Yesterday I wanted to give up.
The flow I was in with my writing had become a battle and I started feeling like a fraud.
Who was I to coach others on writing when my fingers were stuck in cement? I wasn’t finishing my writing projects and my blog was felt like a rock in my shoe I was just too lazy to shake out.
Until I remembered why I want to write. I want to write because I do it well, it stops the insanity in my head for a while, and brings me some peace and clarity. Like most writers, I also write for the dream of seeing my name on the NY TIMES Bestsellers list one day. Oh, and money – for the money, JK Rowling style.
A favorite actor of mine said,
“The only good reason to have money is this: so that you can tell any SOB in the world to go to hell”. Humphrey Bogart
I must confess that one of the reasons behind my perseverance in writing is because while I love writing for the journey, I have some people I would love to tell where to go. In my fantasies, my writing will bring me monetary success so that I can do that.
Y’know like “ F** off, my book is on the New York Times Best Seller List”.
Wow – that was not what this post was supposed to be about.
I was going to make this post about how I lost my obsession with writing when I slipped on the ice this winter, and fractured my elbow and tore ligaments in my shoulder.
I developed some unhealthy habits because I could not write, and when I don’t write I go a little nuts.
Without writing here’s what I did -
I spent my time:
- Addicted to the iPhone
- Laying on the couch popping pain meds non-stop
- Watching too much on Netflix
- Not getting enough sleep
- Telling myself the kids need me. All. The. Time. (they don’t)
- Cooking for the family. I mean, thinking about it. (I don’t like to cook)
- Bemoaning that my writing arm was in a sling and I was in so much pain.
Then slowly I started healing. Yet, I still was not writing. My bad habits had taken hold of me.
- B**tching about money. Again.
- Rolling around in the ‘not enough’ swamp.
There was not enough:
- boots. (I love boots.)
I decided to quit thinking about writing and just give up and sit in the kitchen watching the eggs boil.
The eggs boiled and I realized that everything takes time. 20 min for eggs to boil. A lifetime to work through everything else. It takes time to come back to the writing page after having been gone for a while.
I went to what I call the center of my soul: my bookshelf. I pulled out a book by Steven Chandler on Time Management called “Time Warrior”, and a book by Steven Pressfield called “Turning Pro”.
I went to the swimming pool, sat at the end of the diving board and poked around the time management book. A few pokes was all it took for me to take on the energy of the book, the urgency to get focused and be responsible for my time.
I made the decision to read Turning Pro from cover to cover without budging. I did, right then and there while sitting on the diving board. Drenched in sweat and sunburned, I felt alive again.
I was back in the game of doing what I love: Writing and inspiring others to write.
Here are 31 things to stop doing so you will start writing.
STOP Doing these 31 things:
1) Stop waiting for the perfect time. The perfect time is now. Right now.
2) Stop waiting to have more money. Writing when you’re hungry has a lot of power, and while I wouldn’t choose it, if it happens, use your hunger in your writing.
3) Stop wanting to be successful in your current business/career first. One thing has nothing to do with the other. You can write while you’re working: Evenings, lunch hour, early morning, weekends.
4) Stop wanting permission from someone. Skip this. Just give yourself permission – that’s all that really matters.
5) Stop being afraid of your power. You may not realize it, yet acknowledging that you are a powerful person that can be powerful with your words is scary. You are powerful. It’s OK to take that in.
6) Stop distracting yourself. The world is full of distractions for everyone. People that are successful are able to ignore distractions and focus. Just start with short periods of time. Can you sit, writing, undistracted for five minutes?
7) Stop hiding from your demons. They’re everywhere: In your dreams, your thoughts, your past. Bring them with you to the page and write to them. Let them sit alongside you as you write them a goodbye letter. If they revisit, do it again.
8) Stop pursuing a shadow career (where you are the support for another that is going for their dreams) while ignoring your writing. No matter what your career is right now, make the time to write.
9) Stop chasing many dreams and goals. It may feel free when you don’t lock yourself down to one thing, but you are trapped in scattered energy. Choose your one thing, one topic, and go for it. That is true freedom.
10) Stop thinking that some people are born as professional writers. They had to work at it. HARD. So do you. You work at it, you fail, you crash and burn. Then you really have something to say.
12) Stop your addictions to______. I know you can’t stop completely but you can stop long enough to get some writing out.
(It can be an addiction to a substance, to failure, to love, to a person, care-taking, money, shopping, sex, distraction, drama, traveling, negative thinking…fill in the blank.)
13) Stop trying to change bad habits. My trick is to just start a good habit. It will cancel out some of the bad ones.
14) Stop saying “I’m so busy”. Of course you take care of stuff, but you don’t have to make being busy your go to motto. Instead of saying “I am busy” say “I am a writer” as often as you can.
15) Stop creating drama in your life, or getting sucked into someone else’s drama. Deal with your own internal stuff and stay out of other peoples stuff. They will figure it out without you, leaving you the time and energy to focus on your writing.
16) Stop giving up on your dream of writing.
As Churchill said, “Never never never give up”.
17) Stop letting your fears hold you back because there is no end to your fears. Allow yourself to feel the fear and do it anyway.
18) Stop procrastinating. Write like there’s no tomorrow. There may not be, and your story and writing may be hidden from the world forever.
19) Stop avoiding a simple life. Life gets simple when you have one track you’re on. Make that one track your writing.
Be regular and orderly in your life so you may be violent and original in your work. Gustave Flaubert
20) Stop ignoring the secret dream or passion you have. Dreams that are ignored tend to become quite rowdy and show up in your life to get your attention in unconventional ways.
21) Stop clinging to your unproductive friends and turn to those people that are committed to their craft. You don’t have to give up your unproductive friends completely but remember that you become like the 5 people closest to you.
22) Stop punishing yourself in your mind if you don’t know what you want. Stay open to the world around you and keep asking questions of yourself and the answers will come.
23) Stop thinking about regrets of the past and stop obsessing about the future. Read some Eckhart Tolle and be in the moment. That’s where creation is, right in the laser focused, present moment.
24) Stop waiting to be inspired and just write something. Anything. You can throw it out.
25) Stop obsessing about what ‘other’ people, other gurus or know it all’s are doing. You have enough inside you so be your own guru.
26) Stop trying to be great and just be ordinary. Once you’re getting ‘ordinary’ done, you can work on being great. One step at a time.
27) Stop dreaming of fame and fortune as the rewards for your work. Know that the journey is the reward in itself.
28) Stop waiting for the perfect space. Create an orderly corner for yourself and go there every day at the same time, even if its only for five minutes at first.
29) Stop thinking you have to know everything. You don’t. Most people don’t know what they’re doing at first. You can figure if out along the way, so get on your way.
30) Stop letting a bad day or a missed creative session hold you back from writing again tomorrow. Keep going. Athletes play while they’re hurt. You can come back after a flop.
31) Stop thinking it will get better. If this is how it is so be it. This is your current life. Create anyway.
The One Thing Left To Do:
Make a decision to write no matter what. Cross over into the place where obstacles still exist but excuses do not.
Steven Pressfield, author of the book I read on the diving board says this:
“I didn’t talk to anybody during my year of turning pro. I didn’t hang out. I just worked. I had a book in mind and I had decided I would finish it or kill myself. No tv, radio, music, sports, sex. I didn’t read the newspaper. For breakfast I had liver and eggs. I was like Rocky.”
You may not be able to check out completely, yet in your own way, with whatever you have going on in your life, you can figure out a way to do a version of what Steven Pressfield did.
Pursue your art.
Decide. Look into the mirror and what do you see?
Make that person you see in the mirror the one that owns their power to take on the decision to say “I am a writer”. And write no matter what.
Now it’s your turn to reply to this email with your story. What are you up to? What’s happening in your life? What do you want to share with the world?
Would you like to work with me? I won’t leave you alone. I will email you, text you, call you, and make sure you’re writing.
$97 is my fee for now for new clients only, until I fill up the few slots I am offering because I am taking a break between writing projects. (YES I spend most of my time writing.)
What you get is:
- a half hour session about your writing desires and goals
- a written, emailed, personalized step by step writing plan based on our conversation
- a follow up with me via email one week later
Go for it. You are a writer.