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Writing Strategies

#16- Survive or Thrive? 10 Questions To Ask Yourself When You Realize You’re in A Rough Spot in Your Writing – (Un)Common Writing Strategies

By- Tom Kubrak


Sometimes, you have to be honest where you’re at in your life. Everyone, clearly, doesn’t live the same life. So wherever you are at in your writing career, you can hit a rough spot.

Most of the time though, this happens with early-stage-writers; like me. 

This question of Survive or Thrive came to me when I moved residences, yet again. For the last few years I’ve had to, but I’ve refused to change my mindset on what I can do. Before I had asked this question, regardless of what ‘hell of a situation’ I was in I was going full throttle and always had the mindset of getting that first contract for my writing.

What I failed to realize was that… I wasn’t ready.

With everything going on in my life. Including, we’ll call it, financial-mayhem, I was in no position to ask for or receive a phone-call telling me “Hey Tom I want to pay you x dollars to write my book.”

Hell no.

In writing it’s sometimes hard to understand where you’re at and where you want to be. Making false notions on where you’re at is easy to do. Currently I’m at a cross-roads…

SURVIVING

What does that mean in writing?

Well like a soldier in a war waiting for the battle to come, it’s simply about getting prepared. When you enlist in the military, most soldiers, if you shipped them off from the day they enlisted, would fail mightily, if they were sent overseas. Some; yes, they would do okay, but most, need the required training. 

But let’s say you have the training and you’re sent off to battle(you’re writing), what if in that battle you start to run low on supplies, and you run out of some essential items like food and water?

Now you’re top priority is to avoid getting into a “firefight”, wait out the “storm” and survive. Plainly and simply, just survive, conserve your resources, build the stamina you need, wait, be patient, and then attack when you’re resupplied and full of the energy you need in order to charge at the enemy(your writing project).

Right now, your big writing project has not fallen on your lap yet. So, it’s your job to be ready for it when it does. 

How do you do that though when there’s no “battle” yet? Well, in our terms, as writers, you just write, and you write what you can. You don’t overdue it and shoot for the stars right away. Don’t try to write for hours and hours on end in the beginning. That is a recipe for a long term disaster. 

I’ve recently found myself in a situation where I had to switch my mindset from thriving to surviving. I had multiple writing gigs(the battles) and I was thriving. I was in a great routine too. Then, I had virtually none just like that(surviving). Amongst many things, my mind was worn down and I was tired from all of the S*** being thrown at me. I had lost my touch too in dealing with these situations like they were nothing in order to keep writing.

I was a little lost and then, it continued to get worse, I missed, for the first time in a long time, two consecutive days in my writing. 

This has happened to me before but now, as I progress, daily into my writing and continue to get more responsibilities, it has me worried. Especially, since I’m at risk now of losing everything I’ve worked to build up.

THRIVING

Some people may be at a different point where everything is aligning and they are almost done with that book and making money off of some freelance writing projects. If you’re like me right now, bite your tongue, and realize that you’re not at the point mentally to be able to put in those 3 to 4 hour writing days. 

Which I call: Thriving in your writing. 

Yes, those days are some of the best as a writer, and when you get one  you feel untouchable, but right now it’s not feasible. It doesn’t make sense. As much as we wish Marvel movies were real, their just not and that’s where we as writers can get fairly easy in my opinion: to a point of feeling like nothing can stop our writing.

Whatever the reasons; whether it’s, you just moved, you got in a fight, financial problems, marital issues, your kid is sick, YOU’RE sick, or you are just lacking energy. You can’t do it right now. Sit down for a few minutes, an hour or two, a day or maybe even a week to think about what you need to do.

No matter how many motivational videos you watch, you have to start working your way back up slowly. And you have to ask yourself some questions first:

THE QUESTIONS

  1.  How is my writing setup? Is there a different layout I should try to maximize my productivity?
  1. Is my workspace clean? When was the last time I cleaned it?
  1.  Who am I talking to, to help me out with my writing? Am I surrounding myself with other writers or am I just talking to family and friends who feel obligated to tell me “You’re doing a great job (insert name), don’t worry about it.”
  1.  What’s my reading plan? Is my reading lacking? Side note: In my opinion, we as writers, if we want to write more we have to read more.
  1.  Is there an unresolved problem outside of my writing that is taking my mind away from my writing daily?
  1.  Did I forget to pay the water bill?(or any other bill you may have) Side note: Getting immersed into our writing is great, but lets not forget about life’s responsibilities
  1.  How is my morning and evening routine? Side Note: Check out this video I watched recently about a better morning routine- by Robin Sharma- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xC_DbgpPAc
  1.  How is my work life balance? Am I working at completely different times every day? How can I do better?
  1.  Am I drinking too much? (coffee, tea, alcohol etc.) Is this slowing me down or lifting me up? Do I need to drink more water?
  1. What am I doing on my non-writing hours? Should I be doing something different? Should I be watching or reading different things?

Are you at a point in your writing career where you simply need to “Survive?”

If that’s you then I encourage you to just get a few minutes of writing in each day for a week or two. Whether that’s 10-20 or 30 minutes, just start slowly working your way up to where you are “thriving” and getting in those two to three hour writing days. On top of that you’re beginning to get paid or get paid again.

Right now though, it’s best if we just survive. That’s where I’m at right now. The battle has not yet arrived and…we’re not ready when it does. 

So get ready… and survive first so you can meet the challenge when it comes.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ― Abraham Lincoln

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By- Tom Kubrak

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