Procrastination and distraction are two of my best talents. In fact, I’ve been exercising them quite a bit lately! Which makes it seem like a great time to write about how to get back on track.
Re-examine your motives, not just your goals.
Once you’ve let your discipline slip a little, getting back on track can seem like drudgery. Chances are that when you got behind, you were busy with other things. And those other things don’t just disappear when you decide to get back on track.
When it comes to writing and storytelling, passion is a key element of discipline. Looking only at your goals is only good for giving yourself a kick in the hind-quarters. It doesn’t invigorate the creative urge that got you started in the first place.
Look again at the things that made you want to write about your memories and share your family stories. Think of your audience. The things you want to preserve. They way that you want to preserve them.
Now look at your goals.
Were your goals unrealistic? Has life changed? Or, do you simply need a jump-start as well as a lot more chocolate to reward yourself?
Make sure you’re not setting yourself up for failure. If your goals seem realistic, do you have a plan on how you’re going to achieve them? For instance, if you’ve determined that you want to write about two memories or stories a week, have you figured out how that works into your week? Believe it or not, I’ve tried the “it will just happen” approach. It doesn’t work.
When you’re done beating yourself up, move on.
Sometimes we get so caught up in berating ourselves and regretting the time we’ve lost, we have trouble moving on. At least I do. You may be a lot less neurotic than that. Figure out how you got off track, if you must, but only to learn from it and take evasive action next time you see that particular perfect storm on the horizon.
Break up the writers’ block.
Nothing weakens resolve like writer’s block. It’s a pain in the brain, as well as other places. Some of the most common “cures” are using prompts (Hmmm…. Who has a good book with prompts, and a blog to boot?), writing exercises, and reading others’ stories.
Trick your imagination.
Drew Chial, a blogger I really enjoy reading, has a new idea on how to trick your imagination into focusing on the things you want it to focus on. I won’t steal his imaginary thunder. Read his How to Keep Intrusive Thoughts from Ruining Your Writing and see if his magic works for you.
Banish your inner perfectionist.
If you wait for the perfect inspiration to come at the perfect time, you’ll miss a lot of opportunities. Everything doesn’t have to be inspired. Neither does it need to be worthy of literary accolades.
Write. You can edit later, but get the words flowing on to the page. Lock that perfectionist urge way in a box and just let words find their way to the page. (Yes, you can get it out and play with it later, but not now.)
Break a rule or two
We learn rules so that we can better understand when and why to break them. Give yourself permission to do the opposite of what all the advice columnists say. Perhaps you need to forget about your audience and get in touch with your emotions to get back on track. Perhaps you need a break. Try something different and see if there was a rule that was holding you back.
Read How Writers Get Back on Track
Chuck Wendig’s 25 Ways To Get Your Creative Groove Back As A Writer is meant for professional writers, but makes a lot of good points that almost anyone can benefit from. Plus, just reading his style will make you want to dive for the keyboard and start pounding away.
It’s my favorite, so it was a given that I’d round out the list with it. Brainstorming stimulates creativity an helps develop ideas. If you haven’t tried it, you should. If you have, get back on track by brainstorming your way there.
What’s your best tip for getting back on track? What works best for you?