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No More Lies

by Madison Wheatley about a year ago in goals
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In 2021, I'll confront the person who has held me back as a writer: myself.

No More Lies
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

If I’m good at anything, it’s making excuses.

Why haven’t I been writing, you ask?

Oh, I can explain.

“I've been too busy.” “Too tired.” “Too stressed.” “Too uninspired.”

I’ve let myself get away with these and other excuses for years now, and frankly, I’m sick of them. I’m at the point where I’m bored of listening to myself whine about how I just can’t do it. Can’t finish my second book. (I mean, come on, I already wrote one! Isn’t that good enough, world?) Can’t make writing a priority. (I’m so busy, after all.). Can’t come up with ideas. (I’m just not inspired...I need my cruel, fickle muse to anoint me with her holy light of inspiration).

It’s a new year, and I’m done making excuses. I’m done with the lies that have held me back. Because if anything in my writing life is going to change, my mindset has to change.

Now, you may be thinking, “Slow down, now. Self-care is important, and don’t you know we’re in the middle of a pandemic?”

Both of these things are true. I am a big proponent of self-care and rest; I know from personal experience that I can’t do what I need to do without first taking care of myself. And yes, the COVID-19 pandemic and other current events have had a lasting impact on me and on the world I live in. It can be hard to hold myself to strict deadlines and meet challenging goals when it feels like the world is falling apart around me.

But at the same time, I know myself. Even before the pandemic, my mindset about writing wasn’t what it should have been. The chaos of the year didn’t create my laziness and complacency. Rather, it magnified them. Exacerbated them.

So enough is enough. In 2021, I am going to stop lying to myself about my writing life. By eliminating a few common lies from my internal monologue, I am confident that I will see positive changes in my attitude, my habits, and my productivity.

Lie #1: I Don’t Have Any Good Ideas

This is a lie that I have wrestled with ever since I started writing. None of my ideas ever seemed “good enough.” I’d read my peers’ writing and think to myself, “Why couldn’t I have thought of that? It must be because they’re smarter or more creative than I am.”

I now know that it’s foolish to assume that other writers are inherently “smarter” or “more creative." Anyone can have a good idea, after all. Sometimes the difference between me and writers I consider “superior” is simply effort. It’s not that my ideas are “good” or “bad.” It’s that I’ve taken the time to develop some ideas while others I’ve allowed to collect virtual dust in my Google Drive.

The “Good Idea” lie is especially seductive to me when I consider my debut paranormal thriller Ambrosia. I used to tell others that the idea for the book “came out of the blue.” While this is true to a certain extent, it leaves out two important truths: 1. It took hard work to develop the idea into a full-fledged book. 2. We can’t always have ideas drop out of thin air; sometimes we have to work for them. Usually we have to work for them.

Lie #2: I’m Too Busy To Make Writing A Priority

By Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

This lie is easy for me to fall prey to because it seems so true. As a teacher and residential youth counselor, my life is packed full of responsibilities. There are times when it seems like every moment of my day is spoken for.

Yet I always seem to find time to play games on my phone. Mindlessly scroll social media. Watch stupid videos on YouTube.

I can’t have it both ways. Either I’m “too busy” to focus on my writing or I’m not. When I analyze my own behaviors and the way I spend my time, I have to come to the conclusion that I’m not too busy to write. Instead, I’m not using my time wisely.

This year, I am going to stick to a schedule that allows me to make time for all my activities: work-related, writing, and leisure. With this schedule, I don't forbid myself any rest or relaxation. Rather, I will designate for myself a time to relax and a time to work.

Lie #3: I’m Too Stressed To Write

This one is going to be a tricky lie to deal with. On one hand, I recognize that it’s crucial that I take care of my mental health. I accept the fact that I am going to have moments where I need to stop, breathe, and take care of myself before I think about writing.

On the other hand, I can’t let my stress paralyze me. If I’m going to change the direction of my writing life, I have to accept the fact that writing for me is no longer a fun little hobby: it’s a job. I can’t just not go to work because I’m stressed or don’t feel like it. I have to take the same approach toward writing if I am ever going to make a career out of it.

To combat this lie, I am going to write early in the mornings, before the stress of work and home have the chance to get to me. I have found that in the mornings, when everyone else is still asleep and the day has just begun, I don’t feel stressed, and it is easier for me to stay “in the zone.”

By Dan Counsell on Unsplash

Conclusion

My hope is that no one reading this thinks that I am writing it from a place of judgment or superiority. Maybe, due to extenuating circumstances, you truly are too busy or too stressed to focus on writing right now. Sometimes the crises of life get in the way, and we have to put creative goals momentarily on the back burner.

But for those of you who would like to be more productive, more effective writers, I hope that you look at yourself and ask this question: “What lies do I tell myself, and how do these lies keep me from writing?” The lies you struggle with might be different from mine, but the result is the same: You’re not the writer you would like to be.

The lies we tell ourselves can hold us back, but by reaching out to other writers, we can combat these lies together and instead accept a simple truth that will lead us toward success: Being a good writer isn’t about having unlimited time or supernatural luck. Instead, it’s about making the most of what we have, putting in the effort, and not letting fear or insecurity keep us from doing the work we need to do.

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About the author

Madison Wheatley

Madison Wheatley is a poet and fiction writer in Jackson, Tenn., where she works as a residential youth counselor. She is the author of the paranormal thriller AMBROSIA and several short stories and poems.

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