Four Crows that Steal Your Seeds of Writing Opportunity

Blog | craft
March 17, 2016

 

By Jan Fields

Time management isn't really one of my great gifts. Basically, my life is
full of things that nibble at my time and energy and I only chase them off
when deadlines demand I do something and do something now! As a result, I
often find I conduct my work life in bursts of productivity that I achieve
by finally chasing away the things that have kept me from working well and
efficiently up to that point. So what kinds of things can be nibbling away
your time and energy. Well, if they're the same as mine, those opportunity
thieves probably look a lot like these:

1. Self-doubt.

Whenever I'm about to tackle something really new: a new
format of book, a new genre, a new publisher, I always have a period of
complete misery where I am certain I do not have what it takes to
accomplish the job at hand. And if I give place to those feelings (which may
be lies and may be true; at the point of only beginning a project I just
don't know), they will keep me from accomplishing the task or at least
hinder my ability to accomplish it well. So I have to recognize that most
creative people feel this way regularly. I've felt it before and still
succeeded. And the only thing entertaining the doubt can do is make it
absolutely sure to come true. So I savagely mash it's head whenever it pops
up. Yes, I'm not the best writer in the world and I'm dealing with that by
always learning and growing, but that doesn't mean I'm not up to the task.

2. Procrastination masquerading as work.

This one is a companion piece to self-doubt.
If I just research forever or put off the actual writing until I
read one more writing book, I can dodge around the pain of mashing the
self-doubt. This is a kind of subtle feeding of two crows at once. Research
is an essential part of writing. Growing and learning new things (through
courses or workshops or books) is valuable. But they cannot take the place
of writing. If all you're doing is almost writing, then you need to take a
hard look at all the "almost writing" activities and consciously devote less
time to them.

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3. Doormat Behaviors.

Writers (especially women writers) have a tendency to
feel guilty about the time given to writing instead of keeping house or
playing with children or meeting the needs of everyone else on the entire
planet. As a result, we tend to have trouble saying, "No." And there are
plenty of people ready to give us a slice of guilt pie every time we do get
up the energy to say, "No" to a volunteer request or a family activity. But
life is about balance. And writing is valuable. All the words that go down
on paper and turn into stories are part of our culture. Collectively, they
shape the kinds of generations ahead of us will be. And they have the unique
potential to affect people we will never meet and to live long beyond us.
Writing is valuable. And it's okay if we value it.

4. Trying to eat elephants.

When we look at the total project we hope to accomplish, it's
easy to get overwhelmed. How do we write a whole novel when
we struggle to keep the floors vacuumed? How do we find an agent when there
are hundreds of them out there and most don't seem interested in what we are
doing? How do we find a publisher that is both open to submissions and
interested in work like ours (while not already over-full of work like
ours?) These are elephant views on that task. No one can simply sit down and
eat an elephant. It's too big. But we can nibble one. As I write this, I
have eight novels under contract with deadlines. That is one really big
elephant and if I spend too much time looking at it, I can panic. I can't
possibly write eight novels. But I can write a chapter. I'm confident in
that. So I map out my day's plan by assuming I can and will write a chapter.
And if I keep doing that in less than two months, I have a novel. And if I
keep doing that, in 16 months I'll have eight novels. So I planned
accordingly when I accepted the original deadlines, knowing that I could
nibble that elephant away.

So, have you met these crows in your writing life? Do you have still others
that are trying to steal your opportunities? Identifying them is half the
battle. The other half of the battle is doing the uncomfortable work of
chasing those crows away. Only you can decide if your writing is worth that
to you. Like any truly worthwhile thing, it's work and it's often painful,
but it's also often glorious. And I know I'll never give it up. How about
you?

 

If you want more writing instruction like this, plus lots of tips and great resources, click here!

 


Great Read!

By Mara Kim Amazon review, Verified Purchase

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