Hi there, and welcome to The Daring Writer. I’m Sherry Peters of sherrypeterscoach.com. I am an award-winning author and a coach for writers looking to bust through the block, the self-doubt, and the fears holding them back.
Do you ever feel like you are sabotaging your writing time? I mean, you are actively filling up your time with loads of extra tasks, like volunteering, or taking a couple of classes outside of work, or maybe even taking on an extra side-hustle or two.
That was me two years ago. I did everything possible to sabotage my writing time. I decided to move. That meant getting my place ready for showings, getting it up on the market, selling it (yay!), and then finding a new place and packing. Every one of those steps took time: hours and sometimes days. Add on top of that the anxiety that comes with it all, wondering if my place was going to sell? Would I ever find a place I liked? As wonderful as it all was, it was also very stressful.
When I experience stress, I end up in bed for a couple of days with a migraine. I ended up spending a lot of time hiding in the dark over those few months.
All of that time away from my writing set me way back in the novels and stories I had planned to complete.
I am privileged to be in a situation where I can choose to move, am able to sell my home, and can afford to buy another. I moved almost two years ago now, and I still love my place. The move was absolutely a good thing. So why do I consider this self-sabotage?
The move wasn’t necessary. I didn’t have to move. I wasn’t being evicted. I could afford the mortgage and my condo fees. Where I lived was quite nice. It felt like home. There was no reason I had to move. I simply wanted more conveniences, like central air conditioning and no stairs to climb, and I wanted them before summer.
Did I decide to move to intentionally sabotage my writing? No. I did need a change of some sort, though, and moving was the one kind of change I could make. I expected that moving to a place that was more physically comfortable, could only make my writing life better than it already was.
I hadn’t counted on how much work or stress was involved with moving. Apparently time really does make you forget the worst of things.
Since my move, I have done plenty to sabotage my writing time, though never on quite so large a scale. I learned something during that chaotic time that has helped me re-focus a lot faster. And on those days when I think I’m too busy to write, I am reminded of this lesson, and I make the time to write.
What was it that I learned? How did I get myself back on track after sabotaging so much of my time that I was beginning to believe that I shouldn’t bother picking up my writing again?
As it happens, amidst the chaos of the move, I had the fantastic crime writer S.G. Wong as a house guest for a few days and we got to talking about my self-sabotage. I asked her about how she manages her writing time with family and other commitments, and she said it comes down to one thing: commitment.
At first I thought she meant determining “How committed are you?” which, as a coach, is a question I always ask.
She said that it wasn’t about how committed you are. It isn’t about what you’re willing to give up for your writing. First and foremost, it is about being committed. Period. It is about keeping the promises you’ve made.
When a book contract is signed, a commitment has been made to deliver a manuscript of a certain size, in a specified genre, on a specific date. If that promise is broken, no payment will be received. While we may not have that kind of promise, we still have made writing commitments. Two years ago, I had promised myself that I would submit a story by the end of the month even though I was going to be in the middle of a move. I had also promised my readers that there would be a new book out that summer.
I’m going to throw in a side-note here about accountability partners. When you have the right accountability partner, and the right goals, and the perfect reward, it can be a golden system. My good friend Adria and I made that kind of accountability goal one year. I was to have a first draft done, and she was to have her novel edited by the time I visited her. (She lives Calgary, I live in Winnipeg, a two hour flight away). Any time either of us didn’t want to write or edit, we remembered that we had promised each other and we got back to work. It was easy for us to be OK with not keeping a promise to ourselves. Neither of us wanted to let the other person down. The reward was staying in the convention hotel for Adria’s hometown Science Fiction/Fantasy convention.
For the record: Yes, we stayed in the hotel.
I admit, it has been pretty difficult to come up with that kind of accountability since then. That means I need to keep my promises to myself. I shouldn’t want to let myself down. I am just as important in this equation as anyone else, so I needed to honor myself.
When I am sabotaging my writing time, I remind myself of my commitment to myself and my readers, and I sit down and write. It isn’t always easy to do. It takes time to get back into the story. But I promised. And I feel pretty rotten when I break my promises. I don’t like letting myself down. I hate that feeling in the pit of my stomach when I’m not living up to what I know I can accomplish, because of my own actions.
What about you? What commitments have you made to yourself? To your readers? Are you keeping those commitments or are they falling by the wayside? Ae you self-sabotaging?
I invite you to renew your commitment to your art, and to yourself.
If you would like to explore your commitment to your writing, check out my FREE guide to Jumpstart Your Writing in 3 Steps. It is a great, easy tool, to remind you of your love for writing, and why you committed to it in the first place. Get my FREE Guide Here!
Until next week,