I’ve never met a writer who didn’t claim to want to grow and improve. Everyone single one I’ve ever met has had some sort of a goal. Oh don’t get me wrong, the goals differ widely—from wanting to write and publish the next great American novel, to just wanting to see their name in print, to wanting to record the family stories for the next generation. All of these different goals require growth.
But while everyone says they want to grow and improve—many don’t take even the simplest of steps to achieve that growth. So today, instead of pointing out what writers should do to grow, I’m going to turn the tables and give you a list on what to do if you do NOT want to grow as a writer. Beware if you fall into too many of the traps I’ve listed below.
9 Steps to Avoid if You Want to Grow as a Writer
1. Don’t Write. Instead talk about writing, meet with others who are writing, and definitely read about writing. But don’t ever let yourself record words on a page.
2. Focus on the Reasons Why NOT. I don’t know a single successful writer who actually has time to write. Every single one of them lives in the midst of circumstances that would keep any sane person from spending time at the computer composing manuscripts. At one point or another we all deal with family crisis, health issues, and overwhelming chaos. Be sure you always focus on why you don’t have time to write and you’ll be composing your own self-defeating philosophy.
3. Listen to and Obey the Negative Voices in Your Head. Writers are our own worst enemies. We can come up with more reasons to fail than any group of people we might encounter. Focus on those voices that whisper what a failure you are and that no one will ever read what you’ve written.
4. Never Invest Time or Especially Money in Your Foolish Dream. Life has shown me that I get out of something what I’m willing to get into it. If I’m not willing to invest in my dream, that will definitely keep me from making any kind of progress. So to avoid growth I need to keep my money in my wallet and my time spent elsewhere by avoiding attending conferences, buying books, joining writing groups.
5. Put ALL Relationships above Writing Time. We all know there’s nothing more important than relationships. Balance is good, but focusing only on relationships is even better—if you never want to grow. Truthfully I don’t know of a single profession that doesn’t cause us to make sacrifices and choices. By only being available to help out others, we’re being generous. Who cares if we’re not following our calling.
6. Hang Out with Others Who Aren’t Writing. I’m not talking about non-writers. I’m talking about others who want to write, but never seem to find the time. By hanging out with these folks you’ll be able to reinforce the decisions you’re making and commiserate about how you’re too _________ to write and isn’t that a shame.
7. Never Take ANY Risks. Growth requires stretching, and yes, often pain. If you never take any risks you’ll be able to get through this phase of wanting to write without making any forward motion.
8. Ignore the Fact that God Gave You this Gift of Words. You can’t even be sure, in a black and white sort of way, that God did birth this dream inside you. It’s silly to follow something you’re not sure of. After all, if He really wanted you to write, He’d have provided the time you needed, right?
9. Never Set Goals and Especially Never Write Them Down. We all know what happens when you set goals, we tend to work toward them. And if we write them down, we’re almost doomed to follow through. If you never want to make progress as a writer, avoid this snare.
I hope and pray that none of you find yourself in the traps above. I’m ashamed to say that—at one time or another—I’ve fallen into most of the them at one time or another. Fortunately, I’ve surrounded myself with people who will tell me the truth and ask me the hard questions.
What would you add to my list? Come one, I’ve been honest, now it’s your turn. Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook. Look for her newest book, While My Soldier Serves (Worthy Inspired), available at bookstores and online.