We’ve all been there. That one moment when we’re on the verge of quitting writing because of self-doubt, too time consuming, or simply because we’re lost in our path before us and we don’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel just yet. This no doubt has happened to each and every one of us at one time or another. The struggle is real and in no other medium is that more real than in writing.
To place this in easier terms, let’s take weight lifting as an example since a lifter’s struggle is akin to the struggle we authors face. A lifter, like an author, must always continue to train his muscles in order to maintain his strength and over time gain more muscle. Likewise this same notion can be said about writing. A writer must train his skills constantly so like the lifter he/she doesn’t lose that level of skill that they currently possess. Training these skills constantly is highly essential for any writer as it is these skills and level of writing that will be reflected upon your work when it is published.
So how do you go about the process of maintaining focus even when circumstances arise through your everyday life?
One way is to adapt no matter the circumstances that arise. Example, let’s say you are going to the club for a night out. One could say, “Oh I’m going to be with my friends or colleagues and I’m not going to be able to do any writing because of that.” but that is merely an illusion in itself. True, most of your focus will be on fixated upon having a good time and spending valuable moments with your friends and family, but in every given situation there is always a downtime, a time zero when the group either goes silent or distant from one another or the group is either dispersed throughout the vicinity of the location all doing their own thing.
It is within these moments and windows of opportunity when one has the power to hone one’s skill either by reading, working on your outline or brainstorming sessions in a note-taking app, or even go as far as editing/writing some more of your current work using Google docs or any other app to which your work is uploaded. Granted, you probably won’t achieve much. You may write a sentence or two at most because your mind is not in the mentality or location to write, but writing one or two sentences everyday is way better than imposing excuses to write and not writing anything at all because of them. Those two sentences that you write plays a major part in honing your skills and fortitude in the long run and can serve as a goal post when it comes to writing.
But how exactly can writing only two sentences strengthen your skill?
One word explains everything that needs to be explained in this aspect: discipline. Let’s go back to the previous example about the lifter that wants to gain strength. Reiterating the fact that a lifter is like an author in so many ways, consistency is key when achieving one’s ultimate goal of gaining strength over time. No matter if a lifter is unable to do everything that’s been predetermined in his workout regimen or not, he/she will have nothing to lose and everything to gain if they are unable to complete the entire workout one or two days of the week instead going for a shorter more compacted workout. On the other hand if they give in to their formulated excuses for not being able to do their entire workout for those one or two days that they are busy and don’t do any of it, it eventually becomes a habit. A habit in that sense is terrible. You’re going for the worse and eventually you will find yourself always searching for excuses to not do what you’re supposed to do.
So how do you prevent yourself from falling into temptations exactly?
Simple. Maintain a consistent schedule that is doable based on the time you have at hand with simple yet achievable goals, but also impose a minimum requirement upon yourself. Your goals should be up there ready to be attained every day, but when life arises impose the minimum requirement instead. Instead of saying “I’m so busy. I don’t think I’m going to be able to write today.” train yourself to say “Ok I’m not going to be able to reach my ultimate writing goal today, but let’s find the time to write those two sentences at least.” On paper, it seems like it doesn’t surmount to much, but in reality you’re learning to develop discipline over yourself when it comes to your craft. Instead of making excuses to not write, you’re searching for the moment to reach your minimum writing goal of the day.
Without even knowing it, you’re imposing of this minimum goal when you know you won’t reach your ultimate goal is creating discipline for you and with it, the augmentation of skill and eventual mastery of your craft over time. So go on, set your goals straight and impose that minimum requirement so that discipline can be attained. It won’t come overnight, but eventually I guarantee discipline will come.
This takes us to the next mountain that a writer must surpass in order to keep writing: self-doubt.
Sooner or later every writer is going to be bombarded by it some way or another either by reading someone else’s manuscript or even by just reading a book. In our minds oftentimes we compare our unfinished work with finished work and we pound ourselves for not being as competent as other writers. Oftentimes we relay the fact that our writing does not sound as good as the other person’s or that you’re never going to be as good as that person at writing, but this is in no way true. Every writer is different and every writer has their own way of going about things and this is one of the most important things to remember when discussing this.
A manuscript that may sound golden and flawless to you may sound broken and unfinished to someone else with the same likes as yourself. Likewise, your own personal manuscript may sound imperfect and flawed, but when someone else reads it, it may be the best they’ve ever read. Personal taste breaks generations. Always.
So how do you get over this sensation of self doubt?? Well for one stop comparing yourself to other writers. You’re NEVER going to write like them because you’re not them. They have their own unique style and way of writing that separates them from the world and you have yours! Instead of being like other writers, separate yourself. Formulate your own unique twist and style.
The other aspect of self doubt comes from the negativity within oneself. Negativity has and always will be bad in everything not just writing. The only way to defeat this is to oppose it. Instead of imposing negatively upon your writing, current situation, or whatever else is preventing your progress through your writing, train yourself to see the positive side of everything. This will help you progress through this negativity phase well, but support is the best cure. Socialize with other authors. Learn about their struggles and you’ll see that they face the same dilemma as yourself. Inspire one another and learn to pick only those people that up bring you, not drag you down. Rid yourself of negativity in your life and your self-doubt will go flying out the window.
This takes us to the final struggle an author may encounter that leads them to stop writing: Not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Writing is a tedious task that takes much effort by oneself but if one sticks to the previous mentioned tactics to erase self doubt, this will not happen especially with good support from fellow authors who are trudging through the same hardships as you. So go on, socialize, make friends, erase negativity, and always impose that minimum goal requirement upon yourself so the pen can never stop writing!
A weight lifter, yoga and martial arts practitioner, runner, and an aspiring author, Adrian is currently working on his first action novel in a series of 9-10 books that he plans on publishing. When he's not writing or working out, he can be found playing video games and reading.
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