Affect Your Writing Career Every Day By Doing This
It keeps me going, even when I don’t want to.
I am the Professional Procrastinator, King of Abandoned Hopes, and Purveyor of Bygone Dreams.
In other words, I write for a living.
As a professional producer, I have one duty to myself and the readers who decide I am worth their time — put out words.
The trouble is, procrastination sinks little tendrils into my brain and won’t let go.
This one phrase was ruining my life.
There was a time I would go days, even months, without putting a single word down. The guilt would, of course, rise. I felt I was failing myself. My family relies on me to bring in some kind of income, and I was not doing that well enough.
A phrase ran through my head all the time. It would echo in my dreams, haunting my life, leading me to even more depression over the fact I was not doing my best.
“If I don’t produce, I am taking food from the mouths of my children. I’m not a thief.”
I’m not even sure where it came from. It was as if some part of me wanted to torture myself for being a failure.
That’s probably due, in part at least, to some of the abusive situations I’ve been in. Still, it was pressure on myself I didn’t need, and I had to figure out something different.
If I didn’t, I’d never write a word again.
The secret, for me, is in the little things.
It’s not about the number of words I put out. When I write, I can easily do over 6000 words a day. That part of things is a non-issue.
It’s not the quality that matters, either. Despite what gurus will tell you, many people make one hell of a living outputting massive amounts of content, and they’re not especially good with those words. I try to be as high quality as I can, of course, but it’s still not all there is to it.
For me, the solution was to understand all I needed to do to keep myself going was to have no zero-sum days.
That may sound a little strange, but it works for me.
A lot of things push me to stop writing. I push back.
I have ADHD. I’m also bipolar, have Dissociative Identity Disorder, and PTSD piled as high as the stack of bills on the table. It’s hard to get started, sometimes, and even harder to keep going on the days when all of it kicks in at once.
A zero-sum day means I did at least a little something in that day to progress. Even if it’s as simple as editing a story, it’s an action that leads to an end.
I have a Substack, and I publish on Medium, my own website, and always have social media posts to take care of. There is always something to do, if I put my mind to it.
Days come along when I feel I don’t have the juice to get words out? Well, I can just edit a post. What about that little plugin I wanted to try out on the website? I probably have enough energy today to at least put out a tweet about a story I already published…
It’s all about doing a little something, every day, to keep the ball rolling. The concept of inertia is just as relevant to our careers as it is to objects. If you stop for a day or three, it’s going to be even harder to push yourself to begin the next time you’re ready.
I have a lot of pain issues. Because of it, typing is difficult sometimes. I can still surf around on sites like Unsplash, Pexels, or Pixabay to find images I could use as covers the next time I publish. Heck, it might even push me to get out a few hundred words if I take enough ibuprofen.
Those little things may not sound like much, but in the end can make all the difference in making sure, no matter what, you’re moving forward.
It’s eased my own burden, and might for you, too.
Doing this kind of thing has eased the burden of guilt I get when I feel I’ve done nothing. It’s stopped that little demon in the back of my mind in its tracks.
If you’re going through similar experiences with your own writing career, perhaps taking these small steps toward an ultimate goal would be a good way to up the impetus. We do all heed breaks, and there are days we don’t have enough spoons to spread. However, even on those days, we can jot down an idea for a headline, or find something inspiring so we can use it the next time we sit to write.
Anything is better than nothing, right?
I may not be as much of a success I want to be, yet, but using a method like this has made it so I know I will be.
That procrastination behemoth is always waiting to grab us when we’re not looking. Bite it back by having no zero-sum days.
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Keep striving to “be the best you that you can be” at this moment. Remember, no matter who you are or what you're going through, you are worthy of being loved. Don't let anyone teach you anything different.