Happy Independence Day, fellow Americans!
As writers, we often see advice circling the inter webs. Whether you’ve joined writing groups/pages on Facebook, or you’re plugged in on Twitter, or you follow tons of writing blogs (ahem)- you’ve probably seen it all.
What NOT to do as a writer.
What to do to be a successful writer.
The best habits of successful writers.
Advice from [insert known author here].
All of these things are wonderful, don’t get me wrong. And I’ll be honest and say this piece probably isn’t 100% different from something else you’ve read. But if I’ve learned anything as a writer, it’s that every writer’s process is different. So it doesn’t hurt to read as much advice as possible, and read it all with a grain of salt.
My bad habits are a writer are as follows:
chasing new book ideas before finishing another one
At least two of these aren’t always bad things for others, but for me they can be crippling. Here’s what I’ve learned to do with each of them– or what I’m still learning to do.
Practice makes progress, right? Something like that.
It’s no surprise that this is one of my downfalls. I am a procrastibaker. When I can’t think of what to write next, I turn to baking (and eating) a lot. It’s easy to procrastinate with social media and, well, life getting in the way of writing.
But I’ve learned that if I truly set aside a time– even if that time is just once a week, or preferably once a day– and make it my own, I do much better.
It doesn’t keep me from getting on Twitter and complaining about writer’s block or posting a picture on Instagram about my writing layout, but it does at least make me commit that time to things that revolve around writing.
Usually, when that happens- I can hash out a few words and count it as a success.
This one is killer, guys. Doubting yourself, your dreams, your goals, your abilities– this is a big NO-NO.
The problem with that, though, is it means it’s even easier to give into.
If you’re sitting down to write and have no words, or you suddenly think your book isn’t good enough, or a writer friend is having more success than you, or you had to part ways with your agent and you doubt if you’ll score another one, or you got rejected from a publishing deal, or you got a bad review– all these things can make that DOUBT seep in big time.
I’m not telling you to not acknowledge the doubt. I’m not telling you to NOT talk to someone and ignore it, or to not cope because you shouldn’t have this “bad habit.” I’m telling you it’s NORMAL to feel self-doubt.
Just don’t let that doubt make you give up. Don’t let that doubt keep you from seeing your amazing potential. Because if you’ve come this far, you HAVE potential. Cope how you need (I suggest baking/ice cream/wine/coffee dates), and then get back to writing / trying!
Chasing New Book Ideas… before finishing another one
I’ve written on this before. Chasing new book ideas is not a bad thing at all. Having ideas is what helps you as a / makes you a writer.
But time and time again I’ll find myself starting and stopping, starting and stopping, starting and stopping.
Sometimes this is for the best– especially if an idea cannot pan out (whether it’s because you don’t have enough to fill it in, or the story just isn’t good, or whatever the case).
If this is the only writing that one is doing, though… it might be time to reevaluate.
When I get into this cycle, I know it’s time to sit down and plot. Look at a new idea and see if it’s a FULL idea, or if it’s just a scene that I really want to write. If that’s the case, it’s better as a short story or something saved for a project it will fit into some day. Write that bit, get it out of your system- give it life- and then continue on with something else that has more grit.
As I’ve said, every author is different. Some have designated writing time daily, some only need it once a week. Other writers are in a different season of life and may only get a weekend a month to truly WRITE. And that’s OK. Every writer is different.
In the end, the best you can do is to admit your bad habits as a writer- or what you see as bad habits- and find a way to process them. Acknowledging them is the first step, and then you can move forward in defeating them. They won’t disappear by any means, but they will become more manageable.
Who knows. Maybe they will disappear. But I haven’t gotten that far just yet.