There just never seems to be enough time in a day. Or a week. Or a year. As an aspiring author, it can feel like time is slipping through your fingers like sand.
The process of writing a novel is a long, difficult road. It takes determination and sticking to a long-term goal. Hundreds, even thousands of hours. And what’s tricky is that when we’re striving for long-term goals, the only person we’re really accountable to is ourselves.
That leaves a lot of room for us to put off a goal, or procrastinate the years away until we’re completely guilt-ridden for not having put in the effort necessary to complete what we’d set out to do. That’s when we look at our lives and start asking the “what if” questions:
“What if I’d finished that novel I started?”
“What if I’d had the courage to send my draft to a few publishing companies?”
“What if I didn’t take that rejection letter so close to heart, and persisted by continuing to share my work?”
But you know what? That’s not going to be you, or me. Not today! Because we’re going to STOP feeling like a slave to time, and take back control of our lives and goals! Let’s get started on figuring out how to do it:
Reclaim your passion project.
“Writing a novel is on my bucket list. I’ll get it done one day!”
“It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for my novel.”
“Oh geez, I’ve had writer’s block for… well, a long time. I hope I get over it soon.”
Sound familiar? Next thing you know, you’re me, and your first novel fell on the back-burner for 3 whole years.
It wasn’t until I grabbed brunch with my cousin, also an aspiring author, when I finally got my act together and actively got back on track with completing my novel. We started a Writer’s Circle, and met up each month to discuss our most recent pages. Between meetings, we would write more, exchange chapters and proof each other’s work.
The biggest benefit of our Writer’s Circle is that it keeps us writing, no matter what. Even if we’re not really feeling in the mood, or might be down in the dumps, we still write. We still send each other our drafted pages. We still meet up to talk out what’s holding us back every month. We still make consistent progress.
Because finished is better than perfect, and every bit of progress counts. If you’re striving for perfection alone, you’ll never find it. Or, in this case, you’ll never finish the first draft to your novel.
Understand that you’re your own worst enemy.
Although writing and day-dreaming about one day being an internationally best-selling author is my hobby, for my day-job I run The Clever Quill, a boutique social media marketing and copywriting company. With a successful business just over 2 years old, I have a bit *ahem, a lot* of experience when it comes to realizing that the only person standing in the way of your own success is you. And that, my friends, if a bitter pill to swallow.
How is this the case, you ask? Well, consider this: science shows that we procrastinate because we’re stressed. In other words, we procrastinate as a coping mechanism.
I can’t tell you how eye-opening this realization was for me. My inner dialogue went a little something like this:
“If I’m procrastinating from writing as a coping mechanism, what is it that I’m stressed about? How am I holding myself back? If my procrastination is really, entirely, within my own control, and I’m doing it out of some kind of fear, I can conquer this, can’t I? I just need to figure out what I’m so afraid of.”
Now ask yourself this: why has it been so long since you last wrote a page or two for your novel? Why are you holding on to your first draft instead of sending it off to a few publishing companies, just to see what happens? Why did that one criticism about your writing cripple and upset you so deeply?
I can promise you, from much experience, that if you’re looking for an excuse to not do something, you will always find one. And since we’re often only accountable to ourselves when pursuing a goal like writing a novel, it’s all too easy to identify an excuse and happily take advantage of it.
We human beings are very clever creatures, and seem to make a sport out of blissful ignorance. Don’t let that kind of foolish behaviour paralyze your ability to complete that goal you started years and years ago.
so get your eyes off the clock. Stop tearing yourself down with guilt. Face the cause of your stress and fear head-on and work through it.
The only one standing in the way to getting it done is YOU.
Get your priorities in order.
The honest truth is that if you want something badly enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.
And often the biggest obstacles you’ll have to fight head-on are your own insecurities, doubts and self-sabotaging behaviours.
We can’t do absolutely everything we want in life. As the opening to this post stated, there are only so many hours in a day, and a week, and a year. That said, we have the ability to look at every goal we want to accomplish and categorize them based on priority and importance.
To achieve the greatest rewards in life, and fulfill the best version of yourself, you will have to make some sacrifices. If you’re aiming to complete that long-term goal, you’ll have to do so by chipping away at it a little bit each day/week. Some examples of sacrificing for the cause include:
- Waking up an hour early to do some writing before leaving for work.
- Saying ‘no’ to that invite from a friend so you can clock some time into your goal.
- Putting a goal you identify as less important on the back-burner to make room for your biggest, most important one.
Life is full of sacrifices, and getting what you really want out of life takes work. If you were looking for a soft little pat on the back for procrastinating from what you should be doing, I’m afraid you won’t be getting that from me.
If being an entrepreneur since the age of 23 has taught me anything, it’s that there will always be plenty of things we don’t want to do. We can either whine about it, avoid it, or just simply get on with it.
It is those who whine and avoid who let procrastination and fear hold them back from chasing their dreams to fullest.
But that’s not going to be you, or me. Not today.
Because we know what we want to achieve, and we’re going to take a small step today towards achieving it. This blog post, for me, was one of those small steps in the bigger picture of my ultimate goal. It’s all about putting in the work and sweat to get where we need to be.
What was your small step today? Let me know in the comment section below.