that in 5 to 10 minutes. After that, if you feel yourself starting to get into the flow, keep going. If you’re still feeling sluggish, trying taking a break and coming back to it later. Sometimes we really do need some time away (and a nap, seriously) to rest and recharge, and come back to writing with newfound vigor.

In conclusion

There are numerous ways you can try to stay focused while writing, most of which include getting rid of distractions and having some accountability. It can be hard, but the more you condition yourself to staying focused, the easier that focus will come.

And the days you just can’t do it, don’t beat yourself up! You’re human. It’s okay.

But most days, you have to stick it through. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it.

Have you ever had trouble focusing while you’re writing? What are some things you do to try and regain focus? Will you be implementing any of the tips I’ve shared? Let me know!

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How to Create More Writing Time: Say No

Posted September 26, 2015 by the lovely Aneeqah in Uncategorized / 1 Comment

I feel like every week has become ‘one of those weeks’. The super busy, ‘trying to find time to pack everything in’ kinds of weeks. A lot of us writers don’t really have the pleasure of being able to write full time. We have jobs, or school, or people to spend time with, and other obligations that stack up precariously and threaten to fall if the status-quo is disturbed. It’s why so many people dream about writing a novel ‘someday’. It’s why these same people never really will get around to writing a novel, unless they make a focused change.

Here’s the thing: there will never be time to write unless you create that time. 

Clearly, that’s harder said than done, but there’s one thing I’ve done recently that has given me so much of my time back. Even though I’m still busy, I can more easily carve out time to write. How did I do it? I said no. 

Too many activities

It’s so easy to say yes to one thing or another. “Sure, I can help you with your homework!”, or “of course I can go to that party or the movies!”. But the problem is things start to add up too quickly. One yes can become a commitment you never intended to make. 

For me, that commitment was debate. I was a nervous freshman looking for a new group of friends, and since I liked to talk and argue, I decided to join debate.

It turned into an enormous commitment. I kept agreeing to doing just one more tournament, but I would spend weekend after weekend scrambling to finish speeches and driving an hour away to tournaments. The time I spent on debate was monumental. I’m absolutely not saying that I regret the three years I was a part of the organization, since I did gain so many excellent research and speaking skills. But the time commitment just became too much.

Debate had become a part of me, though. How could I let go of something that was a part of my identity?

A difficult decision to make

However, as I realized, it’s so important to let go of things now to pursue something else that will produce results in the future. In my case, that was writing. I couldn’t even imagine all the extra writing I would get done with so much of my time freed up.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Saying no is never easy. But sometimes it can be so, so necessary. We cling to the things we love, to the things that have become a part of our routine. Change is difficult, but if we writers want to make the time for our craft, something has to go.

It can feel like you’re sacrificing something, or that you’re missing out on something (FOMO, anyone?). Like, maybe that party could have been fun. Or that one show that does seem kind of interesting. But ultimately, it comes down to what you want more. It’s always important to do things to help you relax and things to fully enjoy life, but if you want to write more, you have to do less of something else.

It’s hard. Of course. Let me give you a tangible example: you say no to a TV show that takes up an hour of your life every week. Not too bad, right? If you can write 1,000 words in an hour (easily doable for most people!), that adds up to 52,000 additional words a year. A few extra thousand words, and that’s around the size of your average young adult novel. All those words from an extra hour in your week. 

We underestimate the power of time sometimes. We underestimate the value of our time. But if you want to regain some time and write more to achieve your various writing goals, saying no is going to be essential.

A re-examination of your time

So, you’re convinced you want to do more with your time. You’re ready to say no. There are a few steps you can take in order to clear some time in your schedule.

  1. Make a list of your regular commitments. Take stock of what you typically do in a week. If you need to, do a time audit and see where that time is going (the results can be surprising! Like, did I really just spend an hour of my life aimlessly scrolling through my Twitter feed?).
  2. Look at what you do. What activities are absolutely necessary? What are things that you genuinely enjoy? Those are the things that stay on the list.
  3. Examine what you have left. Are these commitments adding anything of real value to your life? If not, then strike them off. Find a way to say no, whether it be through a kind text message to a friend telling them you can’t meet up with them super frequently anymore, or blocking Netflix on your laptop for a certain time of the day.
  4. Schedule in writing time when you previously had said activities.
  5. If other non-important things come up during your scheduled writing time, say no.
  6. Become a writing boss who now has time to write on a regular basis.

Boom.

So, in conclusion

  1. Say no.
  2. Write more.

So much harder said than done- trust me, I’ve been through the entire process. But if you really do want to write, you’re going to have to make the time.

Have you been struggling to find the time to write? Any activities you’re thinking of saying no to? Let me know!

*If you need help with finding more time in your specific schedule, I’m here to help! Tweet me, email me, or leave a comment below.

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Perfect Isn’t the Name of the Game

Posted September 19, 2015 by the lovely Aneeqah in Drafting / 2 Comments

Perfectionism

perfectionism in writing

Perfectionism can be kind of a paralyzing thing.

We writers are so passionate about our words, our craft, our plots, and especially our characters. It can be so easy to whip up new ideas when you’re in that creative state of mind, when the ideas are flowing, and you’re brainstorming new subplots and characters left and right.

The real problem, however, comes when it’s time to translate those thoughts into actual words. Suddenly the world we created in our minds starts to go askew, and things don’t come out right. Nothing goes right, in fact.

That’s the difficulty in writing: being able to articulate those beautiful, precious ideas we have stored up in our minds, and putting them into tangible words.

This is where perfectionism truly starts to become an issue. Because so many of us writers have it all ‘right’ in our heads, it seems impossible to produce anything but that perfect vision of the story we have. Whenever I’m writing- fiction or otherwise- I want it to go down on the paper exactly as I pictured things. The characters need to have personality, the plot needs to be substaintive, and the world-building needs to be impeccable. Otherwise, no one will read our work, right?

Here’s the thing though: nobody will read your first draft. Except for you, and maybe someone who’s looking at your work for you. It’s so, so important to internalize that concept though. It’s easy for us to listen to other people say “rough drafts aren’t perfect! Keep going!” and nod our heads, but we all think it’s going to be different with our stories. Our story is perfect, unlike everybody else’s.

And each story most definitely is unique, and special. There’s no doubt about that. But writers have experienced the same issues, and will continue to do so for however long writing is going to be around (which, spoiler alert, is going to be forever). There is a similarity in the struggle that you have to embrace, that you have to accept, so that you can move on and make your story absolutely amazing.

 

How to Get Rid of Perfectionism While Writing: A List

  1. Start writing.
  2. Keep writing.

It’s that easy. And that difficult.

The problem with perfectionism is that it makes you second-guess every single word that you type. My writing process, when I’m struggling with perfectionism, will often go something like this:

  • Type a word.
  • Stare at word for a few moments.
  • Decide it’s not right.
  • Delete word.
  • Repeat process for x amount of times.

Do you see the problem with a process like this? It’s far too time consuming. The whole point of writing is to tell a story. Sure, words are the building blocks of that story, but the very essence of the story is the characters. The plot. The emotion. Those are the building blocks you need. From there, everything else can be fixed, added, and enhanced. But without that base, nothing will happen. You won’t be able to get into any of the future stages, or start writing that sequel, or attend the premiere of your novel-turned-movie until you get the first draft down, no matter what shape it’s in. You have to be okay with putting words down, even if they’re mediocre, to get the flow of the story. After that, improvements can be made. But not before a first draft is written.

It’s scary, but creating something amazing always is.

 

Why Writing is Never Perfect Anyways

Think back to the last time you read a book and thought it was absolute perfection. 

Some of you may not have any book that you think is absolutely flawless (being a book reviewer or a voracious reader can do that to you), but even if you do, not everyone thinks the same way as you. Writing can be incredibly subjective, since it’s so personal and based on emotions and building connections with characters.

That’s precisely why you will never see ‘perfect’ as a core word when talking about writing or books. We talk about writing in terms of how raw it is, how it makes us feel, using words like “emotional”, “vivid”, “captivating”- but not perfect. It’s inherently impossible for a book to be perfect, because there is not a set definition of what a book or any sort of writing should be like. That’s the beauty of writing: it can be anything and everything- but perfect.

Let that idea free you. Get the draft on paper. Let the words flow. If you’re worried about not being good enough, write anyways. The only way you can get better is by writing.

Perfect isn’t the name of the game, not in writing.

Pen on paper. Fingers on keyboard.

Do you struggle with perfectionism, with writing or otherwise? Do you find it hard to start something because you want it to be ‘just right’? Any other tips on overcoming the desire to have everything be perfect? Let me know!

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