The Mentality You Have to Get Rid of If You Want to Make Progress With Your Writing

I’m writing this one to me as much as I’m writing it to you. Because I need to hear it too (and so do you).

There’s a mentality going around that’s doing serious damage to writers (and creators, in general). And that mentality, when left unchecked, can pollute your entire system, causing a major breakdown that you may not come back from for a while.

Or maybe ever.

And this mentality, it’s the reason why you’re not getting nearly as much accomplished in your writing life as you want to. It’s the reason why you’re so far behind where you wanted to be or even thought you’d be by now.

It’s All Or Nothing

The mentality you need to get rid of RIGHT FREAKING NOW if you want to make real progress on your writing goals is this: it’s all or nothing. It’s black or white. There is no in-between. 

Because that’s total bullshit. And you know that, right?

All or nothing is the opposite of the mentality you need to be successful. Successful people do not think this way.

Because the all-or-nothing mentality says that if you can’t do it all (or can’t do something all the way), you’re better off not doing it.

Now I agree to a point that yes, you have to go all in on what you want for your writing life and you have to be willing to do the work and keep doing it, come hell or high-water, come failure, come whatever may.

But that doesn’t mean if you can’t do all of it, you shouldn’t do any of it. That’s a very bad way of looking at it.

Problem is, that’s how most writers look at things. Instead of realizing they can use a 15-minute block of time to make serious progress on their writing each day, they’ll tell themselves it’s not enough time, writing can only happen if I have thirty minutes or an hour or a whole day to dedicate to it.

Nope. Total BS that you need to let go of RIGHT NOW.

The truth is progress is made in the “pockets of time” that you have in your day, in your life. 

But most writers will ignore that. Most will hold onto the all-or-nothing mentality, if-I-can’t-spend-an-hour-on-my-writing-I’m-not-gonna-write-anything bullshit excuses that keep them from making progress, seeing results and achieving the things they want to achieve.

Here’s What To Do Instead

Write when you have time. Write when you don’t. Use the pockets of time–while waiting in line, when dinner is cooking, instead of watching some stupid show on Netflix–and get your writing done.

It’s as simple as that.

Most writers try to make it complicated and put all these restrictions and rules around it, by telling themselves lies like, I can only write when I’m inspired or I need at least 30 minutes.

You don’t. It’s just an excuse.

I wrote my new eBook that became a #1 bestseller on Amazon in 15- to 20-minute increments over the course of a month. Every day I sat down and set a timer for 15 minutes and I worked on that book.

I made excuses and told myself I didn’t have enough time, but then I got over it and sat my ass down in front of my Macbook and worked on the book. Every day. Every single day.

Because it’s only 15 minutes.

Even in the busiest of days I can find 15 minutes for my writing (although these days I spend anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours a day writing). Even on the days when I can’t find time to do anything else, I have 15 minutes for my writing.

It’s a choice. 

There are days when I’m insanely busy and running around and have no idea how I’m gonna get anything done. But I still manage to write on those days. And it’s because I’m committed to the result of getting my writing out there. I’m committed to being the writer and author I want to be.

And so I write.

When everyone else would take a nap or call it a night or go to bed early or just veg on the couch in front of Netflix, I write. I stay up late and I write. I get up early and I write.

I make writing happen every day, because making writing happen is my focus. It’s what I work my life around.

I am a writer, and that is more than just a hobby or a thing that you do. It’s a lifestyle. It’s who I am at my core.

Yes, at first it might be really freaking hard to make yourself sit down and write something, especially when you only have 15 minutes and you’re feeling totally uninspired. But the more you do it, the easier it gets.

It’s just like anything else. It’s a habit. It’s something you need to work up to.

And you do it in the pockets of time. The little in between time when you would usually distract your mind by scrolling through your Facebook feed or watching a stupid meme video on YouTube.

That’s when you do the writing. That’s when you make it happen.

You pull up a chair, whip out a notebook, open your Evernote app or sit in front of your computer, set a timer for 15 minutes (or however long you’re trying to kill time for) and you put words on the page.

But you can’t do any of this with an all-or-nothing mentality. Which is why you need to drop it PRONTO and realize that anything done is better than nothing done. Fifteen minutes of writing a day is better than no writing.

Any day of the week.

It’s about progress, not perfection. And if you’re seeing results–even just a little bit–every single day, then you’re making progress.

Now keep going.

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What can you do to give up the all-or-nothing mentality for good?

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Featured image courtesy of r. nial bradshaw
3 replies
  1. Davina Woodward
    Davina Woodward says:

    I agree with this. For years I believed that I wasn’t really writing unless I was sitting in front of my computer with a fresh pot of coffee and specific music playing. Actually, I write all the time. I have a cute book with lined paper that I carry around with me. I whip it out when inspiration strikes and I am not in front of my computer. I write myself notes on how to make a scene I wrote better on the next draft. I write myself notes for the next scene or chapter or even ideas for a new scene that I hadn’t originally planned to include. It is freeing to know that what I am doing adds to the process. When I do end up in front of the computer, I am not intimidated by the blank screen.

    Reply
  2. Zara Quentin
    Zara Quentin says:

    So true Jen! I use those pockets of time for doing (intentional) social media and brainstorming and planning a project. Pockets of time are great for those tasks you can use a notepad and pen or phone, rather than waiting for the laptop to boot up (mine is being particularly slow today…). It means that when you do get 1+ hours free for writing, you don’t get distracted by the other stuff!

    Reply

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