The Psychology of Writing: Tips to Keep You Gaining on Your Goal

1. Gather Writing Allies

Although writing is a solitary pursuit, finding others who share similar goals can be invaluable. Writing allies both cheer your accomplishments and buoy your spirits when things aren’t going well. Together, you can pool your knowledge and help lift each other to new heights.

2. Banish Writing Enemies

These may be friends, family members, or even spouses who discourage your pursuit of writing goals. Some fear of losing your attention; others worry you’ll be crushed by the “big bad world’s” rejection. Still others don’t want you stealing the limelight from their dramas. Stop talking to these enemies about your writing. You’re only giving them ammunition to shoot down your dreams.

3. Do Your Homework

Whether it’s listening to an author speak, reading a how-to book by a publishing professional, or browsing writers’ websites on the Internet, take the time to learn what’s expected in the industry and what’s selling in the market.

4. Muzzle Your Internal Editor

It’s impossible to write with self-doubt perched on your shoulder muttering about what a talentless fraud you are. To quiet her, I set aside a time for writing and a separate time (usually the next morning, before I start on new material) for her to help me edit the last scene I wrote. Every now and then, I hand her a pen and have her list “Five Reasons I Can’t Possibly Write This Book.” Shuts up the old battle-axe every time.

5. Trick Yourself into Productivity

Set achievable, but ambitious deadlines for completing projects. Break down your large goal into small, bite-sized bits and mark each target page or word-count on a calendar. Underneath each day’s goal, record what you’ve accomplished. Don’t worry if you miss daily goals, but try to hit the weekly ones. Reward yourself periodically, and learn to finish what you start. This will be great practice to help you meet publisher-imposed deadlines.

6. Learn to Accept Feedback

Join a critique group. Take suggestions that ring true, and discard those that don’t. Do the same with feedback from contests, editors, and agents.

7. Separate Yourself from Your Product

Repeat after me: your writing is not you. A manuscript’s success or failure has no bearing on your worth as a person. When you finish one project, start a new one to gain emotional distance from the one that you’re submitting. Remember, no book every written has had the power to please every reader. So get over the fact that yours won’t be the first, and be content to put out the best work that you can.

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