This blog was featured on 07/17/2017
Letting go of other people's writing rules

Have you ever noticed how a lot of writing sounds like rules? Write every day. Write first thing in the morning. Write 1,000 words per day. It's tempting to think they're the secret to writing more. 

I often hear my clients make similar pronouncements. "I'm going to write every day," they say. 

Or, in a wistful tone, "I just need to carve out two hours a day."

In those moments, I counsel caution. I know where these intentions lead. You write for a few days, then miss a day, and have a hard time getting back on track. Or, you finally get two hours and spend the first hour and a half on social media. 

Then you feel guilty and disappointed in yourself, and it's hard to write from that frame of mind. 

I'm sharing some shifts I made recently to my own writing life. Eight shifts that have helped me write more, write better and have more fun doing it. Here's #4 (you can read the first one here): 

Shift #4: Get real about your writing needs.

Rather than setting rules, figure out what motivates you. Then put a system in place based on the things that drive you.

For example, I’m NOT intrinsically motivated. Grad school, the newspaper industry, and freelancing taught me to work off deadlines. And accountability... having someone expect me to write. So I need the same for my creative writing. 

Figuring out what works has taken some trial and error:

~ I once had a writing partner I emailed every week with an update on my accomplishments. She did the same. It made for lovely conversation, but I often spent more time on the emails than writing.

~ I tried a writing group so we could trade work and give each other feedback. But we weren't all committed to our writing in the same way, and were looking for different things. 

~ Finally, I set up a system with an old friend and former client. First, we traded writing, setting dates as we went. Then we set a semester's worth of dates at a time, even planning a writing retreat. Now we send each other work every three to four weeks, whether that's part of a story, a chapter or a big picture reflection on what we want to do next.

As a result of figuring out what worked for me, I write more often, get more done, and have finally accomplished a dream—writing and publishing in fiction.

Perhaps a writing partner would work for you. Or a group would help you thrive. Perhaps signing up for workshops keeps you motivated. You can start right now with this prompt:

I'm successful at showing up for my writing when... 

Join the conversation and let us know what you uncover on the Facebook page or in the comments below. 

P.S. Ready for a writing breakthrough? Break free from writing rules that don't work and find your way with my FREE three-part series: Inside the Writers Mind. The first insight (and writing prompt) could be yours today.

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