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Putting More I Will Into Will Power
by Shirley Raye Redmond

Many beginning writers—and certainly some experienced ones as well—use procrastination as an excuse for their lack of productivity. But procrastination is only a symptom, not the disease. Years of teaching writing courses have put me in contact with hundreds of aspiring writers who blame their writer’s block on shyness, fatigue, lack of time and indecision. By far, the most crippling problem is their lack of will power.

Will power is defined as the "ability to carry out one’s decisions." Unfortunately, will power is not something you’re born with. Writers must develop and strengthen this ability if they are to achieve their goals. Decide that you must write and then rearrange your life to accommodate that decision. This will result in quality writing time, and quality writing time will result in increased sales.

The key word here is "accommodate." Do you actually schedule your writing time? Or is it a hit-or-miss event? Do you plan to go TV-less one or two nights a week? When you do plop down in front of the television, do you do so purposefully or mindlessly? Television viewing is one of the most distracting time-wasters that writers must avoid. Exercise your will power. Resolve to write instead.

If you do choose to watch a particular television program, be conscious of the fact that you’ve chosen not to write. Don’t blame your kids, your job, or your significant other later on when you’re frustrated about your lack of writing time and productivity You alone are responsible for choosing to write or choosing not to writing. And it’s certainly unfair to blame anything or anybody for your own subconscious choice to avoid writing.

Setting monthly and weekly goals and determining to meet those goals are good ways to strengthen your writing will power. Put those goals down on paper and use a calendar, notebook or journal to chart your progress. Invest in an appointment book and schedule regular appointments for researching, writing, and revising—just as you would schedule a doctor or dentist appointment. Your great expectations will be easier to achieve when you can see in writing exactly what they are.

Maintain a positive attitude. If you feel guilty about taking time to write, maybe you shouldn’t write at all. Don’t confuse the positive "I will" with the more negative "I must." Any half-hearted effort will become self-defeating.

Be realistic. It’s going to take time to break bad habits—like making excuses not to write or whining about not having time to write. Your "I will" muscles can’t go from flabby to toned overnight. Just like any other form of exercise, you need to start off slowly and sensibly. You need to be consistent in your efforts. But each time you meet a goal, you will feel empowered. You will have succeeded! And you can succeed again and yet again. As you continually exercise of your "I will" muscles, you’ll begin to feel stronger and more confident. You’ll become more focused and more determined. You’ll become a "buff" writer! And the first step is saying, "I will!"

© Copyright 2000, Shirley Raye Redmond

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