3 things you are doing instead of writing

3 things you are doing instead of writing

3 things you are doing instead of writing

I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done. Steven Wright

It’s funny. Sort of. But it also hits way too close to home for many of us. We sit down at our computers with the intention of writing next week’s blog posts or the next 2000 words of our work-in-progress … but far more often than most of us would like to admit, we’re not actually writing.

There are countless blog posts about eliminating distractions and staying focused. Believe me, I’ve read a ton of them. I know all the tips and tricks. You probably do too. The truth is, though, we have to be honest about the fact we are not writing. Then we have to admit what we’re doing instead.

Here are what I think are three of the most common things we writers are doing instead of actually writing.

social media

When you’ve got 5 minutes to fill, Twitter is a great way to fill 35 minutes.  Matt Cutts

Let’s face it, we can spend all day promoting, networking, and building our platforms through social media. But if we are never generating quality content, it won’t matter in the long run how many Twitter followers you have. Yes, social media is important. Yes, we will have to spend time using it. But our first priority needs to be creating quality content {so we have something to keep promoting}.

dreaming

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work. Colin Powell

This one can become a bigger issue than social media. Some writers get so focused on what they hope to accomplish and where they want to be they never actually engage in the “sweat, determination, and hard work” necessary to reach their dreams. Yes, goals matter. Yes, dreams are great. But your writing dreams will never come to fruition if you aren’t investing in putting words on the page.

planning

Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing. E. L. Doctorow

I’ll be honest, this one is my biggest issue.  I’m a planner. I have no less than five books outlined at this very moment. I have notes for three different blog series. My editorial calendar looks amazing. I have an impressive array of lists and plans and timelines. However, if I never sit and write the chapters of those books or the posts for those series, all those plans are worth zilch. Yes, planning is important. Yes, organization can improve your efficiency. But planning to write is NOT the same thing as writing.  

Distractions abound and it’s easy to do the peripheral tasks connected to blogging and writing without ever actually writing. It happens to everyone sometimes. But we have to be proactive and intentional about not letting all of that “stuff” keep us from the real task of writing.

my best tip is accountability!

Find someone who will ask you the hard questions about how you use your writing time. I know I am going to be asked every week if I reached my writing goals. And I know I’m going to have to give an explanation if I didn’t. My writing buddy isn’t mean-spirited; quite the opposite, she’s very encouraging. But she won’t let me slide. And I deeply appreciate her commitment to helping me be a better writer.

Perhaps you need a writing buddy of your own. Mine isn’t even a writer — just a dear friend who believes in me and wants to help me reach my goals. Maybe you are part of a mastermind group or other writing group which can serve that purpose in your life. It may be scary to ask someone to serve this role, but it’s definitely worth it.

Don’t let all the distractions keep you from doing the main thing! And don’t be afraid to ask someone to encourage and support you along the way.

What do you do instead of writing?

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