Several months ago, I made a decision to “Go For It”. That decision, and my commitment to it, changed everything. As much as people in our lives impact the direction our writing lives take, it comes down to what we choose for ourselves.
Let me back up a bit, because that decision did not come because of some major breakthrough one random moment. A lot of time and small decisions along the way led me to the fork in the road where I had to choose, to go for it, or quit all together.
Small decision #1
By July of 2018, I had spent two years trying to come up with a new story idea I could truly sink into. Ideas were oddly (for me) quite numerous, and I wrote thousands of words on each of them. Ultimately, I felt they were either not going in a direction I wanted to write, or they were stories I did not yet know how to tell. I set one story aside, come up with another one, only to eventually set that one aside as well.
I researched all kinds of things to help me: history, geography, psychology, politics. I studied how to plot better, how to use description effectively, and how to determine goal, motivation, and conflict for each character, for each scene.
My frustration persisted.
I needed to take a break and so I declared August 2018 a hiatus from writing and focused my energy on reading. The hiatus gave me a chance to catch up on reading fiction for fun, no research, no non-fiction whatsoever, with the intention to give my stressed-out creative mind a break. I wanted to see how it felt not to write, if some other hobby or creative outlet might take its place. After the four week break, I would know whether the hiatus would end at the beginning of September, stretch longer than August but end eventually, or become a permanent end to writing.
It felt great to read a book, cover to cover, in a week or only a few days. I couldn’t remember the last time that happened. In thinking about what else I might want to do, that could replace writing in my life, I tried my hand at one of those cement mosaic things. It was fun for about 10 minutes. Not surprisingly, I didn’t take a picture of it.
3 factors that impacted Small Decision #1
- Any decision I made about my writing career, also impacted my business as a writing coach. By August 2018, I had pretty much let my coaching slide into nothingness. I couldn’t justify continuing to call myself a writing coach if I wasn’t writing. Alternatively, if I returned to writing, I did not have to coach.
- During my hiatus, I realized that there was nothing I wanted more than to write. It was all I have ever wanted and I could not picture myself doing anything else. Nothing held my interest or my passion. Boredom set in by the time I picked up the fourth novel to read. I wanted to write, I just didn’t know what.
- My anti-depressants had stopped working and so I was in the long process of switching medication. I had been taking one medication for several years. I can safely say it stopped working about a year before I told my doctor. There were many dark days, and I am forever grateful to Ebby for reminding me that I am loved and needed. It is not an overstatement to say that she probably saved my life on more than one occasion. My doctor is also pretty amazing and she helped me safely make the long transition. By the end of August, early September, things were looking up.
Small Decision #2
I ended my writing hiatus in October 2018. Though still had nothing to write, I knew quitting wasn’t an option. If I wanted to take my writing to the next level, I needed help to get there. Much like I didn’t know what to write, I didn’t know what kind of help I needed or how to get it.
Yes, this links to book 1. If you’re going to start with the books, you’ve got to start with book 1!
I wanted to try something different. Maybe there’s a podcast that could help me! Of course, instead of listening to writing podcasts, or writing/business podcasts like The Creative Penn, Self-Publishing 101, or even Kobo’s Writing Life Podcast.
I discovered the Goal Digger podcast with Jenna Kutcher. Jenna is a wedding photographer whose podcast is a business building podcast for creative entrepreneurs.
I loved Jenna’s authenticity, her focus on creativity other than writing, and the workshop/online course style of her podcast. I downloaded every episode and started binge listening. Though I didn’t know how this might help my writing, it might inspire me and my coaching business.
As much as I loved the podcast, I kept thinking, “Ugh. So much work! I don’t want to do that!”
You’d think I would have stopped listening to the podcast then, but no, I kept going. I don’t know if it’s Jenna’s voice, her teaching style, podcast content, or all of it which kept me coming back, but come back day after day I did.
Small Decision #3
I’d figured out what kind of help I needed for my writing. If I wanted to Go For It, to take my writing to the next level, I needed a mentor. As I pondered how to go about getting the kind of mentor I needed, I received an email from an online writing community I’m a member of, BroadUniverse, announcing a new mentor program, with a link to the application. The pairings of mentors and mentees would take place in January, which gave me time to write to have something to submit, should I be accepted.
Small Decision #4
By now my anti-depressants had stabilized and I finally felt like I could do more than one thing at a time. And by one thing at a time I mean, go to work and have nothing left to give but to sit on the couch and sleep.
Jenna Kutcher’s talking about the necessity of building your email list. She’d said it many a time before, but a part of me began to think if I just started, maybe I could make this coaching thing, well, a thing.
A few times throughout her podcast, Jenna mentions Amy Porterfield, so I decide one day to Google this Amy Porterfield. I think I briefly scanned her website but then had to get back to work.
Lo and behold, an ad for Amy’s List Builder’s Lab (now List Builder’s Society), pops up on my Facebook feed that afternoon. It’s like she knows! She can read my mind! (The Facebook Pixel on her website told her I visited and she targeted me that way). The ad is for her webinar on list-building.
If I’m going to make this writing thing work, and this coaching thing a thing, I’ve got to build my email list. Other than having a freebie, I had no idea what else to do. I signed up for the webinar, and by the end of the day, I had signed up for Amy’s List Builder’s Lab and had started strategizing on how to most effectively build my email list. I had one, of 45 people, which I had pretty much abandoned for a few years.
Small Decision #5
What I really wanted to do, was take the material I’d created for the coaching workshops I’d given in person and online, and create a digital course or two. If I was going to get back to building my coaching business, maybe now would be the time to do it. I’d only been talking about it for a few years.
In a conversation with my parents about this one day, my mom asked why I hadn’t done it yet. I said I had to write and record the lessons. She asked when I was going to do that. I figured my two weeks in December would be fine for that.
December came and my focus was on blog posts and emails. I also didn’t know what I didn’t know about creating digital courses. I just knew that there was a lot about digital courses that I didn’t know.
Again, Amy Porterfield was reading my mind, or we’re just in sync this way. She launched her Digital Course Academy in January 2019, and I knew, without a doubt, I wanted in.
My email list was growing. I love Amy’s step-by-step approach, and whoo-wee she knows her stuff! If I was serious about my coaching and teaching an online course, this was the direction for me.
Side note: If you’re thinking about creating a digital course, check out Amy’s Course Creation Starter-Kit.
Side note: If you know you want to create a digital course but you’re not sure what kind, check out Amy’s fun quiz.
So by early January, I was all in on my coaching business. But what about my writing?
Small Decision #6
Broad Universe accepted my mentee application and I was paired with Lyda Morehouse. Fantastic! Great! Awesome! Yes! What to send her? That novel I’d been working on had gone nowhere, yet again. I pulled out an older one, one I’m still passionate about, which had received decent feedback, but clearly something was missing.
Lyda’s feedback was intense and detailed and like none I had ever received before. She pointed out what was wrong with the story, what I did right, what I needed to do more of to stand out.
I feel like she righted my path, shone a light, and encouraged me to keep going while doing better. My enthusiasm for writing, while not entirely back, was returning.
The Big Decision: To Go For It, or Not To Go For It!
By now you’d think my obvious decision is to Go For It! Well, yes and no. I’d created my digital course, I launched it, I still struggled with my writing, and I kind-of crashed and burned from doing so much. Remember, my usual pattern was to go to work, try to write, and not much else.
The difference this time: I knew my path. I loved working on creating my course, and I loved writing. On my way to dinner with a friend, I could not stop thinking about how my coaching and writing are so intertwined.
One of the things I talk about a lot, is the comparison of writing habits and practices with those of athletes. What makes someone become a world-class athlete, or writer?
They Go For It!
They decide what they want, and they put in the work. If it means practicing for hours a day, they will. The main goal is their main focus and they work at it, whether they feel like it or not. Whether they’ve had a stressful day at work, or not.
I’ve been all in before. I’d been afraid to do it again.
I have to admit, here, that I’d let my course-creation distract me from my writing. It’s a fine balance, writing and coaching, and having a day-job. I’ve let one take priority over the other, and I’ll probably do it again.
But what I realized that evening in the car, I needed to make writing my main goal again. I needed to go all it. To Go For It!
I knew that once I made that decision, it wasn’t going to magically happen. There were things I still needed to figure out, but once I was all in, those things would get figured out.
Being All In, Going For It, has freed my creativity the way that initial hiatus was supposed to. I’ve made time for writing again, and I’ve figured out how to fix a few major problems with the story itself. My enthusiasm for writing is back.
This also means a change in how I coach and teach my Daring Writer Academy (doors opening again in Fall of 2019). We’re all busy, we all have stress, we all have responsibilities. If we want to write, we have to be all in. I know it isn’t easy. If you want help to get there, I am here for you.
If you need a little boost in your motivation, if you need something to bust through that self-doubt that’s blocking you, download my Free Guide here. You will also be added to my email list and receive notice from me when new blog posts are available, and other news about my coaching, programs, and other fun things, that you won’t get on my blog.
If, like me, you need a mentor or coach, and you don’t want to wait until my program opens again, send me an email requesting a complimentary discovery session at sherry @ sherrypeterscoach . com (take out the spaces), and we’ll talk!
This has been a transformative year for me, for my coaching and my writing. I learned a lot, I shifted my focus, and now it is time to settle in and make some real progress on my goals.
What decisions are you facing right now? What small decisions have you made over the past few months that are leading you to the big one?