What’s Stopping You?

Is it workshop-a-phobia?

I’ve been surprised to learn recently that many new writers break into a sweat when they think about turning up and attending a writing workshop. So they put it off and put it off again. Hard to believe?

Meet Dave. He’s the director of creative and hard-working Ad Agency Hot Butter that creates video content for Digital Channels. He describes himself as a funny guy who loves life and thrives on the magic we learn from life’s challenges. No slouch, right? And yet…

Dave attended one of my workshops recently and it took him 8 years to get there! He’d been receiving my newsletter for 8 years! Looking at everything I had on offer and thinking how much he’d like to attend. When he told me this it blew my mind.

Why, I asked, did you wait so long? And this is what Dave told me.

” I think there was probably a sense of fear that I wouldn’t be good enough. That I didn’t have a guaranteed good idea for a new show at the tips of my fingers.”

Whaaat? How is that possible? But then I realised I hear the following all the time…

“I won’t be as good as everyone else in the room.”

“I don’t want to share my work in front of people.”

“I’m really new – and worried that I’ll make a fool of myself.”

I know writers and I’m familiar with that yearning aspiring writers have to get their stories down on paper so it makes me sad that fear is stopping them enjoying, not to mention learning about, something they love to do.

So it made me really happy to have Dave tell me that it was worth the wait.

“It was great to meet you for the first time and realise how down to earth, encouraging and funny you are! It was reassuring to meet other writers who are finding their way and looking for structure to bring their ideas to life.”

Dave Munn – Hot Butter Productions

Dave Munn - Hot Butter Productions



Staying on Track…

Hey, we’re halfway through 2019 – so what better time to check in with ourselves and see where we’re at with our current writing project?

So at this juncture – where are you at?

Are you further along than you hoped or not quite where you wanted to be? If you’re where you hoped you’d be – excellent!  And well done on maintaining momentum and being so goddamn awesome.

If you’re less than happy with where you are I have some thoughts about how you can get back on track and stay there.

Something you probably don’t know about me is that I really hate housework.  Don’t get me wrong, I love clean and tidy I just have to force myself to do it and then tend to stop halfway because I’m bored.   Sound vaguely familiar?

I hear this same kind of talk about writing all the time. We love and want the outcome – so what’s the big deal? Why is it sometimes so hard to start and go after what we desire?  (The answer to that question is a whole other post, probably a book…)

So how do we get ourselves motivated and working?  Some tips for you…

Getting to Work Tip #1 – Take Small Steps
Here’s how I force myself to do housework (I wish I was joking – I’m not.) I set the alarm on my phone for 15-minute blocks – and try to get as much done as I can in that time.  Here’s my rationale – I don’t want to do it but I know I can bear 15 minutes of tedium.  And then I just rinse and repeat until I’ve done 15 minutes in every room.  And it works.  Squalor avoided – phew!
How about applying that technique (or a variation thereof) to your writing task every day?  Little and often is surprisingly effective.
My housework trick is essentially my own variation of the Pomodoro Technique which you may also find useful. 

Getting to Work Tip #2 – Choose a deadline and stick to it.
The world is awash with competitions and submission opportunities – my monthly newsletter is always full of them.  Choose one that suits you and your medium – and then work towards it.  A deadline is fantastic – otherwise, there’s the temptation to meander forever. (I know, I’m in that place right now on a particular project.)   And it is SO satisfying sending off that entry or application.  Notice how whether you are successful or not – just entering/submitting has forced you to move your project forward.

Getting to Work Tip #3 – Get a Writing Buddy
Being held accountable to someone makes your writing life easier.  If you have to show up, you probably will.  If someone is waiting for you to show them your work – you’ll probably do it.  

Getting to Work Tip #4 – Consider a Writing Group
As you may know, I’m a big fan of the writing group as a mechanism to help you move your project forward.  Company, motivation and regular accountability. These are exactly the guiding principles, the very point of The Writing Room that I run in Auckland – check it out.



Show Me A Perfect Writer & I’ll Show You A Unicorn

 

When I speak with writers about what’s getting in the way of them finishing their projects I tend to hear the following reasons:

  • Lack of time
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of momentum

And then I hear … I’m worried that it’s not good enough – so I just keep fiddling with it.

Just so you know – the endless fiddling isn’t you improving your work, it’s fear thwarting your writing goal.   And you know I’m right…

Here’s the thing – if you’re waiting for your work to be perfect you’re going to be waiting for a very long time.   If you can’t share your work until it’s perfect you’re going to be waiting a very long time.  Sure, you’ll be safe from potential criticism and rejection but your work is never going to see the light of day.

And I don’t know many people who write for the audience in their bottom drawer.

So if perfectionism (aka cunningly desired fear) is getting in the way of your productive writing – here are some thoughts to consider.

  • Writing is a messy, imperfect process – so why do you expect your work to be perfect?
  • You’re going to get it wrong at some point – especially if you’re a new-ish writer. You’re going to get things wrong even if you’re not!
  • Getting critical feedback is invaluable to you as a writer and will help you improve your craft. You can’t get that if you don’t finish your work.
  • There’s no prize for being perfect.  Seriously – zero prizes!
  • Perfectionism is stopping you finishing because after you’ve finished the next step is invariably putting your work out into the world.  Never finishing means never having to show anyone your work = your work is NEVER seen.  And that’s sad.
  • Everybody wants their work to be amazing! Plenty of successful and talented writers struggle with getting their work bang on.  The difference is they don’t let that worry stop them finishing their project.  They finish, then they may go through the agonies of self-doubt and then they rewrite.
  • What’s worse?  Feelings of self-loathing because you never finish your story OR  someone (directly or indirectly) telling you your story needs more work?
  • What’s the worse thing that could happen if you get negative feedback?  And just so you know – everybody gets negative feedback at some point.  And getting it helps you build creative resilience.

Want some support to keep your project on track?  Check out my Writing Room page.

©Kathryn Burnett 2018 – For reprinting permission please get in touch via my contact page.