Procrastinating on Your Romance Novel? 7 Baby Steps You Can Take Today
As a writer, procrastination is a dangerous thing. The goal is to engage with your novel, your work in progress, daily. When you take time away, the motivation, the excitement, and the story start to slip away as well.
I understand procrastination. It happens to me every time I near the end of a story. Pushing through it doesn’t require large goals or entire days chained to your desk. In fact, tiny steps are actually better. They’re certainly easier. If you keep these steps in mind before you get started on any writing project, you’ll be able to stop procrastination before it takes hold.
- Acknowledge the Fear – Realize that most procrastination is rooted in fear. Mine certainly is. Fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of not being good enough. Many people get so tied up in perfection that they can’t finish anything and never succeed, so that fear becomes self-perpetuating and never-ending. Acknowledge that you’re afraid and own it. But set it aside and work through it. If you can let go of judgment and fear as you work through the tasks, you’ll be able to end procrastination.
- Break Up the Project – Your book is a collection of pages, scenes, paragraphs, sentences, and ultimately words. It’s also a collection of steps. You can work through procrastination by working on a sentence, writing a paragraph, or roughing out a scene. You’re not sitting down to write the novel, you’re writing a small part of it. Wrap your brain around that concept and let go of the “whole book” mindset. It’s too much.
- Just Get Started – You may not realize it’s that easy, but it is. Our minds change focus when we get started. It’s like that workout you don’t want to do; in the middle of it, you’re perfectly fine with it. And of course, when it’s over, you’re satisfied that you did it. It’s the same with any work that you don’t want to do. Get started, and someplace in the middle you’ll feel differently.
- Talk About It publicly – Social media is great for this. Just announce on Twitter or Facebook to your friends, or a special group, that you’re writing five pages or that you’re working on a kissing scene right now and will be for the next 90 minutes. Telling people you’re doing it will help you actually do it. You hold yourself accountable. Use the hashtag #amwriting and start connecting with other writers.
- Take Breaks – Get up from your writing desk every hour or so and walk. Move your body and take good care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and drink plenty of water no matter what you’re doing. It will help keep your mind clear and your body healthy. It’ll be easier to come back to that chapter or that revision if you are clear headed and healthy.
- Look for Accountability – If you are having more problems, be sure to find an accountability partner. You can pay for that in a life coach, or writing coach, or you can ask a trusted friend or family member to help you break your pattern of procrastination. Writing groups are excellent for this. There are online groups you can join or local groups that meet face to face. Passionate Ink is an online romance writing group for erotica authors. They’re very supportive.
- Reward Yourself – Everyone likes to be rewarded for a job well done. Work in ways to reward yourself that are healthy. If you finish a huge project on time, get a massage or go to a good movie. Have some fun.
Procrastination doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your romance writing goals. You can control the fear and work through the challenges by taking small steps, planning for procrastination, and pushing yourself just a little bit harder.
There seems to be, as there often is this time of year, a lot of personal reflection.
Reflection is great if it teaches you how to move forward positively and productively. Reflection is destructive if you beat yourself up about what you did wrong and get stuck in that mindset.
Reflect On Your Inner Voice
Consider pausing for a moment and think about what you tell yourself about your writing efforts, aspirations, and skills. Is it positive or negative? Do you lift yourself up or beat yourself up?
Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
What if you could use your self reflection to help you take your romance writing career to the next level in 2017?
Reflection and repeatable daily habits…a powerful combination
For me, the only thing that consistently works are daily repeatable habits. That means that my repeatable habits have to be super easy. There’s no way I’m going to be able to sit down at the computer and write 5000 fiction words every morning before coffee. But I can write 250.
Of course, habits only work if they support you to grow from where you are at right now in your writing career and mindset. And that takes us back to self reflection.
So, let’s get back to how you talk to yourself about your writing. If it’s positive, congratulations! Keep it up and share your secrets to success in the comments section. If you find that you tend to be a bit harsh when you talk to yourself, then it’s time to turn that around.
Through simple daily habits, you can become your biggest romance writing supporter – and don’t you deserve that?
You should be your biggest fan and supporter. You should believe without a doubt that you are making daily progress on your romance writing dreams and goals. You should believe that you are a good writer and that every day you’re improving your skills. Your writing voice is getting stronger and your mastery is increasing.
I realize that may mean baby steps for you. That perhaps your biggest first challenge is actually being able to say, “I’m a romance writer.”
Reflect on where you are right now in your romance writing mindset. Don’t necessarily take a look at your biggest goal or challenge, pull back a bit and look at what is getting in your way.
For example, if submitting your manuscript to agents and editors just isn’t happening even though you want to submit, then reflect on what is getting in your way. Is it self doubt, time, an organization system, fear of failure or success? Maybe you still believe that writing romance is a hobby and you’re not taking it seriously.
Only you know the answer and it may take some time and self reflection to dig it out.
Once you know what’s holding you back…what do you do next? How do you move past it?
My best advice, and it is advice that I personally follow, is to find an affirmation (yes, an affirmation) that makes you smile, fills your heart with joy and motivation, and resonates with you. It may be an affirmation that has already been created or it may be an affirmation that you create yourself based on your current challenges and needs.
I’ve gathered a collection of posts on affirmations for you to take a look at. And, my go to place for affirmations when I’m looking for inspiration is often Louise Hay, http://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/. Her affirmations aren’t writing specific; however, they cover myriad topics and you may find that they give you what you need.
5 Blog Posts on Affirmations
Finally, if you’re interested, you can grab a copy of 365 Romance Writing Affirmations – Power Statements to Boost Confidence, Creativity, & Courage on Amazon – now available in paperback.
Happy New Year and happy writing!
Most romance writers, even those with publishing contracts and advances in their pocket, still have goals and dreams left to achieve.
In my experience as a business owner, a writer, a wife and mom, and as a human being I’ve discovered that one thing really works for me and helps me achieve my goals. That one thing is to take consistent small steps toward an end goal.
Here’s an example, my friend Erica has the goal of publishing a holiday romance novel next year. So, every day she writes 250 words toward that book. Now, Erica is super busy. She’s a mom and she works full time so it really does take a commitment to write 250 words a day. But think about this, after 200 days, she’ll have 50,000 words. She’ll have a book, and that leaves enough time for revisions, edits, and marketing before the 2017 holiday season.
If you’re looking to make 2017 your best romance writing year yet, consider these romance writing resolutions and remember that consistency is the difference maker.
- Write Every Day – Set a realistic goal and follow through. 100 words a day means you’ll have 36,500 words written by the end of the year. Double that and you have a very full novel.
- Submit Your Finished Books to An Agent/Editor/Critique Partner – Get experience submitting and sharing your work. It’ll help you improve your writing and it’ll support you to take your writing more seriously.
- Join A Writer’s Group That Supports You – Writer’s groups help you stay connected to your writing goals. They also support you to take your writing seriously and to share your passion with others. They’re a terrific learning environment too.
- Create A Writing System – Most multi-published writers use a system. Maybe they write an outline first, maybe they write for an hour every morning. Creating a routine helps you develop that consistency required to achieve your goals.
- Embrace Your Writing Voice and Style (It’s What Makes Your Stories Unique!) Love your writing voice and embrace it fully. 100 different writers can all write the same story and each one would be unique if the writer remains true to their voice.
- Call Yourself a Romance Writer – Say it with pride!
- Launch Your Author’s Blog – Books don’t really sell by themselves. You have to market them and you have to market yourself as an author. Create that blog. There is an abundance of top quality resources to help you get started. For example, the Create an Author Website in 24 Hours or Less On Demand Webinar at Writer’s Digest Shop is only $23.
- Promote Your Author’s Blog on Social Media – If you have a social media presence, promote your website. If you don’t have social media profiles, consider creating an author profile so you can promote your book and yourself to potential readers.
- Carry A Notebook and Pen with You to Capture Writing Ideas – Never lose an idea. They come at the strangest times and the one you forgot could have been amazing.
- Get Organized – Use a calendar, use Evernote, use a planner – whatever works for you, but get organized so you don’t lose your writing thoughts, your research, your promotional ideas and your submissions. Your dreams and goals are too important to get lost in the shuffle.
- Enter A Writing Contest (You Can Win Money and Accolades) – It’s awesome to be able to tell an agent or editor that you finaled, placed, or won a writing contest. And if you don’t win, and you won’t win them all, you’ll likely get some valuable feedback on your material.
- Learn About Self-Publishing – Self publishing is a very real and profitable approach to selling your books. Learn what it’s about and decide if it is for you. Many authors publish both traditionally and self-publish.
- Learn About Writing – As a writer you owe it to yourself and your readers to strive to continually improve your writing skills. Plus, it’s fun to learn. So, read a writing book each month, subscribe to writer’s blogs, or listen to webinars and podcasts. There’s so much to learn.
- Find Inspiration – It’s all around you. Identify what inspires you and make it part of your life.
- Establish A System for Revising Your Drafts – If you have a system for writing, you should absolutely have a system for revision. Otherwise, it can take forever.
- Read for Fun – Seriously, there is time in the day to read a few pages in a book and there are so many wonderful books to read!
- Make Your Writing Dreams and Goals a Priority in Your Life – Enough said, right? You deserve to make your goals a priority.
Okay, now there are 17 resolutions here to consider, to make your own, and to embrace into your life. The only person who knows which resolution is right for you, and what is going to help you take your romance writing dreams to the next level is you.
A word of advice…
Choose one resolution. Not three, or five, or all 17. Focus on one. Create a plan to make it part of your life. Once you’ve achieved success say for about three months, then you can look back at this list and choose another resolution.
For example, if I was going to choose to make “writing every day” a habit I’d make sure that for three solid months I was able to write every day. Once I’d achieve that success, I might join a writer’s group or take a writing class and work on another resolution.
I’m so excited for what 2017 has to offer. 2016 had its ups and downs, and taught me to speak up, to fight, and to work just a bit harder for what I believe in. What about you?
She’s a busy Type A business woman and insists on taking him to the doctor. She plays right into his hands. The moment she sees her dad’s face and his new doctor she knows what’s going on. He’s trying to play matchmaker.
The only problem is, her dad really is sick.
What happens? Does her dad’s matchmaking work? Does she fall for the small town doctor?
It’s the holiday season. I’ve spent the past two weeks wracking my brain trying to come up with good gift ideas for friends and family. If you have a writer in your life (or you want to buy a nice little something for yourself) here are a few ideas to consider:
*Coffee or Tea – Most writers that I know are heavy coffee, or tea, drinkers. The caffeine is stimulating and if they’re busy, then it gives them the extra edge they need to persevere and write when they’d rather sleep. And coffee gifts are budget friendly. A nice bag of specialty coffee and a beautiful mug can become part of their daily writing ritual.
*Moleskin Notebook – I have a handy pocket size Moleskin notebook that I take with me everywhere I go. I love it. Any writer needs a small notebook to take with them so they can capitalize on ideas when they occur. Moleskin notebooks are attractive and useful. And they’re budget friendly too.
*Pen – Do you have a favorite pen? I have several. And I could always use another more. I keep them with my moleskin notebook. Give the writer in your life a beautiful pen.
*Bluetooth Keyboard – If your beloved writer has a smart phone or a tablet then they may appreciate a Bluetooth keyboard. There are no connection cables to worry about and it gives their fingers more room to wander. Apple has a fantastic full sized keyboard that fits into my purse! And it’s around $70.
*iPad/Notebook – If you have a bit of money to spend, consider buying the writer in your life a writing device that they can take with them. I have an iPad and I use it often. It’s heavy but it is compact. Google just released a laptop that runs about $250. It’s gorgeous, light, and thin.
*Soy/Beeswax Candle – Aromatherapy can help set the mood for a writer, especially if they’re writing romantic scenes! However, don’t buy a paraffin candle, buy a soy or beeswax candle because they’re free from artificial fragrances and other chemicals that can cause headaches.
*The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron– This is a 12 week course in
creativity and it’s a beautiful book. Whether the romance writer in your life is just getting started or has a few published books under their belt, this book will help them take their writing pursuits to the next level.
*Free Babysitting – If your writer is a parent, give them the gift of babysitting so they can set aside uninterrupted time to write.
* Champagne and Chocolate – Who doesn’t like champagne and chocolate? It’s a great gift and something to enjoy while writing those steamy romance scenes.
*1001 Romance Story Starters – If you know someone who is just getting started as a romance writer or a writer who is stumped for ideas, 1001 Romance Story Starters may help them jump right into creating the next bestseller.
Finally, gift cards to Amazon, Starbucks, and any office supply store are always welcome by most individuals. It gives the writer in your life the opportunity to choose their own gift.
If you’re a little behind in your shopping or you haven’t given your friends and family a list for the holidays, here are a few ideas to take note of:
Rustico Leather – They have journals, binders, iPad cases and so much more. I love, love, love my composition notebook cover. I use it daily. http://www.rusticoleather.com/
Moleskin – I have a small one that I keep in my purse so that anytime I have an idea, I can write it down.
Wreck this Journal – A little writing and creative fun for people who enjoy thinking outside of the box and stimulating their imagination. Get all four or buy just one.
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – “Think you’ve got a book inside of you? Anne Lamott isn’t afraid to help you let it out. She’ll help you find your passion and your voice, beginning from the first really crummy draft to the peculiar letdown of publication. Readers will be reminded of the energizing books of writer Natalie Goldberg and will be seduced by Lamott’s witty take on the reality of a writer’s life, which has little to do with literary parties and a lot to do with jealousy, writer’s block and going for broke with each paragraph. Marvelously wise and best of all, great reading.” Amazon.com Review
The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron – “With the basic principle that creative expression is the natural direction of life, Julia Cameron and Mark Bryan lead you through a comprehensive twelve-week program to recover your creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, jealousy, guilt, addictions, and other inhibiting forces, replacing them with artistic confidence and productivity.” Amazon.com Review
Vintage Typewriter charm necklace – I want one. That is all. It’s cute and symbolic.
Single Serve Coffee Maker – I’m kind of digging this, but I usually drink a pot.
For the record, none of these links are affiliate links.They’re just awesome things that many writers would love to have. I’d love to hear from you. What writing gifts do you want and what gifts have you given?
Your heroine owns and operates a holiday sleigh ride business in Colorado. She hitches a sleigh to her team of horses and takes tourists into the mountains on a romantic ride. When a snow storm catches her off guard she leads her customers to a small ranch owned by your hero. What happens?
Today’s story starter can be found with 1000 others in 1001 Romance Story Starters, available on Amazon in digital or print.