Lately I have been struggling to complete projects.
This is probably because I have been working quite hard and intensely ever since I quit the day job to focus on my new carer of being a full-time author and a creative professional.
And how wonderful it feels to no longer be a corporate clone where my soul was being sucked dry daily.
The freedom I have to create is slowly renewing my soul. I find each day exciting. I’m waking up before my alarm goes off (and this NEVER happened whilst I was at the corporate grind I can tell you). But as I left the corporate chains I accidentally acquired new chains. And those chains can be called doubt and fear.
Now that the excitement of quitting the day job has passed I’m very much facing each day working with an unruly employee who perhaps procrastinates a little too often and is not writing as much as she said she would when she first signed up to this job.
Yes that’s, right, I’m feeling like my energy is a little low and I had a think about why that could be and here are my insights:
I’m doing too much at the same time. I’m feeling overwhelmed with the amount of things I think I should be doing rather than focusing on the one thing I need to be doing i.e. stop fretting about building audiences, running a podcast, being on all social media sites but instead to write that book first. I know it sounds like such plan common sense but common sense I guess is not so common.
I start multiple projects simultaneously. I find I keep taking on more and more different projects (all of which are mine) but the trouble is that I don’t seem to complete any. They sort of just languish around half done and I don’t seem to get the time to finish them, perhaps because I’m busy starting a new project.
I get that this is probably because I have hit a hard spot on the project and its painful to pass through it. It’s human nature to avoid pain and seek pleasure. So I leave that project and start a new project. I always find starting new projects thrilling and exciting. But as they say it’s always easier to start and finish something, it’s the bit in the middle which needs perseverance and discipline to get through.
If you are also struggling with the above, what steps can you take to push past these barriers? Here are my tips from my own experience:
Build your ‘finishing energy’. We all bring a certain level of energy to the work we do. The best approach I have found is that when completing a task, I need to either do it with joy or acceptance.
Some tasks are joyful like writing. Admin and paperwork is not. So whilst I do my admin. I need to just accept that I need to get this done and do it with a sense of peace rather than resistance.
This will help you to push past the painful bits in your projects and writing and get you hurtling towards the finishing line.
And the wonderful thing is that once you complete the task, your brain gets a little kick and seeks out that feeling again, so in theory it becomes easier to finish the next task as your brain is seeking for that ‘feel good’ feeling again.
You can apply this to your book projects as well. Many authors have said that it is far easier to complete the second and third book once the first one is completed. I really don’t want to be one of those authors who takes 10 years to write their first book. I need to get my book out by the end of 2016 so I need to get writing!
Motivation vs Discipline. Like willpower, motivation can only get you so far. Motivations only flaw is that it is a feeling and as we know feelings are fleeting. That is where discipline comes in.
Discipline creates routines and habits. If you can practise good habits, they become part of your sub-conscious and you will do them automatically. This frees up your time and energy from thinking and deliberating on what to do. The key is to build good habits. And do not be fooled into thinking this is easy. Building habits are hard and I think it takes much more than the popularly touted 21 day rule to build a habit.
Habits take time to build so honour the process and give yourself the best chance by committing to doing the habit everyday.
If you miss one day its ok. Just re-start. I started a writing chain which was unbroken for 19 days. I produced almost 20,000 words in those 19 days which astounded me. I now feel more motivated to write.
Create a writing habit. Commit to writing everyday at a particular time and place. When you do this, you train your brain and body to prepare for the activity. Remember that everyone faces a level of Resistance and the only way to tame it is to do the task you need to do. So set a timer for 10 minutes after breakfast or at lunch or just before bed and write. Keep a notebook handy. Sit somewhere that is conducive to your writing, whether it be a noisy coffee shop or the quiet of a library or a park bench.
Building such habits will put you in good stead as you embark on your author journey.
What are you currently struggling with on your writing journey? Please share below.