How Your Flexibility is Actually Hurting Your Writing Career

by | Sep 15, 2017 | Craft | 33 comments

It’s fashionable these days to be flexible in all areas of life.

The demands of your job are always changing, your family dynamic is in perpetual flux and news breaks in a flash.You have to adapt or you’ll be left behind.

However, I’m here to tell you that being too flexible can actually hurt your writing career.

If you don’t have a strong, unwavering foundation, our frenzied world will swallow you up.

And nothing is more vulnerable in this regard than your writing — the next “urgent” matter is always waiting around the corner to commandeer whatever time you thought you had to write.

Only by standing steadfast in your convictions can you protect your writing career against the ravages of the mayhem.

Here are three ways being inflexible can actually make you a better writer.

1. Finish what you start

Writers tend to be creative sorts, which is great for coming up with story ideas, but can be lousy for fulfilling long-term dreams.

The problem is that we often have so many ideas that it can be hard to stay focused on the project in front of us. It’s infinitely more exciting, after all, to start on something new than to plug away at the novel we’ve been writing for the last two months.

The truth is, though, that writing is like every other job — sometimes it really is just a job.

You have to grind through the tough and boring tasks of filling in your story and developing your characters if you want to reach your ultimate goals.

How many abandoned novels or blog posts do you have lying around right now? If you’re like most authors, the answer is, “too many.”

Wouldn’t you have been closer to “success” — however you define that — if you had managed to actually finish just half of those stunted works rather than moving on to something shiny and new when the going got tough?

I know I would have.

Be flexible with the projects you consider, but once you commit to something, you need to become rigid in your determination to see it through.

Be inflexible when your mind tries to tell you that a sparkly vampire YA novel would be so much more fun than the Western you’re halfway through.

Hold fast to your original conviction and finish what you started.

become a better writer 2. Protect your writing time

We’re really good at doing things for other people, and we hardly ever miss an “appointment” that impacts someone other than ourselves.

When was the last time you bagged a meeting at work or failed to pick up your son from soccer practice? You probably can’t even remember.

But when was the last time you went a day without hitting your writing goals or without writing at all? It probably happens all the time, or at least more frequently than you would like.

The problem is we inherently love to please people, and we hate to disappoint them. We’ll go out of our way to make sure we serve those around us even if that means missing out on something we really want to do.

You can fix this situation starting today, though, and you can do it without compromising on your commitments and without feeling guilty. The solution starts and ends with your daily calendar.

Specifically, you need to find the open spots in your calendar every day and then actually schedule them as writing times just like you would any other appointment. Tell everyone who might be affected by your schedule and share your electronic calendar with them if possible.

Now, the tough part — stick to your schedule!

You wouldn’t leave your son standing out in the rain after practice just because your neighbor asked you to help move some furniture, and you shouldn’t give up your writing appointment, either.

Make the time commitments to yourself and to your writing, and then be inflexible with regard to that schedule. Nothing short of a bloody emergency should keep your butt from that chair or your fingers from that keyboard.

3. Keep writing

Writing is hard, and it’s hard in all sorts of ways.

It’s hard to sit down and write every day when you know there will be days that the words just won’t come. It’s hard to keep pushing through your novel when it takes you a month to write 20 pages and you have 200 more to go. It’s hard to identify yourself as a writer when you haven’t published anything and you hold down a full-time job that doesn’t involve any sort of writing.

You know what’s easy? Giving up.

But you can’t do that because you are a writer. I know you are because you’re reading this article. You have stories to tell and messages to deliver to the world, and you need to accept that your words are worth hearing, worth all the hard days and nights.

You must be inflexible in your resolve to become the writer you know, deep in your soul, you’re supposed to be.

It’s a fast-moving world out there, and you can’t afford to stand still.

But if you don’t tap into the power that a little inflexibility can impart, your author self may get swept away in the tide of constant change.

Stand strong on your writing foundation, though, and you’ll be able to endure the chaos around you and ultimately achieve your goals.

What do you think? Can being inflexible actually help your writing? Let us know in the comments.