Writers face many obstacles in bringing their creativity to the world. Many of these self-crated obstacles are habits borne out of excuses created by specific and familiar challenges. Whether searching for a breeze in the creative doldrums, or being distracted by irrelevant activities, a few good habits will keep successful writers focused and productive. Self-discipline, and not self-indulgence, is the key to unlocking productivity.
The first important habit for any writer to recognize and adopt is that writing is an occupation that requires continuous effort and dedicated attention. Plan it into your schedule regardless of whether you feel like doing it. Put aside the hangover, allergies, lack of sleep or other excuse and develop the discipline to sit and write as you have planned. When the dreaded writers block hits you, stay focused on the work and write whatever you can, regardless of how you feel about it. Paddling through the doldrums and pushing through the excuses is what makes the difference for a successful writer.
In addition to being disciplined about when you work, be as diligent about how you work. We are surrounded by electronic gadgetry that is designed to keep you informed and connected with everyone else in the world. It is not necessary to do so all the time. Avoid distractions like email, text messages, television, music and being lost in the web while you are writing. Pinging noises interrupt your thoughts and break your creativity. When doing research or fact checking online, be focused on what you are looking for and know when to stop – the web is full of trails that lead everywhere but where you are trying to go. Forcing peace and quiet frees your mind to focus on your work.
Mental discipline is just as important as work discipline. Stay positive and focused on productivity. Avoid playing the “What if…?” game, where you keep asking “What if…?” and then complete the question with “… nobody buys it?”, or “… they don’t like me?” or some other negative thought. How can any positive result come of this thinking? Instead, focus on what you can do, and do it, even if the progress seems very small at times.
Sometimes we push ourselves into a comfortable box that feels like an uncomfortable compromise. Our creativity takes us way beyond what we thought might be a comfortable body of work. Don’t suppress or ignore these creative ideas. Let your creativity lead you into new places – even if that seems a little scary at first. Innovation and change can be difficult for most people. Breakthroughs and real growth don’t happen when people stay in their shells and never attempt anything new or different.
Being creative also means allowing your unique character to shine. Focus your energy on how to make your work unique and reflective of you and your own perspectives, rather than comparing yourself to others or trying to make your work just like everyone else’s. Comparing yourself to other successful writers is only useful if you learn tips and techniques that will help you in your own journey. Attempting to emulate someone who has already achieved success will only increase your frustration and your true creative strengths will be suppressed.
Whether you have just started your outline, or have a partially developed manuscript or even a complete manuscript ready for editing, don’t allow your own excuses, beliefs and distractions to prevent you from moving forward. Be your authentic self, be disciplined, and write on.