Sunday, October 22, 2023

Do Something To Make Progress

By Terry Whalin

The writing life is a journey not a destination. If Im honest, some days I dont feel like doing the work. I feel stalled and stuck. Maybe you find yourself in that situation and need some ideas what to do. 

Last week I taught at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference and interacted with many authors. On Monday, I felt worn out and reluctant to be at my keyboard. I felt stalled and unsure what I could do in my office. I kept moving forward and eventually accomplished a number of things--but certainly didnt start enthusiastically. The consistent action on your part moving toward your work will pay off. That payoff may not come immediately but in the long run it will happen. The key when you are in a stall or slump is to do something. As you do that something, you will move forward and get going. It's what I did the other day with my own stalled feelings.

When I was stalled, Ive created a detailed system with my social media posts which is why I have a large following and I post 14-15 times a day and only spend about 30 minutes on it each day. With traveling, I had fallen behind on processing these posts. I turned to my system and began using it to get caught up. This simple activity propelled me out of my stall and into action. What helps you will likely be different but the key is to do something which moves your work forward. 

For your writing life, maybe you can write a short article or a guest blog post or a query letter for a magazine idea. Or you could begin a book proposal with a longer book pitch. Or maybe you need to do some follow-up work on something you already have in motion. Use the gentle follow-up approach so you dont get a “no thank you” response.  There is always something more to do but the key is to consistently take action and knock on new doors. You never know when the right opportunity might open for you. If you dont try it, it will certainly not happen. 

Our lives as writers are not straightforward but filled with ups and downs. Success is overrated as a quality and must be earned every day. From my decades in publishing, I know several characteristics are key in this process:

--Persist no matter what. If you get an opportunity, seize it. If you get rejected, knock on a different door to see if that one opens. Your persistence as a writer may take time but will pay off in the long run. 

--Write something even if it is never published.

--Read widely. If you are in stall, one of the ways to get unstuck is to read something that will inspire you and stir new ideas. 

--Write in different areas. Work on your social media feed or write a devotional or a book review or a personal experience article--something outside of what you normally write. 

--Call a friend and check in. Encourage this other person and also get some accountability for your writing. 

Ive given a few ideas but there are many different ways to stir yourself into action and make progress. Heres the critical element: keep moving forward because the world needs our stories and our words. 

When you get stalled or stuck, what steps do you take to get moving and make progress? Let me know in the comments below.


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