Writing can only get done by writing

Writing can only get done by writing
Wendy Thomas - Mon Jan 18, 2010 @ 02:48AM
Comments: 13

I belong to a goals group.

It is a group of three women freelance writers who have been meeting together on Monday mornings at a local coffee house for the last two years. Writing gets done by writing

This group started after we had all participated in a large writing project entailing incredible output and a drop dead schedule. We came out the other side of our finished project a little bruised but empowered in our collective “can do-it-ness.”

Deciding to keep the momentum going, we formed a weekly group where, much like a verbal to-do list, we presented our large goals as well as our weekly goals. We also reported on our previous goals indicating success or non-completion. We enforced a gentle honesty on each other.

We also realized, though, that life happens, babies are born, accidents occur, jobs are lost, and over the years we have refined our process to accommodate for what is predictably an unpredictable world. Some weeks, some of us send our goals by email. Some weeks, especially during school holidays, we just can’t meet.

One thing that has not changed, however, is our support of each other which has included references and pointers to contacts or information. Even though we are all writers, we understand that by helping each other we are helping the greater good. At this point in our lives, we’ve realized that it’s not just about us anymore. When one of us succeeds it propels the rest of us to try something new, to pitch an article with a different slant, to remember a contact we had years ago who might be able to contribute a quote or two. To gather the courage to try a project like that ourselves.

There is an enormously popular book out there called “The Secret”, it’s all about putting your intentions out to the world. If I want a shiny new red sports car then you post a picture of it over your desk and you visualize yourself (and I mean really, really SEE) yourself driving that car.

I’ve had problems with that philosophy all along. I can have all the focus I want in the world on a goal, I can state it to myself and my world until I’m blue in the face BUT unless there is a “Get-going” component involved, very little is going to be accomplished.

By stating my goals out loud to a group, by listening to and welcoming feedback on information that could assist me, and by sitting my butt down in the chair and putting these fingers on that keyboard, and finally, by having the accountability of having to report my progress status the following week, you can bet I’ll be making more progress on my writing than I would if I had posted a magazine cover on my wall and simply dreamed about being published in it someday.

Comments: 13


1. Sarah Mitchell  |  my website   |   Mon Jan 18, 2010 @ 03:06AM

Hi Wendy,

It's amazing how effective the bum-on-seat technique is for writing. I heard Tim Winton say the key to his success is showing up to his desk every morning. He said he didn't always know when the magic was going to meet him there but he didn't want to be absent on the days it did. That's stuck with me.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with your writing group. I was involved in a similar situation for 2 years and it was a remarkably productive time in my life.

2. Jamie Lee   |   Mon Jan 18, 2010 @ 04:01AM

Wendy - Thanks for sharing this personal and pertinent story. I have also found (and continue to discover!) that balancing butt-in-chair time with a healthy dose of getting-out-there is a powerful combination for getting things done. Although I believe in the potency of intentions, it takes more than intentions to make things happen - it takes action, pure and simple.

Whether I'm a little wiser now, or just starting to feel like I'm running out of time, I definitely am becoming increasingly adept at throwing myself into things before I have time to talk myself out of them. I am learning to share my ideas and aspirations with trusted allies - knowing that their awareness of my goals will not only help hold me to the pursuit of those goals, but also increases the reach of my intentions.

No woman is an island. There's a revitalizing energy that comes from working together towards individual but common goals - sharing your journey and your burden. That's one energy source I hope to always draw from and feed. :)

3. Christopher Ryan  |  my website   |   Mon Jan 18, 2010 @ 04:01AM

Wendy, as a four time author I am always amused when a friend or colleague tells me that they are also going to write a book. My tough-love response is often: "No you are not." Then I go on to say that the thing that separates real writers from would-be writers is the actual writing, not the talking. I tell them to go write the first three pages and then I will believe (and they themselves will believe) that they are on the way to becoming an author. As the proverb says: "From small beginnings come great things." But you have to begin.

4. sue  |  my website   |   Mon Jan 18, 2010 @ 12:18PM

accountability partner -- 1-2 hours/month, by phone. Our agenda? BRAGS first. Big big accomplishments. then "kick butt" on dates we committed to last meeting. and brainstorming on something we're stuck on. HUGELY helpful.

5. Casie  |  my website   |   Wed Jan 20, 2010 @ 03:10AM

I am a HUGE advocate of telling other people what you are doing both personally and professionally. When other people are aware of it, there is like you said accountability...and sometimes without that accountability, I admittedly tend to let things fall to the wayside.

Our team has a stand-up every morning where each person states what they are doing for the day. I may not get everything done on that list, but at least I know what I am doing that day and my team knows. It is especially great for blog posts because if you tell me you are writing one, I'm gonna hold you too it. The same goes for myself.

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