This week has been cray-zay…but in a good way.
With my days quite busy (full time–and then some–work, writing an ebook, which I’m pumped to share with you! Planning a trip, family and friend gatherings, writing, editing, blogging and making sure to fit in Game of Thrones and Louie) I want to be sure to capitalize on my writing time.
I’ve found that even with an eager heart and the best intentions, I can start writing my first drafts on the wrong foot because of some common habits that are easy to fall into.
These seemingly innocent habits, or “don’ts,” are sneaky: They keep us thinking we are getting more done or being more productive than we really are.
The best thing we can do is get conscious of these things and then make better choices.
Of course we can’t have a list of “don’ts” without a list of “dos.” Otherwise this wouldn’t be too helpful and a bit of a bummer. So here you go, 12 common don’ts and the dos that follow.
Don’t: Edit as You Go
Do: Write Messy
If possible turn off the red and green squiggles on your word processor. Wait to edit until you are further along in the writing process. Editing at this point is not helpful. It fuels insecurity and writer’s doubt.
Don’t: Try to Have it all Figured Out
Do: Expect the Unexpected
Planning can bring clarity and focus to your writing. But, with that said, also keep yourself open to the unexpected. Allow yourself to let the writing guide your inspiration and the direction of your work.
Don’t: Start Without Your Why
Do: Get Clear on Your Intention
Before writing, take a quick sec to remind yourself of why you are writing in the first place. Holding your big vision, intention or why, will fuel your writing. You will gain momentum, energy and willingness to keep going when the process gets challenging.
Don’t: Over Complicate Things
Do: Keep Writing Easy-Peasy
Writing is natural and simple. It is communication, it is something we do everyday. It’s how we share our ideas and express ourselves to others. Don’t let the process get complicated. Remember that writing is organic and something you’ve been doing since you were a child. Allow your words to flow in the same way your voice does when talking to a dear friend.
Don’t: Try to be Perfect
Do: Make Mistakes & Experiment
I love the quote by Einstein: “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything.” And I just know, you are not the type to not try something in your life. So make sure this applies to your writing as well. Allow your writing be full of experiments, which hold wisdom and creative grace. There is no right way and there is no wrong way to create. Let go, have fun and know editing and massaging your ideas will happen down the road.
Don’t: Start Without Managing Distractions
Do: Show Distractions Who’s Boss
Distractions are a killer. I am super susceptible to them, so have to put up my guard right away. Otherwise, I will be looking at shoes and cat videos before I know it. Get your distractions in check. Practice some tough love with yourself, check-out the prewrite checklist , set goals and commit to monotasking your writing practice. You will be more productive and excited about your work.
Don’t: Start without a Plan of Attack
Do: Get Focused
So you shouldn’t get too crazy here, but do create a plan of attack. What works for me is I set a goal for myself (outline an article, draft one, write for half hour straight, write for an hour with a short break at X time). Set your goal, get clear about it and go from there.
Do: Just Write
Seriously just dive in and start. Start wherever you are at. It doesn’t matter what is going on for you, what mood you are in, what you need to get done, or how you vision the perfect conditions for getting started. Just write. Start without getting too much in your head. Over-thinking takes up time, energy and doesn’t always take us to where we want to go. What is important here is to begin.
Don’t: Forget About Your Audience
Do: Honor Your Reader (Even if Your Reader is Yourself)
Are you writing for yourself, are you writing for others? Keep your audience in mind. If you are writing for an audience other than yourself, write to them directly. Picture one person, imagine you are sitting with them at coffee and writing directly to them.
Don’t: Start Without Letting Out Your Ideas
Do: Have a Good Ol’ Fashioned Brian Dump
Brainstorming is a great way to get into the writing groove. It’s actually one of my most favorite writing exercises because I get an excuse to use notecards and sharpies 🙂 Letting out all the ideas that are alive in you, is a great way to get out of your head, get clear on your direction and warm up your writing muscles. Brainstorming is less intimidating than writing itself, so start here and getting to work will be much easier.
Don’t: Dwell on Fear and Resistance
Do: Notice Your Blocks and Write Anyway
Fear and resistance is part of the creative process. Notice where your resistance is. Maybe it shows up as distractions, or over-thinking, or dragging your feet to your desk. Just notice, and move forward anyways. The feelings and thoughts that block you from writing will pass. They are also good reminders that you are on to something important for the growth of yourself and your work. Keep on keeping on.
Don’t: Start Without the Finish Line in Mind
Do: Commit to Getting it Done
It is easy to get excited about starting something but finishing can be a whole other ball game. Commit to following through with your writing goal. Maybe your goal is to finish your writing session without distractions. Maybe it is finishing an article and publishing it. Or maybe it’s writing that next section of your book. Whatever it is. Finish. Draw a line in the sand. Follow through no matter what.
Over to You:
Do you have a don’t or a do you would like to add? Have you had experience with anything on the list? Share in the comments below.