Unless you are an essential worker, it’s highly likely you’ve spent most of your time at home for the last month, if not longer. The Covid-19 pandemic forced most people all over the world to shelter at home for at least a few weeks if not a few months. That means you have had more time to write.
I heard a lot of writers say they haven’t written a word since the coronavirus forced them to stay home. Others, however, have taken advantage of the opportunity. They have used the hours gained by not commuting every day or running errands, for example, to make huge strides toward achieving their writing goals.
What about you?
Use this Time Wisely
If you aren’t writing now, you likely won’t write…at least not much or consistently. You definitely won’t write when times get tough or unforeseen, challenging situations arise. You’ll just say, “Life got in the way.”
If you really want to write—and to write consistently, you need to use this time wisely. Right now…not tomorrow or the next day…learn how to become a consistent writer. This is your opportunity to develop a habit of writing no matter what life throws your way. It’s your chance to learn how to eliminate distractions and create strategies that allow you to write despite anything…and everything…that threatens to stop you from being a writer.
And that’s your nonfiction writing challenge this month—use the time you have wisely. Learn to write consistently now. But before you tackle it, you need to understand the reasons why you don’t write consistently.
1. You are in your own way.
First and foremost, realize that the only thing stopping you from writing consistently is you. You are in your own way. Your current mindsets and habits don’t support the achievement of your goal.
Get out of your way by doing the hard work of changing how you think and behave, what you believe, and how you approach life. You need to work on you. That means deep diving into a personal development program and taking an honest look at yourself. Then, decide how to do things differently than you have in the past.
The following six reasons can be eliminated with a commitment to your personal development.
2. You are making excuses.
How many times have you said you don’t have the time or the energy to write? How often have you complained that life continually gets in the way of your writing plans?
Let’s be honest: These are just excuses. I know it, and you know it. And excuses do not help you write consistently.
There will never be a perfect time to write, which is why you have to learn to write even during imperfect times.
I get that you may not think you have more time right now. You suddenly have to homeschool your kids (who usually are in school), cook every meal (when you typically go out to eat at least once or twice per week), and disinfect groceries. And you also have your entire family at home with you—asking questions, needing things, and making a mess that you have to clean up.
All of that might be true. But don’t turn your situation—whatever it is—into an excuse for not writing.
Learn to write despite the kids being home, the meals needing to be prepared, and your spouse doing all the home projects that didn’t get done before the pandemic. Learn to write no matter what.
If you can do that now, you will be able to do it every single day—no matter what unexpected situation arises. When you have no excuses, you have no reason not to do what you say you want to do—write.
3. You are focused on doing the wrong things.
Productivity relies on you focusing on the right things—your priorities. If writing is a priority, put your time, attention, and energy on it daily.
I understand that your children are a priority. Your elderly parent is a priority as well. And, of course, your dog’s walk is a priority—just like your daily exercise. But if writing is a priority, too, you will do it—just like you manage to walk the dog even when you feel tired or sick. You make it happen. You make yourself do it.
So, prioritize your writing. Then, notice how you become able to write daily. And see that you are focused and productive while you are writing.
You will likely have to learn how to reduce or eliminate distractions since they steal your attention and make it hard to be productive. However, if you can’t do that, you have to learn to write despite distractions.
Try some noise-canceling headphones, or pull a chair into your walk-in closet. Both strategies work well.
Don’t make excuses. Instead, find a solution, and focus on writing.
4. You haven’t developed a habit.
If you aren’t writing now, it’s because, to date, you haven’t developed a habit of writing. Habits are…well…habitual. You do them without even thinking.
Is writing daily one of your habits? If not, make it one.
There’s no time like the present to begin developing a writing habit—especially if you don’t have kids to homeschool, meals to prep and cook for an entire family, and dogs to walk and feed. But if you do have these other responsibilities, you can still develop a writing habit. In fact, it’s all the more critical that you do so.
You need to develop a writing habit despite the other tasks that could fill your entire day. When you accomplish this goal, you will be able to write no matter what happens or is happening around you.
Find a time to write. Write at that time every day. Do this day in and day out for 40 days or more. (A habit can take over 200 days to form.) Start now, and you’ll have a habit long before the New Year rolls around.
And then next time you have to shelter in place during a pandemic, you will write. In fact, no matter what happens in your life, you will write just like you will continue to brush your teeth every day.
5. You don’t really want to write.
Wannabe writers hate it when I ask them if they really want to write.
“Of course, I do!” they exclaim.
“If that were true, you’d be writing,” I reply.
Writers write. What more do I need to say—except, if you really wanted to write, you’d be writing.
So, stop talking about writing and write. Find a way. That’s what you do when something is important to you, and you really, really want to do it.
6. It’s easier not to write.
Let’s face facts: Writing is hard. If it weren’t, as the saying goes, everyone would do it.
Yes, sometimes, it’s fun and easy. When you get in the flow, it’s fabulous! But most of the time, it takes effort…lots of effort.
If you haven’t been writing consistently (or at all), then it’s going to feel more comfortable to do what you’ve been doing—not writing. Doing something different always feels hard at first.
And writing seems most difficult when you begin developing the habit. Then, as you continue to write every day, it starts to feel easier, but you have to get over the initial hump.
You can equate this to the first day you begin an exercise program. It feels so damn hard to lift the weights 10 times or run a mile. As you do the exercises, you think, “I’d rather be sitting on the couch watching television or reading a book.” And the next day, you are so sore you swear there is no way you can get up and do it again.
Yet, if you get up and do it again, you get over the hump. After a week or so, exercising begins to feel easier. You may even start to like it. You get over the hump.
Writing is the same. Do it when it feels hard, and eventually it gets easier.
7. You are afraid to write.
A blank page or screen can appear terribly frightening. It’s almost as scary as seeing your words published.
Some writers are afraid of failure. Others are afraid of success. Maybe you are scared of being judged and rejected or of the responsibility that comes with having an adoring audience. You want to play big, but you are afraid to put yourself out there. You want to remain anonymous, but you want to make a difference.
No matter what you fear, that fear stops your hands from flying across the keyboard or from hitting “send” on your query, manuscript, or completed book project.
If you want to write consistently—and achieve your writing goals—you have to act boldly. Writers are courageous.
May Nonfiction Writer’s Challenge
To complete this month’s nonfiction writer’s challenge, stop using the seven reasons described above to explain why you can’t write…now or at any other way.
How do you do that? Find reasons why you can write.
Here’s another way to complete this challenge: Get out of your own way.
How do you do that? Commit to working on yourself. Do the hard work of developing the mindsets and habits that support you and your writing goals.
Then, when life happens, writing will still happen.
How will you make sure you write when you have time–or don’t have time? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with other nonfiction writers you know so they, too, will get motivated take on this nonfiction writing challenge.
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Photo courtesy of Life-Of-Pix