You made yourself a promise. Today, you’ll write that post for your blog, work on your course content, or start that book you’ve been longing to start.
You’re in between meetings. And you’ve given yourself a whole hour to write.
Your fingers are poised over your keyboard.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
You look up.
Seth, the guy across the hall, is standing in your doorway.
He has important business to share (or so you tell yourself). Five minutes with Seth turn into twenty.
An hour passes, and your 3:00 conference call is about to start. Yipes. Your writing time is gone.
Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.
Does this scenario remind you of that New Year’s fitness goal you made?
If you struggle to form writing success habits, you’re not alone. But you can do it. Here are seven obstacles with strategies to help you overcome them.
#1 — The Distraction Conundrum
People like Seth will interrupt you. Shut your door (before he appears) or turn off your cell phone. Block your Internet connection. If necessary, remove yourself from the building. Do whatever it takes.
Set yourself rules for your writing time. No visitors. No phone calls. No Starbuck’s coffee. Work in a place where you can minimize your distractions.
Barring an environmental disaster, you have control over your interruptions. (Spilling coffee on your laptop is not a freak force of nature.)
Strategy #1: Set up a writing sanctuary. Make your time sacred.
#2 — The Priority Conundrum
You’ve got multiple projects on the go and each one feels like a priority. Really? Sure you completed a marathon over the weekend. You can make commitments. But if like some people, your marathon involved Season 5 of Big Bang Theory, then watching Netflix doesn’t count as exercise. What’s more important, writing a blog post to boost your business or laughing at Sheldon Cooper?
Write down all project commitments and activities. Can you remove or delay one that’s not as important?
Strategy #2: Make your writing a top priority.
#3 — The Overwhelm Conundrum
Steven King writes 2,000 words a day. So you decide to write an entire blog post each time you sit down. But how realistic is that goal?
Setting your word count too high leads to overwhelm.
Don’t think about writing an entire post. Think instead about tackling the post in stages. Tackle a piece over the course of a week. For example, Monday you come up with your big topic idea and brainstorm headlines. Tuesday you write an outline. Wednesday you write a draft. Thursday you edit. (You get the idea.)
Reassess your goal. Be clear about your outcome for your writing session. Can you write 250 words instead of 500? Or can you write for 30 minutes at a time instead of an hour. Start small. Write more often. Build your momentum.
Strategy #3: Chunk your writing and set realistic expectations for your time.
#4 —The Motivation Conundrum
You start your blog post with enthusiasm. You’re going to become a popular writer with authority for your expertise. Hooray.
But somewhere during your writing, you hit a day or a series of days where you just don’t feel like writing. The struggle to write happens to everyone. Writing is hard work. Life can be stressful. And the reward for your blogging seems so far in the future you need a clairvoyant to see it.
Don’t fight your motivation. Figure out what works for you and build your system. Here are some ideas to consider:
– Join a class or meetup group
– Hire a writing coach
– Set small milestones
– Use a reward system
– Find a writing buddy
– Set up a ritual
Pick one idea from the list or try one of your own that’s worked for you. Apply that strategy to develop your writing discipline.
Strategy #4: Find a system to stay motivated.
#5 — The Self-editing Conundrum
Do you edit while you write? I do. I love to edit, but it slows me down.
If you question your sentence structure, word choice or punctuation, you won’t get very far. Save the edits to the end once you’ve finished your draft.
When you get to a point where you need some research, highlight it. You can fill in that part later. Keep your fingers typing or your pen moving.
Think of the Toni Braxton song, and “Let if flow”.
Strategy #5: Get your words down quickly. Edit, spit, and polish later.
#6 — The Habit Conundrum
You know daily exercise is like broccoli (good for you). You set your fitness goal back in January, but now it’s May. You’re no further along with your goal. The gym staff welcome you like a stranger each time you show up.
You had good intentions. You had a goal. You bought the membership.
You didn’t schedule your time at the gym, build it into your routine, or make it a habit.
Writing is like going to the gym but without the sweaty workout clothes.
Find a time of day that works best for your writing. Schedule it on your calendar and show up.
Strategy #6: Schedule your writing.
#7—The Stuck Conundrum
You sat down. And then you got stuck figuring out what to write.
You don’t have to start with the intro to your blog post. Start wherever you feel most inspired. Start with an easy chunk. Then tackle another easy one to gain momentum.
When you finish each writing session, make a note about what you’ll write for the next session. That way, you won’t waste time figuring it what to work on.
Strategy #7: Make writing easy. Chunk up your writing and start with what inspires you.
You’re going to encounter obstacles writing content. But you can work on strategies to overcome the biggest ones.
Distracted easily? Set up a distraction-free writing environment and establish rules.
Too busy and pressed for time? Assess your priorities. Switch to writing instead of another activity. Give up a lower priority project or assign it to someone else.
Discipline lacking? Build a system. Find a group. Hire a coach. Set some milestones.
Pick your biggest obstacle and then work out a strategy to overcome it.
Just pick one and try it. See how that goes.
And don’t forget to reward yourself when you hit publish on your post. Borrow the Big Bang Theory DVD from your library. Give Seth a call. Or better yet, get yourself to the gym. Your membership is calling.