How to Write in Any Environment: 5 Writing Tips

How to Write in Any EnvironmentWe all have our ideal writing environments. Maybe it’s a space in the house or in a busy cafe. But what happens when we can’t get to an ideal environment and we need (or want) to write? Often times, one of two things happens. Either we can use our poor environment as an excuse not to write, or we can adapt.

I learned to adapt accidentally and out of necessity fairly early in my writing life. I’d always been able to write in a quiet room, but when I decided I wanted to have an independent study in high school to write my first book, I found myself writing in the back of a busy classroom, which was obviously the opposite of what I was used to. What I learned in that experience helped me to figure out not only how I work best, but also how to adapt to any environment.

Here are five steps to help you write in any environment:

1) Figure out your “ideal” writing environment

Don’t be afraid to try a few different types. Just because one environment is working fine doesn’t mean another won’t work better. Try writing in a cafe, a library, a quiet room at home, an office, and outside in nature. Try writing when you have plenty of time, and try writing when you only have five or ten minutes. Figure out what environment and circumstances make you the most productive. I learned that one place I work best is in a busier environment with a limited time frame, but I only found that out after I got my independent study and had no choice but to work in those conditions. I was working fine in a quiet room, so if it weren’t for that independent study, I never would have tried anything different.

2) Identify the specifics of your environment that help you be productive (and what distracts you)

Now that you have your ideal environment, break down the specifics of exactly what makes you productive. For example, I’ve found that a busier cafe environment is good for me in almost any situation. The ambient noises help keep me focused. However, if I’m in a quieter environment and I can pick up on one or two conversations, then I’m easily distracted. I also know I’m better with a limited time frame; if I give myself all day, I’ll take all day and probably won’t meet my goals. But if I only have a couple hours, I’ll be more focused and probably meet my goals even more quickly than the time I’ve given myself. Your ideal environment will most likely be different. Be as practical and analytical as possible in breaking down what works for you.

3) Figure out ways to mimic the specifics in less-than-ideal environments

Once you have a concrete understanding of what works for you and what distracts you, come up with ways to mimic your ideal situations and minimize distractions in your less-than-ideal environments. For example, since I know I can work well with ambient noise or silence, I need to be prepared to write in quiet-but-not-silent environments. I write on my computer, so I downloaded an ambient noise track and keep headphones in my bag at all times. This way, if I find myself in a quieter set up, I can plug in my headphones and simulate a busy environment so I can still write. If you’re someone who needs quiet to work, consider carrying earplugs around. 🙂

Is this the same as writing in your ideal environment? Rarely. But it makes it so you can write, even if you’re not quite as locked in as you usually are.

I can’t remember where I downloaded my ambient noise track from, but if you’re able to connect to the internet, here’s a fun site with TONS of ambient tracks to chose from.

4) Test and fine-tune

You’re probably going to have to go through some trial and error to figure out how to best mimic your ideal environment. Do some research. The more specific you can be with what you’re trying to mimic, the more options you’ll have to help yourself.

5) Consider your mood and story status as you troubleshoot.

If it seems like nothing is working, consider your mood and your story’s status. If your head’s not in the game or if you’ve been struggling with your story in your ideal environment, it might not be the technique you’re testing that’s the problem. So, don’t write something off completely unless you know for sure it’s the technique that’s the problem.

I hope this helps you write in any environment!

Now it’s your turn: What’s your ideal writing environment? What tips do you have to be productive in a less-than-ideal writing environment? Tell me about it in the comments!

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How to Build a Successful Writing Life

Building a successful writing life one step at a timeWhen I explain my writing process and writing life to others, it sounds like a finely honed process. So much so that I’ve had seasoned writers tell me how impressed they are.

I don’t say this to brag. My process and writing life don’t feel all that impressive to me, but they really are as finely honed as they sound. Does that mean it works for me 100% of the time? Of course not. But I do feel productive and successful more often than not. (If you want to read more about my process, check out my Writing Process series! You can find the first post here!)

I firmly believe the main reason my approach is so effective is that I took the time to figure out the best process for me. But this didn’t happen overnight. So today, I’m going to share how I created my process and writing life in the hopes that these steps will help you build a life that works best for you.

1) Identify what’s slowing you down or giving you a problem

Make a list and be honest with yourself. Is time management a problem? Or is it that you don’t have enough time in your day? Is it that you feel “stuck” a lot? Do you find yourself losing steam with your plot? Consider both practical writing problems (getting stuck) and life/environment problems (not having the time and space).

If a list isn’t your thing, you can just go to the next step. I  stumbled into this method accidentally, so I didn’t actually have a list when I started. I just had a good understanding of what standing my way.

2) Pick the biggest problem and work that ONE problem only

This is really the key for me. I built my process by solving one problem at a time. It’s taken YEARS to get it to the place where people are apparently impressed by how I work, but it never felt overwhelming to me. By focusing on a single issue, I was able to continually improve and work better without getting bogged down in trying to fix everything at once.

So, pick your biggest issue (or, if you’re not working from a list, take one issue you want to solve). If your biggest problem is that you don’t have enough time, sit down, take a hard look at your schedule and see where you can find some more. Then show up. Even if you don’t get much done because you have other problems to solve, give yourself credit for solving (or improving) that ONE problem you’re working.

3) Fine-tune your approach on that ONE problem until you find something that works for you

Work that ONE problem until you find a solution. Maybe you need to get up a little earlier and write before anyone needs anything from you. Maybe you need to make use of the ten or fifteen minute windows throughout your day. Do some online research and see how other people have solved a similar problem, and try a bunch of things until you feel you’ve overcome that obstacle. Progress may be slow as you work through this. It always seems to be with trial and error. Take yourself off the clock and focus on finding some progress. And know that taking the time to figure out how you work best now will set you up for a lifetime of progress. Trust me, it’s worth it!

4) Repeat with the next element on your list

Once you’ve successfully worked out your obstacle, go back to your list and pick something else! Work it through the process!

5) Don’t be afraid to modify as you and your work evolve

Every project has different needs. Plus, as you grow, you’ll learn new tricks you can try out. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m a big outliner. My outlines are multicolored and span several sheets of paper, but it took me several years (and books) to work up to that point. And it’s still evolving. I’ve found my process and writing life to be living things that I continuously adapt.

6) Don’t limit this approach to your writing

I have found this process to be addictive and I apply it often in my everyday life. For example, I once found I was spending too much time checking and answering email, so I sat down and figured out a way to be just as effective in less time. You can use this process for nearly every aspect of your life that you’d like to improve.

Final note:

After writing this out felt, I feel like this make look a little daunting but I really hope it doesn’t feel overwhelming to read. I swear I didn’t find it to be too much when I was going through the bulk of the work early on. It felt like I was learning more about myself, and becoming more complete with each new trick I learned. I hope this approach helps you as much as it’s helped me. And if you need help solving a particular problem, leave a comment below! If I have tips to share, I’ll try to do a post on what you’re struggling with.

I hope this helps you build a successful writing life!

Now it’s your turn: How do you fine-tune your writing life? Tell me about it in the comments!

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How to Have a Happy Writing Life

How to Be a Happy WriterBooks are often labors of love. We work on them never knowing if they’ll see the light of day. Ultimately, it’s up to us to make those books happen. We have to make time for them and we have to take on the responsibility of completing them. And in the end, no matter how hard we work and how much time we put in, there’s no way to know if what you’ve written is good enough to be shared, published, or otherwise appreciated by readers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a happy writing life.

Writing a book can be a lot of pressure, and it can suck you dry just as much as it can invigorate you.

But here’s the thing to remember: this writing life is YOURS. You decide how much pressure you put on yourself and you can decide to shift yourself and your perspective in such a way that you’re happy with the writing life you’re living, no matter where you are in your writing journey. You can decide to build a happy writing life no matter where you are on the journey.

Here are ten decisions you can make to make a happy writing life for yourself:

1) You can decide your writing matters

The rest of the world may tell you your writing doesn’t matter unless it’s published or unless you win some contest. You can decide you don’t need someone else’s validation. You can decide your work matters simply because you’ve written it.

2) You can decide what success is

Again, it’s easy to think of “success” as being published or winning awards. And sure, that’s one version of success. But the problem with those definitions is that they are out of your hands. You are, effectively, letting other people decide when you’ve succeeded. That’s setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, you can decide to define success as not giving up, which is really the only thing you can control. You can decide that every day you show up, and every day you work on what’s within your control, you’re succeeding. Maybe it’s not the dream (yet) but it can sustain you.

3) You can set your timeline (and maybe consider not setting a timeline)

You are the one who sets your writing life timeline. You decide at what age or how far off you’d like to be published by. Which means you don’t actually have to set a timeline! Similar to the point above, if you build a timeline you’re putting an awful lot of weight on other people’s actions. Those are actions you can’t control. Setting a timeline around them can be demoralizing if things don’t go the way you plan. Instead, make a manageable timeline for the work you’re going to do on your own stories, not the things you want to happen as a result. Focus on that instead. And if things get off track, don’t sweat it! The benefit of creating your own timeline is that you can adjust it as you need to. It’s only a source of stress and pressure if you decide it is.

4) You can decide that your progress matters

It’s easy to get caught up in not being “finished” and it’s easy to get caught up in the work you have in front of you. But you can decide the work you’ve done so far is worth celebrating, and you can decide the progress you’ve made matters more than the work you still have to do. The Mayo Clinic actually has an article on the importance so focusing on progress over perfection.

5) You can decide the journey is more important

In real life, I’m really not one for “traveling.” I hate the journey and I’m all about the destination. But when it comes to writing I’m the opposite. You can decide the journey and the experience you have writing your book matters more than the end result. You can decide that the act of creating means more than the act of sharing, and decide that sharing (and publishing) is a lovely perk.

6) You can decide the intangible benefits of writing matter more than the tangible ones

I don’t know about you, but I write because of how I feel when I do it. I was prepared to write for the rest of my life whether I ever got published or not. I realized fairly early on that writing made me a happier and more fulfilled person, whether anyone else liked what I was writing or not. Because how I feel and what writing does for me is so much more important than a tangible benefit I can point to.

7) You can decide to commit to your writing

You can decide to make writing a priority at any point. No one else will do it for you. You can decide to get up a half hour earlier or spend your lunch break on your computer instead of with your co-workers. You can make as much or as little time for writing as you want. For more on this, check out this post!

8) You can decide to make time for non-writing activities (guilt free!)

You don’t have to chain yourself to your desk to call yourself a writer. You can (and should) spend time with family, friends, or even your tv screen without feeling like you should be writing. Granted, you can’t blow off writing for this kind of stuff all the time, but balance is important. You need it to have experiences and emotions to write about.

9) You can decide to write for you

You can decide that telling yourself a story your love is more important than telling a story every reader may love. And you can decide to trust that if you love what you’re writing, readers like you will love it too.

10) You can decide your best is enough

You can decide that the work you’ve done is good enough, regardless of what anyone else says. And you can decide that the work you’re doing now is good enough to help you grow, whether it gets you where you want to be right now or not. For more on this, check out the post linked above!

I hope this helps you have a happy writing life!

Now it’s your turn: What helps you make a happy writing life? Tell me about it in the comments!

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Why Writing Doesn’t Have to be “Hard”

Writing doesn't have to be hard“Writing is hard.” At least, that’s what a lot of writers like to say. I used to say this too. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying writing is easy or that it’s never hard, but I do think if writing is “hard” it’s your writerly instincts trying to tell you something, and listening to those instincts can help minimize how hard it is to write.

Because I am a writer, I care about the specificity of language, and what I’ve come to realize is that there’s a difference between writing being “challenging” and writing being “hard.” Challenging is often a good thing. It means I’m pushing myself and my writing. It means I’m growing. “Hard” often means that I’m not doing something right.

Ultimately, you’ll have to decide for yourself what the difference is for you (or if that this even applies to you,) but for me, it’s an important distinction–one that’s been vital in shaping my writing life and process.

So, here’s how I tell the difference between challenging and hard (and how I avoid hard at all costs):

How to tell if writing is challenging

To me, the challenge comes when I know what I want to say, I just haven’t figured out the best way to say it. Maybe I’m trying a different approach to a topic, or maybe I’m writing about a difficult emotion that I can’t seem to get just right. Whatever the reason, I don’t feel completely lost, I’m just struggling.

Why is challenging good?

Challenges to me are typically more of an expression problem than anything else. The best way I know how to get past it is by chipping away little by little. Maybe I can’t fully express what I’m trying to say, but I can try to get closer. And I keep trying to get closer until I eventually figure out how to express my idea as fully as possible. This may take time, and it most definitely isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. It pushes me to dig deep, and to uncover new ideas and implement new techniques. Ultimately, it will make me a better writer, and often a better person, which (if you’re like me) is half the point of writing in the first place.

How to tell if writing is hard

If writing is hard it’s more of a lost-in-the-woods feeling for me. It’s feeling like I can’t move forward. Not that I don’t want to move forward–that I can’t move forward. Maybe the scene I need to write isn’t all that clear in my head. Or maybe it is, but now that I’ve written the scene before it, the current scene feels terribly off. Whatever the problem is, pushing on feels like moving through quicksand and I don’t feel like forcing myself to chip away at the problem is making the story any better.

What can hard mean?

If writing is hard it’s almost always a mental or writing process problem. It means there’s something I’m not doing right on a more fundamental level. Maybe I’m forcing a scene that doesn’t belong. Or maybe I’m I can’t make a scene work because there’s a key ingredient (character, emotion, plot element) that I’m missing. Ultimately, for me, when writing is “hard” it’s my writerly instincts telling me I’m making bad story choices or going in the wrong direction and I need to take a timeout and reassess.

Now sure, sometimes my head’s just not in the game. When I’m too tired or mentally drained everything about writing is hard. That to me is a sign that I need to take a day off and try again when my mind is sharp (and if I still having a problem, I know it’s the book, not me).

How to change your approach when writing is hard

If writing is challenging, the only thing you can do is to keep chipping away at it and celebrating every small victory. But for me, this really never works when writing is hard. It’s a little like trying to drive down a dead end road. Wanting to move forward won’t change the fact that the road I need to drive on is literally not there. I need to find a new direction.

To fix this, I take a time out and brainstorm. I free write, I take a walk, and I brainstorm the number of different possibilities the book or the scene could take–nothing is off limits or too outlandish. Or I work on something else to take my mind off things. Or sometimes I just take some time off from writing to let my brain rest. I also read blog posts and books about other writer’s approaches to see if there’s something new I can try to get to the bottom of my problem. The one thing I don’t do is to keep writing when it’s genuinely hard.

I’ve learned if I don’t take the time to understand the problem, I’m never going to get to the bottom of my issue. Approaching my writing struggles this way has made me significantly more productive and my writing life has become noticeably happier. I hope you have the same success if you give this a shot!

I hope this helps you avoid “hard” writing as much as possible!

Now it’s your turn: Have you noticed a difference between “challenging” and “hard” in your own writing? How do you navigate your story when writing is hard? Tell me about it in the comments!

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How to Regroup When Writing Plans Get Derailed

How to Regroup when Your writing Plans Get derailedIf you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m a big believer in writing plans and writing goals. Writing plans and goals are important. It’s how we can stay motivated and move our projects forward. But sometimes, things don’t always go as planned. If one day gets off track, it might be easy to catch up, but if its a series of days, it can be a lot harder. And I’ve found that the harder it is to catch up, the more intimidating the entire task is, and it gets really easy to want to give up and walk away from it all.

This post is designed to cut off that overwhelming feeling that comes with falling behind on your writing plans and help you get back on track!

1) Take a timeout

Before you do anything, just take a second to breathe. Take a moment to understand what went wrong. If it was simply, “life happened” then don’t put any more thought into it. If, perhaps, you got too ambitious and tried to do too much too fast, make note of that so you don’t make the same mistake again. Also during this timeout, let go of any old plans and expectations. We’re resetting and starting fresh!

2) Assess where you are

Julia Cameron likes to say, “start where you are.” It’s good advice, especially in a situation like this. But first, you have to figure out where exactly you are. Take a moment to take inventory of where you and your project are at. How much of your old plan where you able to accomplish? Where exactly did you stop? This will become your new starting point.

3) Assess what you have left to do

Make a list of the tasks you still have to tackle. With each task, also list actionable steps you need to complete in order to accomplish the task. For example, one task might be “Fix main plot.” Some actionable steps you can do might be, “Identify the current problem, brainstorm a solution, outline scenes to work in the solution, add scenes into book.”

While it’s always helpful to break your problems down into action steps like this, I think it’s even more important after your previous plan falls through. It forces you to really slow down and make sure you’re allowing enough time for each step, which heightens the chance that you won’t be frustrated and disappointed by a plan twice in a row.

4) Prioritize

This step is two-fold. First, prioritize your tasks. The biggest and most important should go first. If you prioritize smaller tasks just because they’re easier and will give you some sense of accomplishment, you’re setting yourself up to waste time. Bigger tasks impact more of your project, which means sometimes the bigger task with either fix a smaller task or alter the course of a smaller task. If you tend to a smaller task first, there’s a chance your bigger task will force you to rewrite and change that smaller task twice.

Second, make a commitment to prioritize your new and improved plan. Sure, sometimes interferences are unavoidable, but sometimes they are. If someone or something is trying to take you away from your writing goals, give yourself a second to assess before you walk away from your story. Ask yourself: “Am I really the only person who can solve this problem? Is the problem truly urgent?” If the answer to these questions is “no” then don’t give up your writing time. Let someone else handle it or take it on after you finished your writing.

5) Make a new plan

Be realistic! If your first plan fell through because you over planned, scale back your daily goals. You’re better off moving a little slower, taking a little longer and actually finishing, than continually getting overwhelmed and falling behind. And if you got derailed because of some new recurring time commitment or lifestyle change, take that into consideration. One trick that helps me stay realistic is to first give an honest assessment of how much time I think I may need for a task, then, if at all possible, I give myself time and a half to complete it. So, if I think I’ll need two days to fix a plot, I plan to give myself three. This gives me a cushion and keeps me from falling behind. At best, it only takes me two days and I can get ahead of schedule.

6) Focus on one task at a time

When you get back to work, stay focused on the task at hand. Try to put aside all the work you still have to do, and all of the people or things that need your attention. When you are working on your book, the only thing that matters is your book. I’ve found that fifteen minutes of total focus is more productive than thirty when my mind is half on something else. This is also something to keep in mind while you’re making your new plan. If the only solid half hour you have to write means you’ll have to multitask, try to find ten or fifteen minutes when you don’t instead. Of course, every writer is different and this may not work for you, but I definitely think it’s worth trying out!

I hope this helps you regroup when your writing plans get derailed!

Now it’s your turn: What do you do when your writing plans get derailed? What tips have you borrowed from others? Tell me about it in the comments!

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When Writing Your Novel Feels Overwhelming: 7 Tips

When writing your novel feels overwhelmingWriting a novel can unquestionably be overwhelming at times. It’s a massive undertaking, and there’s a ton of work that goes into writing a book, with no guarantees of a positive outcome. Some things that may cause your project to feel overwhelming include feeling lost in your story, getting behind on your goals, realizing you have so much work ahead of you, realizing your book needs more work than your thought, being told your work isn’t good enough, and so much more.

Here are seven tips to help you when writing feels overwhelming:

1) Take a break

Binge watch your favorite show, read, spend time with family/friends, spend time outside, or do anything that relaxes you and helps you reset. It might be tempting to guilt yourself while you take this break or chastise yourself for “wasting writing time.” But you’re not wasting writing time, you’re recharging. It will only be a true “break” if let yourself off the hook and give yourself permission to enjoy this activity and clear your mind. Coming back to your project with a clean slate may be just what you need to chase to overwhelm away. It’ll give you the opportunity to clear out everything that’s bringing you down, then when you come back to your project, you can reassess and prioritize.

2) Start where you are

This is a key philosophy in Julia Cameron’s book, The Right to Write. Don’t think about your entire project. Don’t even think about all the work you have ahead of you. Start where you are and take one step forward. Then take another. You can write an entire book this way. Overwhelm is more likely to set in when you look at the picture. So don’t look at the big picture until you’ve finished.

3) Make a new plan

If part of your overwhelm came from falling behind on your goals and plans, take a time out and make a new plan. I’m a big believer in making plans, setting goals, and doing your best to stick to them, but sometimes you have to make adjustments. You’re better off creating a new plan/goal that you can reasonably reach than struggling to catch up and getting discouraged. It may feel like you’re regressing or admitting defeat, but you’re not. You’re creating consistency, and that’s what will help you finish your book. You’re better off planning to write 500 words a day every day and hitting that mark than planning on 1,000 and falling behind. For more, check out why you should set reasonable writing goals and how to set reasonable writing goals.

4) Spend less time on social media

One problem with social media is how cultivated it is. People often share the good stuff over the problems they might be having. It can be easy to look at the social media feeds of your friends and acquaintances and think things are great for them. And if you’re struggling with your book, something you’re putting your heart and soul into, seeing everyone succeeding online might add to the overwhelm.

I’ve also found that the more I take in from others, the harder it is to focus on what I want to say and write. Or, as a friend once put it, too much input makes it hard to produce output. Take some time off social media and give yourself the space to think and create. This has helped me so much that I’ve cut back on social media across the board. It’s helped me be more centered, focused, and keeps overwhelm at bay.

5) Notice what’s discouraging you and step away

Sometimes, overwhelming feelings can be triggared by discouraging or negative forces in your life. Whether it’s someone telling you that “you can’t do this” or it’s yourself, looking up “how to get published” and panicking, negativity can make your project feel bigger or harder than it is. This can, in turn, make you overwhelmed. If you need to stop yourself from going to a certain site, most web browsers have a site blocker extension you can add on to help you stay away. If it’s a person, do your best not to talk about writing with this person. And if that person asks you questions, you can say something like, “I don’t like to talk about my projects until they’re finished.” Do whatever you have to in order to protect your writing and creativity.

6) Work on a different project for a bit

This is one of my favorite tricks! Not only does it cure writing overwhelm, but also writer’s block and other plot problems. If you’re anything like me, you write because you love it. Having a low-pressure side project always helps bring me back to why I write and takes my mind off whatever problems I’m having with my main project, including overwhelm. Often when I go back to the project causing me problems, it feels so much more manageable. For more on this, check out this post.

7) Talk to other writers

Every writer I know has felt overwhelmed by their projects at one point or another. Sharing stories and knowing you’re not alone in this can be a powerful way to push through. Not only that, your writer friend may have a tip or trick to help you navigate to a situation. I’m not on facebook, but I hear they have some great writer support groups. If you’re looking for writer friends in real life, consider taking a writing class at a library, community center, or local college. For more on the importance of writerly friendships, check out this post by my writer friend, Julie Eshbaugh.

I hope this helps you when writing feels overwhelming!

Now it’s your turn: What do you do when writing feels overwhelming? Do you have any tips and tricks to share? Tell me about it in the comments!

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5 Reasons Why Your Best Writing is Good Enough

Why Your Best Writing is Good EnoughThis post is inspired by two of my favorite people on the internet: Erin Motz and Courtney Carver. One of the reasons I like them both so much is because they both preach a similar belief that your best is good enough. This philosophy can absolutely apply to writing. Your best writing is good enough!

There are two elements to this philosophy. First, it’s okay to work really hard without running yourself into the ground. It’s okay to give just 100% and not 110%. Second, it’s okay to let yourself off the hook when you work really hard, yet things don’t go how you wanted to. There are a lot of moving parts in the world. There are things that are outside your control. If you can say that you did your best with what was within your control, don’t tell yourself that you should have worked harder. It’s okay to accept where you’re at and know you will learn and grow from there. 

Writers worry all the time that their best work isn’t good enough. They worry it’s not good enough to be published or to even be read. They worry it’s just flat out not good. And I’ll be honest–maybe it’s not good enough for those things–at least not yet. But your best should be good enough for you. Accepting where I’m at has helped me to both grow and to endure the judgment of others.

With that in mind, here are four reasons why accepting this idea will help your writing life:

1) Every time you write you’ll get better

That’s just how writing works. There’s no sense in being angry or frustrated because your work isn’t as good as you want it to be. If it’s your best work, then it’s good enough and you’ll learn from it. Then the next time you write, you’ll get better. It’s a natural progression. As much as it sucks, you can’t skip steps. You become a better writer by writing. If you consistently get frustrated that you’re not a better writer, there is a better chance that you’ll get discouraged and quit. If you can honestly say you’ve given a project the best you had on any given day (and what you have in you may vary) then you should celebrate that! You will only get better with time.

2) You will live a more balanced life

Consistently trying to give more than your best to your writing is a sure fire way to burn out. It’s also a sure fire way to live a lopsided life. If you give more than your best, then it means you’re giving all of the energy you have (plus maybe some you don’t) to your writing. It’s unhealthy, unsustainable, and you miss out on a lot. Family is important. Friends are important. Trying to be better than your best is draining and leaves nothing left for any other area of your life. And I’ve found that when I let my best be enough and have more energy for other things, it actually makes me a better writer. It keeps me fresh, and it allows me to walk away from my work before it becomes all-consuming. This makes it easier for me to keep my work in perspective and solve problems.

3) It takes the pressure off and frees your mind

There’s a pressure that comes with always having to be better. It’s a pressure that can seep into your productivity and make it hard to move forward. You question every idea you have. It can become debilitating and make finishing a chapter nearly impossible. When you let yourself accept that your best is good enough, it takes away some of that pressure. You no longer have to push yourself beyond your limits. You give yourself permission to do your best and be okay with whatever comes out. It takes away the expectations. And when you do that, you unlock something in your creative brain that can help bring your story to life in a way you never considered–at least, that’s been my experience.

4) It makes it easier to take criticism in stride

Every writer gets some form of criticism. Accepting that your best is good enough is one way to keep criticism from tearing you down. I have found that when I can acknowledge that I did the very best I possibly could on a book, it makes rejection easier. Because I am happy with what I did and I know it was not possible for me to do any better. Maybe the rejectors and critics have a point. Maybe they don’t. Either way, I know I’ve given a book everything I’ve got. I can’t ask any more of myself. And I know that the first point of this post will come into play and next time I will do better. For more on managing criticism, check out this post.

5) It’s all you can do

At the end of the day, your best is what you have. No matter how hard you try, it is impossible to be better than your best. It’s one thing to challenge yourself. That’s how you grow. It’s another thing to expect more of yourself than you are physically and/or mentally capable of. That’s how you run yourself into the ground. Excepting your best isn’t a cop out and it’s not slacking off. It’s taking care of yourself and putting yourself in the best situation to succeed. It’s helping you to build a healthy and sustainable writing life. Give yourself that gift. Your writing will thank you.

I hope that helps you see why your best writing is good enough!

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever put too much pressure on yourself to be better than your best? What’s helped you combat that impulse? Tell me about it in the comments!

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