In this episode, learn the 5 myths holding you back from writing and the mindset shifts to transform your thoughts.
Set yourself up for success by checking out the Busy Author Toolbox, my newly refurbished course on creating a sustainable and consistent writing habit.
In other words, get the course and finish your book.
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Hey Toucan! Welcome to episode 10 of the podcast. This is officially the last episode of season one and of 2022 before I’m back on in January.
It has been so much fun so far, and I am so pleased to have you in my life tuning in each week to listen to me jibber Jabber on the airwaves.
Thank you so much for listening to the podcast.
Here’s what we covered in season one.
- You learned about Toucan20, the main method I use for writing more in less time, which is also detailed in the Quick Start guide.
- You learned about the writing habits survey ran in March 2022 and all the nitty gritty details about writers and their habits.
- You learned about shiny new ideas syndrome and how to manage it.
- We had a few NaNoWriMo bonus episodes, which by the way, also apply to any 30-day period of writing time. So, if you want to choose a 30-day month or period of time and you want some extra inspiration while you write during that 30 days, then please consider signing up for the free 30-day challenge. I’ll link to it in the show notes, or you can go to youcantoucan.com/30days.
- You learned a plethora of tools to plan for anything to get in your way in a two-part episode, and probably snagged the plan for anything tools, quick reference guide.
- You learned how to take time off from your writing guilt-free and how to gracefully come back from a break and also opted in for the guidelines for that too.
- You learned about breaking bad habits and creating good habits.
- You learned about the negative self-talk siblings and the couple of tools to effectively bind and gag them.
- You learned seven ways to use writing to unwind during the holidays. Or any other stressful period of your life and downloaded the workbook that went along with it.
- And finally, in today’s episode, you will learn about the five myths or limiting beliefs that holds you back from writing consistently, and the mindset shifts needed to overcome them.
Let’s get into it.
The number one question I loathe as a writer is: “How’s the book coming.”
I know, it seems like such an innocuous question. And as writers, we really do love to talk about our stories, don’t we? We wax on and on about our characters and the plot situations we’ve put them in while the listener glazes over and gets a distant, “Ooh, I should not have asked that” look in their eyes.
But if the book isn’t coming, as in, I fallen out of my writing practice, that question feels like an aggressive attack. “How’s the book coming,” as if the person is just waiting for me to give up on this whole writing thing or even fail.
I feel like Brian from family guy, when Stewie, asks him how his novel is coming along.
“How are you? Uh, are you coming on that novel? Got a big, big stack of papers there. Got a nice little as little story you’re working on there.”
Questions like this along with, “Are you still writing?” Oftentimes bring on feelings of guilt or panic or disappointment because chances are, if you’re a busy author, which I’m assuming you are if you’re listening to the podcast, a lot of the time life gets in the way. Then we adopt these limiting beliefs or mindsets around our writing that give us negative associations around it and keep us from it.
They create these preconceived notions about our writing that end up holding us back.
Well friend, I am here today to tell you these are myths that you’ve created in your mind. And by the end of this episode, you will have the mindset shifts you need to transform the way you think about your writing.
So then, when someone asks you how’s the book coming, you can confidently raise your chin and say:
“Hmm. The book is coming along well, in fact, I’m almost done with the first draft,” instead of feeling held back by the beliefs or myths you have in your head.
The first myth or limiting belief is I don’t have time to write.
Or maybe you tell yourself. I’ll right when my kids are out of the house or when I retire or when hell freezes over. You get the point. You have this dream to write a book or to finish a book you might’ve started long ago, but you feel like your life is in too much turmoil, too busy to jam packed to do so.
Here’s your mindset shift, instead of saying, I don’t have time to write, tell yourself. I do have time to write and I don’t have to wait for the kids to be out of the house or to retire or XYZ reason. And you do have time. My friend, this whole podcast is about how you can find time to write. And how you can fit writing into your busy life.
Revisit episode two, the meat and potatoes episode. And you’ll understand that. Yes, you do have time to write.
Now I used this quote from Denise Brennan-Nelson in one of the bonus NaNoWriMo episodes, but it is so appropriate for everything I talk about. So here it is:
“Someday is not a day of the week.”
Start today. Start now set your timer for 20 minutes and sit down and write.
Myth number two. I only have small scraps of free time. There’s no way I can get into my story in that short amount of time.
I used to believe this too. I’ve talked about how I used to ride on my 60-minute lunch break. I’ve mentioned how I wasted that time, scrolling to the bottom of Facebook. I might have even mentioned how I used to think 20 minutes. Wasn’t enough time to do anything. Let alone write on my book.
Or maybe you’ve tried Toucan20 and you just can’t get into the right writing mind frame in that short amount of time. Or maybe you haven’t even tried because you wholeheartedly believe it isn’t enough time.
Here’s your mindset shift. If I keep showing up, it will get easier. Small scraps of time are enough.
As with every new skill you learn, it takes time and practice. The more you show up for smaller periods of writing time, the quicker you’ll get into the writing mind frame until hitting start on your timer becomes a trigger for your brain to get to work.
Try Toucan20 for seven days at a minimum track your word count each session.
In fact, the Quick Start Guide has free trackers in it, so you should check it out. youcantoucan.com/guide. Once again, I’ll link to it in the show notes.
When you try it for seven days, you will see improvement in the number of words you write. You’ll also notice a difference in how you feel when you sit down to write, you’ll start writing sooner. You’ll add more words to the page than you thought possible.
You’ll have trained your mind and body that 20 minutes is enough time. Or even shorter scraps, if that’s all you have.
In fact, one of the people who filled out the March, 2022 survey said they write in five minutes sprints because they have ADHD and that’s all they can do. You need to find what works for you. And 20 minutes is a great starting point.
Myth number three. I’m too tired, distracted, or unmotivated to write. Being tired as hard. We’re all tired for one reason or another.
There’s a quote, my student Judalon told me that her dad used to say, it goes something like, “Every worthwhile thing that’s ever been done in the world was done by a very tired person.”
She wasn’t quite sure if he made that up or was quoting someone else, but such powerful words, right.
Staying up too late, sleeping, poorly, not sleeping at all, imbibing too much the night before, your colicky baby up all night, your partner’s snoring was like being at a monster truck rally.
The same goes for being distracted. We are in the Distraction Age, the era of notifications and pop-up ads and everything else vying for our attention.
Not to mention the things in our real lives like stress from our day jobs. Or maybe something else is going on, that’s distracting you and that’s even a little more different.
But have you tried using whatever emotions you’re feeling to fuel your writing?
Here’s your mindset shift for this one: Oftentimes my most tired, distracted and unmotivated days are my best writing days.
This has been true for me on so many occasions. I can’t even begin to estimate how often it happens.
And yes, there are always good days and bad days when it comes to writing. But as long as you show up and do the work and don’t allow those pesky inner thoughts to coerce you into skipping, you’ll still add words to your manuscript. You can always polish them later to make them sparkle and shine.
Even if you’re tired, just write, even if you’re brain dead and you can’t even think straight just right. Even if you’re unmotivated, you guessed it just right.
20 minutes is all you need to do. Go hide in a cave for 20 minutes, lock yourself in the bathroom and turn on the fart fan, you know, to deter any nosy family members from knocking and asking what you’re doing in there.
Myth number four: My writing time is always interrupted. So why even bother trying.
I get it. Life. Isn’t always neat and tidy. It doesn’t always fit in a perfectly scheduled list of activities. Despite our best efforts to plan our days, something is bound to mess something up and throw the whole timeline out of whack.
People also don’t take our writing time seriously. But here’s the thing.
If you don’t take your writing time, seriously, no one will.
Let me say that again.
If you’re multitasking, you’re doing something else. While listening to this, come back and listen to this. If you don’t take your writing time seriously, no one else will.
In the before times when I had to slog to a cubicle every morning. People would actually interrupt me while on my lunch break to ask me what I was doing.
“I’m working on my novel” I’d tell them.
“Oh, I didn’t know. You were a writer,” they’d say.
“Yep. I’m a writer.”
“That’s so cool. So listen, I need your help with…”
And they’d go on to tell me something they needed my help with as an employee of the company. Yes. They interrupted my writing time, my lunch break to ask me to do something work-related.
Even though I was sitting there with earbuds in like, Hello, that is the international sign for don’t talk to me, right.
So fast forward a couple of months of consistently writing in the lunch room, those people started taking me seriously. I started getting comments like, “Wow, Claire, your dedication is astonishing. I wish I had the drive to do what you’re doing.”
I believed in my writing life and I gave my writing time priority.
I showed up.
People noticed they took me seriously. They stopped bothering me while I was hunched over my little netbook computer.
They started to respect my time.
So to you who say, why bother? Because to bother is to get it done.
In other words. Because that was kind of a strange way to say this. If you love to write, if it’s a calling or a passion. Respect that desire and give into it.
Here’s your mindset shift to help with this. I can plan for distractions and interruptions by showing up. When I say I will. And as often as I can. As a result, people will take me seriously as a writer and learn to respect my time.
This mindset shift is for those who have a scheduled time, they don’t show up to because they promise they’ll make it up later. And for those who don’t even try, who assumed there will be interruptions. So when they actually do have time to write, they already have a preconceived notion that that time won’t last long enough.
For the first kids, show up to your writing time because chances are later won’t come because something else will come up that takes priority over the writing time that you promised you would do later. Show up to your scheduled time. Then later, if there’s even more time to write, then you have a double prizes writing day.
For the second kids, the ones who already have a preconceived notion that their time will get interrupted, write anyway.
When you find you have a moment to take a breath. Set your timer for 20 minutes and write. If nothing interrupts you keep going. If you have time, if something does interrupt you, at least you got that many minutes of writing time in.
Also, give the tools from the plan for anything episode’s another look. I provided a quick reference guide to keep handy, go check it out at YouCanToucan.com/planforanything.
It’s all about baby steps here. Show up when you say you’re going to. Sit down and write. Plan for interruptions. Show those around you—your repeat offenders when it comes to interruptions—that you are serious. Your writing matters to you.
Before long they’ll understand. They’ll respect your time. They’ll see you hunched over your computer or notebook or stone tablet. And before they even open their mouth to interrupt you, they’ll nod to themselves.
“There she goes, writing the next great American novel.”
Their eyes will glisten with proud tears as they turn away and let you have at it.
Myth number five. I don’t even know where to start writing a book is too hard.
You, my friend are absolutely right. Writing a book is hard. Starting a book is hard. Writing beginnings is hard. Some people say start on chapter two, but if you’re a pantser like me, I don’t know what chapter two even is yet. The key here though is to just start somewhere.
If writing a book was easy, everyone would be doing it. And the bookshelves would be even more saturated with amazing stories. Or let’s face it utter garbage. But mostly amazing stories.
The difference between those who long to write a book and those who actually do is passion, desire and dedication.
So tell yourself, when you find you’re saying it’s too hard, I don’t know where to start, tell yourself this: I’ll tell the story the best way I can, showing up when I say I’m going to show up, or every day, will make it easier.
If you’re just starting out with a burning desire to write a book, this is for you.
You do know where to start. Do you tell stories to people at parties or when you’re catching up with your friends, do they enjoy your stories? Then you know where to start.
People who want to write a book, usually have a story or an idea they want to share with the world through prose. Or they’ve been inspired by another person’s books or stories.
Just sit down and start writing. Okay. Start by writing down the idea as if you’re telling it to your friend, you can even start this session, the writing session with, “Hey, I have this great idea for a story. It’s all about…”
And then go on to tell your friend about the story. I call this a narrative summary, and sometimes I’ll begin a new book project by telling myself here’s the idea and everything I know about it.
You could even record yourself telling your trusted friend—I’ll have a future episode about what trusted friend means—the story idea of that helps.
Once you get your narrative summary down, you can start to put things into some kind of order.
You can see the shape of the story, the bones.
You might even be able to picture who the main characters are. They may have already become real people to you. Knowing a little about the people involved in the story. You can begin to flesh out the scenes, add some dialogue, some conflict.
And, you know, you can always hire a coach to help you. That was a completely shameless plug. Wasn’t it?
Despite the over a million words I’ve written and the folders full of novel length manuscripts, taking up space on my hard drive. Every time I start writing a new book, I’m reminded of how hard it is. And there are days where I wail to the ceiling, “Why am I doing this? It’s hard.” Okay. It is. But the thing is we just keep going.
This is the nature of doing creative work of tapping into these parts of our minds that aren’t always easy to access.
It’s calling upon and believing in external hire influences like gods or muses or the universe in general.
You can’t see imagination. Creativity is intangible.
The only proof you have that you’re even doing anything is your word count tracker and the satisfaction of adding words to the page.
Tap into that feeling whenever you feel like this is too hard.
And always, always, always remember your why. Why do you want to write. Why do you want to write this story? And what is your end goal for writing the story?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you keep going day after day, especially when all you want to do is pound your head against the desk and cry about how hard it is.
So, set your timer for 20 minutes. It’s only 20 minutes. And just start somewhere and then? Just keep going.
So here’s a quick recap of the myths and mindset shifts. Before I launch into a very special announcement.
Myth number one, I don’t have time to write mindset shift. I do have time to write. Because all you need is 20 minutes.
Myth number two. I only have small scraps of free time. There’s no way I can get into my story in that short amount of time. Mindset shift. If I keep showing up, it will get easier. Small scraps of time are enough.
Myth number three. I’m too tired, distracted, or unmotivated to write. Mindset shift. Oftentimes my most tired, distracted and unmotivated days are my best writing days.
Myth number four. My writing time is always interrupted. Why even bother trying.
Mindset shift. I can plan for distractions and interruptions by showing up when I say will. And as often as I can. As a result. People will take me seriously as a writer and learn to respect my time.
And finally, myth number five. I don’t even know where to start writing a book is too hard. And here’s your last mindset shift? I’ll tell the story the best way I can showing up will make it easier.
So, there you have it. Five myths and the mindset shifts to overcome them for ease of reference. I have put together a little guide for you simply head on over to YouCanToucan.com/myths to grab it. I will link to it in the show notes.
I even have a place for you to brainstorm any other myths you tell yourself about writing as well as a place to shift your mindset around those beliefs.
I’d love to hear what other things your mind tells you when it’s time to hit the keyboard or open your notebook or pull out your stone tablet.
Use the question form in the show notes or visit YouCanToucan.com/questions to let me know.
If you’re struggling to reframe the myth into a mindset shift, perhaps I can help you.
Now if you were nodding along to some most, or all of this, but you’re unsure of how to actually make these shifts stick. Because let’s face it, mindset work is hard. We fall into these ruts in these Limiting beliefs and preconceived notions become rote in our minds. And that’s just how we believe things. And it’s very hard to retrain your mind to think differently, especially if you’ve been dealing with these mindsets for a long time.
So, I am ridiculously excited to announce that I have just released the Busy Author Toolbox course just in time to jumpstart your writing life in 2023.
If you are interested in learning how to cultivate awareness of your time and habits to fit, writing into your busy schedule.
Activate what time you do have to make the most of it.
Nix those internal excuses that hold you back from being the writer you long to be.
Diligently show up by eliminating, eliminating external obstacles that stand between you and your writing time and
Overtake your writing goals so that you can get to The End.
The busy author toolbox is your perfect solution.
Now is the best time to grab your writing habit by the horns and start your year off on the right foot when it comes to your writing practice.
I want to remind you again, that I also have a free 30-day challenge.
I mentioned it earlier in this episode and also in episode eight. Which was the breaking bad habits episode. It’s an email a week for 30 days with pep talks to keep you going. To learn more about these two exciting programs and more head over to youcantoucan.com/jumpstart.
Well, my friend, this is the last episode of 2022. I’ll be back in your ears on January 2nd in the new year.
Thank you so much for tuning in every week. I hope it was as much a blast for you as it was for me.
If you found this podcast helpful, please, in the spirit of giving, go drop a rating on your favorite podcast app, where if you’re feeling extra generous, leave a few kind words too, or even extra generous, just share it with a friend.
I wish you a very Merry holiday season and a safe and happy new year.
Set your timer. Go write.
The Busy Author Toolbox is open for registration!
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Claire L. Fishback
Author coach, project manager, published author, amazing wife, dog mom, artist, twin, and your host and guide to discovering your path to the writing life of your dreams!
Youcan the Toucan