The writing industry is rife with advice.
Some of it is great advice. Some is good advice, even if it’s fairly commonplace. But amidst the great and good advice is bad advice, and it’s not always easy to tell the difference.
The bad advice isn’t just bad – it’s often so bad that it does more harm than good. I’ve held the hand of many a writer as I coach them back out of the sucking quagmire of bad advice before they get pulled under by the quicksand.
It’s not always pretty.
It’s definitely always hard.
Want an example of bad writing advice? “Just do it. Get serious, buckle down and GET IT DONE.”
It seems like good advice at first glance. You think, “Yeah, you’re absolutely right. I’ve been dinking around and not really done anything. I’m going to clear the decks, focus only on this writing project for the next three weeks, and I’ll finally be able to get this off my plate. Thanks!”
Don’t thank anyone for that. They’ve just chastised you, called you lazy and given you some of that “easier said than done” counsel. It’s not about being serious or immersing yourself in the GET IT DONE attitude.
It’s about getting it done right. In the right way, in the right environment, and at the right pace.
For writers, that goes double. Triple, even, because most writers don’t get things done at all. They go about their writing projects in the very wrong way, in terrible environments, and at a pace so unrealistic it’d make strong gladiators weep for mercy.
These writers clear the decks of everything, and they isolate themselves with singular focus. GET IT DONE. They shut out all distractions, from Twitter friends to loved ones. They shun baby steps and dive in, working every day, all day. They aim way too high, thinking that of course they can knock out a 20k-word ebook or a 15-email follow-up series, each 2,000 words long.
With the best of intentions and completely unwittingly, these writers immediately check 3 boxes of the 5 boxes on the danger list of the Perfect Storm. Right from the get-go. Straight from day one.
Bad things start to happen. Exhaustion, lack of creativity, mental roadblocks, self-sabotage, blank pages, staring at the screen and utter writer’s block. Invariably, almost all writers ignore these red-alarm signals.
They grit their teeth a little more, put their head down a little further and growl that they’ll just push harder and bull through it. They need to just GET IT DONE.
Come hell or high water.
They get their wish. Like a perfect calling, hell and high water does come. These writers get behind on other projects that start to seem more urgent. They’re running up against deadlines. They’re not creating their best work and then they start to doubt themselves or whether they can even do this.
Maybe what they’re working on isn’t what they should be doing after all. Maybe they should work on something else. But there’s so much of it now, and it all seems equally important… maybe they’re just not cut out for this. What were they thinking?
The Perfect Storm hits. And writers sink fast.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, “just get serious and get it done” is really bad advice for writers. There’s a much better way to achieve your writing goals, and it doesn’t involve gritted teeth, isolation and 3-weeks of eye-melting, brain-draining work.
It involves people.
Isolation doesn’t work for writers – at all. You need other writers around you to make healthy progress. You need to be with writers working towards their own goals at the same time as you work towards yours. You need writers who understand what you’re going through, what you’re trying to do, who understand how you feel and who can help you along the way.
You’d be amazed what you can do when surrounded by other writers. It’s like having the clarity of an entire network of bright lights held high, leading you forward, each with its own intensity and spark.
Being around other writers isn’t just about having a group of like-minded peers to hang out with. It’s about having a community that you belong to and can tap into for motivation, support, accountability, guidance and help.
When you’re surrounded by other writers, you’re encouraged to do more. To try a little harder. To choose a goal and work towards it. To reach it. To get it done, so you can come tell the people who’ve been cheering you on that you made it. To feel proud as you get high fives from the people who’ve provided you with much-needed support along the way.
That’s how you get it done, as a writer. You don’t isolate yourself and go crazy. You wrap yourself with the right people who help you get it done.
Now, most writers don’t have this. They have some online buddies, sure, and they subscribe to some forums, so they think that’s their community of people.
But that only goes so far. Achieving goals as a writer means finding the right group of people – and the right type of writers – to form and build a community focused on helping writers achieve their goals.
Call it the Perfect Circle. Believe me, it’s a much better place to be than smack inside the Perfect Storm.
I know, because I see this Perfect Circle in action each time I work with a group of students in the Damn Fine Words writing course. At first, everyone shuffles around and shyly makes friends, but by the time we reach the third lesson, it’s easy to see the strong, bonding community that has formed.
Not just any community – a writing community, with like-minded peers working towards a common goal.
All students who actively participates in this community report MORE progress with their goals, MORE results from their efforts and big, positive impact from their words. They lean on each other, cheer for each other and create strong momentum that’s virtually unstoppable.
Here’s something else they do that’s really cool: they open up to each other. They talk about their struggles and uncertainties and roadblocks and sticking points. Not because they’re whining – they’re asking for help.
And they get it. Other writers share suggestions, stories, resources, even a pair of fresh eyes or some extra “I believe in you” encouragement. It’s beautiful to see these people watching out for each other, and many become lifelong friends.
This can happen in almost any community of fellow companions working together towards common objectives. But the true shift from hobbyists to professionals is the moment when the Perfect Circle results in tangible financial payoff – and it only happens when you add pro-level support and accountability to the mix.
That’s where almost every “mastermind” group goes wrong. They quickly devolve into empty praise and platitudes, because the balance between support and big “push” is missing.
When you have all of it in one place – the support, the good vibes AND the structure that holds everyone accountable to significant expectations… you’ve nailed it.
That’s community. And that’s writing getting done the right way.
The other day, I asked that you make sure you had some free time on April 28 – specifically at 4pm eastern. Here’s why:
We’re going to bring this community together. We’re going to create the Perfect Circle for writers. And it’s going to be awesome.
I can’t say more right now, but if you mark your calendar for April 28 at 4pm, I’ll give you everything you need to escape the storm and step into the Perfect Circle with me.