Debunking 5 Common Writing Myths
Is writing constantly dropping to the bottom of your to-list? Do you have a growing pile of half done projects? You may be holding on to myths about writing that are holding you back.
If you’re like many women I work with, you have a list of almost-done projects: revise-and-resubmits, drafts that need to be hacked out, reviews you’ve promised. You’re trying to figure out how to get through this semester, you’re trying to plan next semester, your list of to-do’s is a mile long.
“So much of our writing practice is about our beliefs about writing.”
The reality is that chaos always seems to take over, and writing projects keep dropping to the bottom of the list. Part of the reason that writing projects keep getting pushed out may be because you are holding on to one or more of these 5 writing myths. So let’s break them down, and bust them with some reality checks.
Myth #1: You Need Inspiration to Write
I used to wait for inspiration, or to feel ‘in the mood’ to write. That went right out the window when I had my first baby. There was never a time I felt inspired, or in the mood to write. There was hardly any time to feel anything!
Reality: You Need a System to Write
You need a system, complete with a set of established practices, that you can rely on and go back to. A system gives your writing a rhythm, and it gives you a way to get back on the wagon if you fall off.
In my Academic Women’s Writing Roadmap course we teach participants to develop and establish a writing system that works, instead of waiting around for inspiration to strike.
Myth #2: You Need to Work Nights and Weekends
Becoming a mom blew this idea out of the water too. Getting up before the kids to get writing done sounds good, but when your kid gets up at 4am it doesn’t really pan out. And you shouldn’t have to do this to get your work done anyway! The idea of the ‘dedicated scholar’ burning the midnight oil is a decidedly male idea (who’s feeding this guy? Where are his kids?). We need to let go of the myth that we need to work at all hours to get things done.
Reality: You Need a Concrete Plan
You need to plan well to corral your activities, including writing, into a reasonable work schedule. Stacking your schedule is a great way to do this. Stacking means you put like activities together on the same day, stacked on top of each other to prevent bleeding over. I made sure to put lesson planning time on the same day as office hours and meeting with grad students, all those teaching kinds of activities stack on top of each other.
Myth #3: You Need Big Block of Time for Writing
If you’ve ever been granted a sabbatical, or had some other event that loosened up your schedule, then you already know: having big blocks of time does not necessarily mean you get more writing done. Having the time doesn’t automatically mean you know what to do with it. And you don’t need it to be able to get the writing done.
Reality: You Need to Find and Use Your Tiger Time
“Tiger time” is a term coined by entrepreneur Amy Porterfield. It refers to those times when you are most focused, energetic and creative. These times will vary based on your personality, and your current life circumstances. To learn more about tiger time and how to find yours, check out Episode 2 of the podcast. You’ll get much more quality writing done during your tiger time then during (potentially non-existent) big blocks outside your tiger time.
Myth #4: You’re Too Busy to Write
This is not a total myth…in all likelihood, you are too busy, and should probably drop a few things off your plate. But, you are not too busy to get writing done.
Reality: Your Activities Are Not Aligned
Sometimes we feel even busier than we are because our activities are not in alignment. The answer is to find a focus for our careers and to align all of our activities behind that focus.
In the Academic Women’s Writing Roadmap course, we walk participants through a step-by-step plan for how to align everything in their careers behind a personal academic mission statement. We teach a structure for decision-making, and how to implement a timeline for finishing or quitting projects. These steps are the key to stop feeling like you are pulled in a thousand directions, and finding the time to write.
“To feel less frazzled, you need to make your activities more cohesive.”
Myth #5: You Don’t Have Enough Time to Write
I get it! I spent a lot of time spinning my wheels and feeling like I never had enough time. Academic women have full plates, and lots of competing demands on our time.
Reality: There Are More Important Factors Than Time
I’ve learned that intentional focus, pre-planning, and aligning activities are more important than the quantity of time you have. I’ve learned how to manage these things through trial-and-error, but you don’t have to! You can go from freaked out to 5-year plan with me. We teach time management, focus, planning, and mindset in The Academic Women’s Writing Roadmap program. Registration opens May 1st! Make sure you get all the info on how to register, plus never miss a podcast episode or free live video training. Here’s how to get on the mailing list to make sure you’re in the know:
- Join our I Should Be Writing Facebook group. Provide your email address when prompted in the questions and you’re on the list!
- Download my free PDF cheat sheet 10 Ways to Make Time to Write and you’re on the list!
Coming soon: The Summer Writing Challenge! Starting April 27th, we’ll take 5 days to get ready to make this summer (yes, even this one!) a great writing summer. Join us!
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