Respect the process to meet your writing goals
Shawna Ayoub Ainslie offers an exercise to integrate into your writing practice, one that’s as much about recognizing where you’ve been as it is about planning where you’re going.
Writer Brenda Ueland, in her book If You Want to Write, describes a writing practice as coming to the page and remaining with it whether or not writing happens. Translation: a true writer shows up even when the words don’t. Ueland adds that, with consistent showing up, the words will follow. She reminds us that inspiration is not the sole requirement for writing; commitment is also necessary.
How often, though, do we forget to celebrate the small victories and focus instead on word counts or larger goals completed? Here’s the deal: we can’t write if we don’t show up in the first place. To stay motivated, we need to recognize and celebrate what we are doing even as we set our goals higher. Witnessing our accomplishments is just as important as holding ourselves accountable to our established standards.
I have touched lightly on this when applying what I learned from gym life to writing. Skill-building and strength (mental and physical) happen incrementally. We improve through conscious repetition of learned techniques. Further, we all build skills and strength at different rates, so we cannot base our own improvement on someone else’s, even though many of us do.
The only writer you are in competition with is yourself.
So what does it mean to respect the process, and how can you do it to meet your writing goals?
Try this exercise
Make a list of goals you are currently working toward. Now break each goal into smaller steps, noting those you have already completed. Don’t be afraid to further break down the smaller goals. Remember that showing up to the page is its own victory.
The point of this exercise is to recognize the steps you’ve already taken to reveal the progress you’ve made, and to motivate you to keep working at the steps that remain. They are all part of the creative process, and you can’t rush the process! Setting goals is important, but breaking those goals into manageable steps is how to go about achieving them with focus and efficiency.
What writing goals are you working toward? Will you try this exercise to break those goals into steps?
Related reading: 3 tips to re-focus your writing energy
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