3 Mistakes Writers Make (and How to Avoid Them)
Earlier this year I signed up for the newsletter of a fellow creative. I loved her energy and it seemed like she was everywhere, making things happen. She participated in conversations on Twitter, shared a long list interesting links in her emails, and created valuable content for her audience (both free and paid). She was really magnetic, and I always felt empowered after reading her emails.
But then she disappeared.
She abandoned several projects-in-process, reduced her activity on social media, and eventually took a month off to recharge.
Ultimately, she was transparent about her process and updated us along the way, but from one creative to another, I felt an ache in my heart watching her attempt to create content at such an unsustainable pace. She went from sending two emails per week and churning out blog posts and workbooks to sleeping on the couch to recover.
She had so many amazing ideas. She wanted to inspire her community and provide tools to help them achieve their dreams. But she didn’t have a sustainable system in place, so she burned out.
This can happen to all of us. It may have happened to you in the past, and I know I've been close to the edge myself. The good news is there’s another way.
I call it a sustainable writing practice. Essentially, it’s a system designed to nurture your creativity alongside all the other important aspects of your life.
A sustainable writing practice is also filled with goals and intentions that are both achievable and appropriate for your current circumstances.
3 Mistakes Writers Make That Quickly Lead to Burn Out
Mistake #1: Starting too many projects
There’s nothing wrong with having lots of ideas. In fact, it’s encouraged. Write them down, brainstorm, and keep a log of all the things you want to write. But in order to make progress, less is more, especially when you’re also working, raising children, attending meetings, and driving carpool.
What to do instead
A good dose of honesty does wonders here. When it comes to choosing a writing project to pour ourselves into, it’s important we look at our obligations (including our own schedules and the schedules of those we share our lives with), as well as choose the story most important to tell right now. If something has been bubbling to the surface, now’s the time to listen.
Mistake #2: Comparing writing journeys
When you’re in the middle of writing a blog, a book of short stories, a single poem, or the novel you’ve been working on for three years, it’s easy to become distracted (and occasionally downright jealous) by news of fellow writers’ milestones.
This has certainly happened to me. I watched as fellow cookbook bloggers (some who started years after me) amass enormous followings and sign book deals with ease. At least, it looked easy from the outside.
What to do instead
When feelings of judgment and frustration surface, notice it, then let it pass like clouds in the sky. You also have the option of being happy for them. Celebrate their likely well-deserved milestone with a virtual glass of champagne, then refocus your attention inward. Besides, @@writing doesn’t hand out trophies. Our own pace is the best pace.@@
Mistake #3: Ignoring your intuition
Your intuition is that little voice inside, a nudge really, that stems from a place of instinct, not reason. Ignoring it might be the easy thing to do (especially when you're coaching soccer games, answering client emails, and rushing to the store for dinner provisions), but tuning in can help shape your writing future.
What to do instead
When multiple projects are vying for attention (and they all seem interesting), it helps to tune in and see if you can determine which story needs telling most urgently. Maybe there’s something you’ve been thinking about for a while, and its time to begin typing. Maybe one idea can simmer on the back of the stove while you work with an idea that’s more fully formed.
Ultimately, our success as writers is greatly dependent on whether or not we have a sustainable writing practice to support us. To provide some guidance in this area, I have a fun 6-day e-course to help you find clarity and focus. Sign up below to start the course!