Are you like me and find it hard to treat your writing like a business this time of year? Not to mention getting anything done. My inbox is jammed with Black Friday specials that are so hard to resist even though I know I should be writing. My chore list is just as jammed with things that must be done by tomorrow before my hungry family arrives. So how do I clean the bathroom and prep the turkey and give the dog a bath and dust the TV and finish up my cases for work and still squeeze in a few hours of writing?
Something’s gotta give, and I don’t want it to be my writing.
How do we respect our writing and treat it like a business when there are so many other things pulling at us that need to get done?
We must give our writing the same respect, the same time, the same priority, that we give holidays, Black Friday shopping, running errands for the kids, obligations at church, obligations with aging parents, another job, a spouse, hobbies, whatever it is. Our writing must earn the same respect—or more—if we want to succeed.
If your writing is a hobby or you’re writing a family history or memoirs or creating a book of recipes to pass onto the family, and it’s more for yourself or for personal gratification, that’s great. You may not need to worry about giving your writing the same respect you would a job. But if you are pursuing your writing as a career, or you want to change lives, and touch hearts and leave a legacy, you need to treat it as such.
My goal for my writing is to impact lives. I want to touch hearts and encourage people and inspire them through my writing ministry. I want to show readers the love of God through my stories. To demonstrate how my faith helps me get through life and daily struggles and how it can work the same for them.
To take anything seriously and pursue it as though it’s important and has a top spot on our priority list, we need to know WHY we’re doing it. Why do you write? Can you explain it to an old friend at a class reunion? Or to someone who thinks it’s a big old waste of time?
Maybe your WHY is you need to make money. There are plenty of writers in the world who must make a living with their writing. It isn’t a hobby. It isn’t something they can play around with when they have time or are in the mood. They must make a living. Maybe they got laid off but still have bills to pay.
Maybe your WHY is you need an extra $800 a month for health insurance premiums that have skyrocketed in recent years. That’s a really big WHY. Maybe you want to stay home with the kids so you have to work from home, and writing is the only thing you know to do to earn money.
Or your story is a calling for you and you want to touch lives with it. You believe the Lord has given you a gift and you want to use it for his glory. That is a huge WHY.
What is your WHY?
If you’ve not thought about your WHY lately, or maybe you’ve never thought about it, you need to remind yourself of why you’re doing this.
Maybe you haven’t thought about it beyond thinking writing is fun. It’s cool to think about writing a book. You do it to unwind or record your thoughts. That’s fine. All those things are true. But it’s important to have a specific WHY if you’re going to respect your writing.
I enjoy swimming. It’s fun. It’s good exercise. But I don’t swim every day. My WHY for swimming is: It’s fun. I like it. It cools me off in the summertime. I get to spend time with the kids.
That’s not a big enough WHY to go after it like a dog after a bone. A really big WHY that would probably get me out of bed early in the morning would be training for the Olympics. I would be in the pool for hours every single day. I would respect swimming a lot more than: It’s fun. My friends and I enjoy doing it on vacation.
Maybe you don’t know your WHY right now. Solomon wrote in the book of Proverbs in the Bible that Wisdom is found in the multitude of counselors. Who do you spend your time with? Ask them, what is my WHY. How much respect do I show my writing? How important do you think my writing is to me?
I may think I treat my writing with respect and give it a high priority, but other people may not have a clue based on my behavior. Actions speak louder than words. If no one around you knows something is important to you, chances are, it’s not.
But if it is important to you, and you want to start treating it with the same respect you give your job and family and prepping your turkey for tomorrow morning, and finally earn a living from it, there are hundreds of little tricks to make your writing a priority.
- Put a shortcut to you current writing project on your desktop. I usually have several. As soon as you log in, the shortcuts are right there. It’s a little bit of a push to get to work.
- Silence your alerts from social media and other distractions so you can focus on your work.
- Put a sign on the door NO DISTRACTIONS. If you have kids in the house, use a reward system. If they give you 60 uninterrupted minutes every evening from 7 to 8 pm, unless someone is bleeding or on fire, at the end of the week they get an extra 60 minutes on their devices. Or 60 minutes up past bedtime on Friday night. Or 60 minutes of you doing a chore they hate. That one would’ve worked great for my son when he was a teenager. He definitely would’ve traded time with me for that one. Whatever works for your family or your situation.
- I don’t have kids at home so most of my distractions are internal. I work well with accountability partners. Nothing inspires me more than shame. Every night post a screenshot of your final word count on Instagram. Tell everyone what you’re doing. Do it every single day. People who follow you will start looking for it.
They’ll ask you: “Hey, what’s going on? For the last 16 days you posted your word count and today, nothing. What’s happening? Did you have surgery? Did you fall down a well?”
Whatever it takes to be diligent with that word count. Whatever little tricks keep you working and productive.
Post here your hurdles to respecting your writing and what you do to overcome them. We’re all in this together. Don’t forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter and please share this post with your writing friends or on your writing groups.