Most people don’t believe this about me, but I used to be the biggest procrastinating writer in the world. In fact, I was Queen Procrastinating Writer. If I could find something to put ahead of my writing, I would. I once got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed my bathroom floor with a sponge to avoid doing my writing.
I used to have long stretches of time where I wouldn’t do any writing. My longest stretch was two years.
But in 2008, I had enough. I didn’t know what the hell my problem was, but it was time for me to get serious about creating the writing career I wanted for myself. And also writing that novel I’d been talking about writing since I was 13.
Because it was torturous to go to bed every night feeling like I let myself down and didn’t do the writing that was burning inside me. I couldn’t take it anymore.
So I decided I was going to write my first novel that year, by my birthday in September. And to help me stay accountable and get some consistency in my writing life, I’d also start a blog so I could write about my journey to writing my first novel, and motivate, inspire, educate and empower other procrastinating writers who struggled like I did.
My commitment was to write and publish one blog post a week for a year. It was the first time I’d ever been consistent with my writing. I missed a few weeks here and there, but by the end of the year, I’d written around 30-40 blog posts. Not too shabby for a writer who couldn’t stop procrastinating.
But I still wasn’t making a ton of progress on my creative writing goals. I wrote a novel, but I still hadn’t published a novel.
It wasn’t until several years later (in 2015) when I finally had enough of my BS excuses around why I couldn’t finish my novel and put it out there. I set a publication date and that was that. I got it out into the world.
I rode that high for a few months, but I’d fallen right back into my usual patterns of procrastinating and not doing my writing. I justified it by saying that I’d published a novel already that year.
But so fucking what? If I want to be an author of hundreds of books, both fiction and nonfiction, I don’t have time to sit around twiddling my thumbs and not doing my writing. I had to do something major.
Then in 2016, everything shifted. I met a mentor who has written and published 47+ books (46 of which have been bestsellers). She inspired me to step it up BIG TIME in my writing life. That year, I wrote 9 new books and published 7 of them in different capacities (5 on Amazon, 2 as freebies on my blog).
And in 2017, I’m even more driven and focused and getting even more writing done than I ever have before. I’m currently writing anywhere from 3,000-5,000 words a day, and sometimes upwards of 7,000. All on my various writing projects (as a multi-passionate author I could never just work on one thing).
So, how did I get here? How did I go from avoiding my writing by doing ridiculous household chores to writing thousands of words a day, unleashing new books on the regular and publishing blog posts almost daily?
1. Have A Bigger Vision
When I first started my blog in 2008, I didn’t have a vision that went past that first year. I was just going to write and publish one post a week and blog about my journey to writing my first novel. But once I accomplished that, I needed to create a bigger vision for what I was doing. Otherwise I’d never stick with it.
That vision has shifted A LOT over the years and will continue to, as I learn and grow and change. But it started with one thing… teaching writers craft.
In 2009, I discovered Larry Brooks and his teachings on story structure. It changed everything for me. It upended my entire writing life and what I knew and had done up to that point. No one was teaching structure the way he was and I knew I needed to help spread this message and change writers lives the way it changed mine.
My novel, SoundCheck, and the one I’m working on right now (and all the ones that come after) wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for what I learned from Larry about craft. So sharing the message of craft was major for me. It kept me going, especially when things got tough and when I wanted to give up and quit.
And then that vision shifted again when I finally embraced the fact that I’m multi-passionate.
Instead of trying to run from it or trying to keep everything I was doing and wanted to do totally separate, I decided to create a personal brand and put everything under it. Because at the end of the day, I’m my brand, just like you are yours.
And now the vision for my company is bigger than it’s ever been. I’m no longer just on a mission to teach writers craft. I’m now on a mission to shake up the writing industry by changing the way writers think and challenging what they believe is possible.
That is the vision I’m living for right now.
But I never could’ve seen that in the beginning of my journey. I only came to this bigger vision by starting with a smaller vision and growing from there.
Journal Prompt: what’s the bigger vision for your writing life? What’s a smaller vision you can achieve right now that would be a stepping stone to that bigger vision?
2. A Why
Having a “why” is kindling that fuels the motivational fire. My why is freedom. It’s my core value in life and the biggest reason why I’m an entrepreneur.
Maintaining that freedom is a great motivator for me to show up every day and do the work. Especially considering the stakes of not showing up are so much higher now.
You can’t really procrastinate when your living depends on you showing up.
Journal Prompt: what fuels your motivation? What’s your why?
3. A Purpose
The purpose of what I do as an author is to inspire, motivate, educate and empower multi-passionate authors to go all in on their dreams, and create a life and writing business where they never have to choose just one thing. That is the purpose that drives everything I do now in my own writing business. Every book I write, every blog post I publish, every workshop I teach. Everything.
By having a purpose for what I’m doing, it makes it all the more critical that I show up and do the work. I have people counting on me to do my writing and get it out there, so they can get what they need from it to heal, transform and create.
Procrastination is no longer an option for me.
Journal Prompt: what’s the purpose behind your work as a writer?
Creating consistency in my writing life is the only way I’ve been able to overcome my procrastination. Because the things you do consistently become a habit. And habits make it almost impossible not to do the work.
I have a habit of getting up in the morning and taking my dog for a walk. We may miss a few days a year due to weather or things like that, but overall, we walk every single morning. This is a habit that I created for us because I wanted to make sure he was getting enough exercise. We only started this habit a few years ago, but now I wouldn’t even think about not walking him because it’s just a natural part of my morning to do so.
Well, same goes with my writing. I just created a daily habit of doing my writing, first things first, before I do anything else or let the world in. And that daily consistency is what helped me to overcome the procrastination that used to run rampant in my life.
Journal Prompt: where are you not being consistent in your writing life? How can you step it up to start to create habits around doing the things that matter?
5. Master Craft
Whether you’re blogging, writing novels, self-help books, poetry or memoir, you have to master the craft of the writing you’re doing. There are principles and guidelines for each type of writing, and it’s your job as a writer and author to figure out the craft you need to master.
There’s no excuse for not knowing your craft.
And when you know craft and you thoroughly inside and out understand the nuances of the type of writing you’re doing, procrastination becomes a thing of the past. Because when you know what you’re doing, it lessens your desire to procrastinate.
Journal Prompt: what pieces of craft do you still need clarity on? What do you need to practice more?
6. Planning and Development
Back when I used to be a major procrastinator, I not only didn’t know craft, but I didn’t know how to plan and develop my ideas into actual words on the page. So it was easier to avoid the page completely than it was to face a blinking cursor on a blank screen.
But once I started to learn craft and then created processes for planning and developing my ideas into stories and self-help books, I felt less need to procrastinate. I was actually excited to sit down and get to work on writing the draft of the story or nonfiction book.
Planning and development ahead of time gives you a roadmap for doing the writing. And that makes everything easier.
Journal Prompt: how can you incorporate planning and developing your ideas into your current writing life, in a way that feels good to you, but still allows for ease and productivity?
7. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway
One of the biggest reasons most writers procrastinate is fear. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of the unknown… insert whatever fear you have going on. And many writers allow this fear to stop them from doing the writing or from going all the way and finishing.
But the thing about success and about becoming a successful writer is you have to be able to feel the fear and then do the writing anyhow.
If you allow the fear to overcome you, you’ll continue procrastinating forever and never accomplish what you want. So you have to find ways to push past the fear. To allow it to be there and still do your writing anyhow.
I’m scared all the time with regard to the writing I’m doing and putting out there. But I don’t let it stop me. I just put it out there and move on to the next thing.
Journal Prompt: where do you need to be ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyways’ in your writing life?
8. Make Health A Priority
For a long time I didn’t think about or take care of my health. Back when I was procrastinating the worst I ever had, I was also feeling the worst I ever had.
I was suffering with back, neck and shoulder pain from an accident I had as a teenager, which made sitting for long periods of time painful. And I had all kinds of stomach pain and other issues from undetected food sensitivities.
So of course I procrastinated. It’s very hard to push through the “I don’t feel like it” excuse when you actually feel like shit all the time.
When I started taking control of my health, changing my food habits, eating differently, moving my body more often and getting under the care of an upper cervical chiropractor is when things shifted for me health-wise. Which, in turn, shifted my procrastination habits.
Journal Prompt: how can you make taking care of your health a nonnegotiable? What do you need to be doing that you’re not right now?
9. Reprogramming the Subconscious Mind
I’ve been reprogramming my old thoughts, beliefs and ways of being for years now. And it’s paying off big time.
By reprogramming my old thoughts and beliefs, I’ve been able to install new beliefs and thoughts that support my goals, rather than continuing to live by the thoughts and beliefs that are blocking me from achieving them.
Your subconscious mind is a powerful creative force, and it’s always running in the background, creating by default. And it will continue to give you more of the same until you finally take charge and change it.
Journal Prompt: how can you create a daily mindset practice that will support you in creating new beliefs and thoughts that are aligned with your goals? What can you include in your practice that would feel great for you?
And that is how I’ve been able to overcome procrastination to write and publish 10+ books and more than a thousand blog posts (and counting).
I believe that writers are messengers for the world. If you identify as a writer and you know with every ounce of your being that writing is in your blood, then you’re meant to be sharing your writing with the world. It’s a huge honor to be someone who writes words that transforms others.
But it’s also a huge responsibility to get over whatever excuses and bullshit I have going on, so that I can do the writing that I need to be doing day in and day out. Because it matters whether or not I show up every day.
And I get that now. Fully getting that and taking it to heart is the thing that has truly allowed me to step into the identity of the writer and author I dream of being. And procrastination isn’t a part of that identity.
You can do the same thing. It’s a choice, and the choice is yours.
Write with a purpose, live with intention,
P.S. If you’re ready to kick procrastination to the curb and finally finish what you started, the doors to my upcoming workshop, FINISH Your Damn Novel: 30 days of kick-ass motivation, inspiration and getting-writing-done for writers who have started a first draft or the revision of a novel and want to FINISH, are opening tomorrow. Get on my email list here so you’re the first to get in.
Not everyone agrees with this statement, but I truly believe we can have anything that we want, no matter what it is.
But in order to get what you want, there’s something you have to do first. And it’s a biggie.
Without doing this one thing, you may not get exactly what you want. And yeah, sure, you can always accept a consolation prize. Something that’s close to what you want and makes you feel pretty good too.
Except it’s not what you really want, and you deserve to have everything that you want–especially in your writing life.
The problem most writers–and people in general–have is they’re willing to settle, to accept something mediocre in place of what they really want.
I used to be like that too.
How To Not Get What You Want
When I was in college I had a desktop computer that died after a year of buying it, and so I had to buy a new one. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a Sony Vaio laptop (those were really popular when I was in college).
I knew it was a top-of-the-line computer and that it would last a hell of a lot longer than the refurbished desktop I’d been using. Plus, I wanted a laptop so that I could do my school work and writing wherever I felt like (and not be chained to the desk in my dorm room).
Except when I got to Best Buy to purchase my new laptop… they were out of stock on the Sony Vaio laptops. They had none left in the store.
I was extremely disappointed. But then the sales guy told me that I could buy a Toshiba laptop instead which would be just as good and would cost about half the price of the Sony.
And because I wanted instant gratification–because I wanted to walk out of the store with a laptop that day–I settled. I let him talk me into buying the Toshiba.
Got back to my dorm room, loved the new laptop for a couple weeks… and then it started overheating and shutting down on me without warning, and I kept losing stuff. I spent 3 hours researching and writing an article for the school paper and right before I hit “save” the fucking laptop shut down on me and I lost the whole thing (the laptop didn’t have Word, only Microsoft Works, which didn’t have a “document recovery” option at the time).
I was devastated.
Not to mention I took the Toshiba in to the Best Buy Geek Squad at least 5 times and no one could ever fix what was wrong with it. And when I called Toshiba customer service directly, the guy I spoke with gave me bad instructions and I ended up losing my entire music library of 3,000+ songs. (I was even more devastated about that, because music is my air.)
I was really pissed off. Mostly at myself.
Because I settled. I went to the store knowing what I wanted, and I let someone talk me into getting something else because what I wanted wasn’t available. Because I would’ve had to wait a little bit longer to have it.
The funny thing is, people do this to themselves ALL the time. You wanted to buy the blue one, but they only had red so you got red. Rather than just waiting for blue to be available or going online and trying to find the blue one, you just settle and buy the red.
And the truth is, when you’re settling in one area of your life, you’re likely settling in several.
So, where are you settling when it comes to your writing dream? Where are you telling yourself that you can’t truly have what you want, and instead accepting a mediocre version of it?
There’s only one way to get exactly what you want, every single time you want something. Whether that’s in your writing life, buying a computer or anything else you want: You have to close off all other options.
What does that mean?
It means acting like there is no other option available. You’ll get what you want or die trying.
If I went into Best Buy back in college and had closed off all other options beforehand, I would’ve walked out of the store without a laptop that day… but I’d have walked back in a few weeks later when they had more and then walked out with a Sony Vaio in my hands. No settling.
Let’s say you want to be a bestselling author. It’s a dream you’ve had your whole life. You’ve imagined it more times than you can count.
But since you have no idea how to make it happen, you settle. You put your book out into the world and then you let it sit. You make a few sales, but the book doesn’t become a bestseller.
And you’re OK with that–because you’ve been told that you can’t always get what you want.
Except none of the BS is true.
You CAN have what you want. You can have it ALL.
But the only way is to close off all other options.
If being a bestselling author was your only option… you’d keep at it ’til it happened. You’d work your ass off bringing that dream to life. You’d accept nothing less than bestseller status. You’d market and sell your book 24/7 if that’s what it took.
Problem is, too often we want something, but we’re not fully committed to having it, and so when we’re offered a consolation-prize version of what we want, we settle. We call it good enough and move on.
And that’s why you don’t always get what you want.
Because getting what you want means NOT settling. It means holding off, waiting, being patient. It means knowing that it might take a year or a few years or a lifetime to make it happen, and being OK with that.
When you close off all other options, that means you’re not open to getting anything but what you want. And by being that committed to what you want AND doing the work to make it happen, there’s no way in hell you won’t get it at some point. It’s inevitable.
That’s what it really takes to get what you want. To get exactly what you want. Every single time. No exceptions.
Share With Us
What do you want for your writing life? And how are you going to close off all other options so that getting what you want becomes inevitable?