My guest today is womagwriter, author and writing coach Cat Lumb.
Why Your Writing is Important
As writers, it’s easy to put off our writing for another day. Especially when other people are vying for our attention, tasks need completing, and there’s always just ‘one more thing to do’. We postpone our solitary session in front of the page because our friends or family need us - a quick favour, or phone call, or trip to the shops. Every distraction is a reason to step away and one more delay to our writing progress.
As a Writing Coach I see this often in my clients’ lives. Because their writing is only important to them it gets pushed down the to-do list. We justify it because there isn’t a looming deadline, and the consequences of not writing that day seem less impactful on those around us. After all, it’s just ourselves we’re letting down, not anyone else. And we do this so much that writing rarely reaches the top of the endless list of things we promise to everyone else first.
But why is it that our own writing dreams are less important than a trip to the supermarket, a phone call with a friend, or that unanswered email?
In part it’s because it’s easier to neglect our writing than it is to ignore a human being. We don’t want to let other people down, and our writing will always be there for another day, right? While our dream might be important to us, it’s not to anyone else, and it’s certainly not urgent: not like the cacophony of demands from people around us.
So we put it off, and hope that we can get back to it another day.
Except, of course, tomorrow is exactly the same as it was yesterday and today, and in a world of instant and immediate communication it’s assumed rude to ignore a message for more than a few hours.
Yet, whenever we ditch our writing we feel disappointed in ourselves. We take it as a sign that perhaps we’re not meant for writing, and that our dream is just that - a dream, a fantasy, nothing that we deserve given we can’t seem to sit down to it. Because it can feel selfish to take an hour or so out of your day to indulge in your imaginary world. How can you defend spending time with characters that don’t exist off the page when your kids, pets, or family - very real, tangible beings - are calling for you in the background.
But if our writing time is not important enough for us to protect it from all the distractions in our lives, why should other people respect that time we spend writing too? The more often we dismiss our writing ourselves the more regularly people assume we aren’t serious about it.
This is why one of the first things I embed with my clients is the statement: “If my writing is important to me; it’s important.” No justifications or explanations necessary.
Writing is precious and therefore we need to take care of it. Even when those around us can’t understand it, we have to advocate for our dream because nobody else will. And the best way to do this is by putting clear boundaries in place around our writing time.
Imagine a life where you don’t delay your writing dream. When instead of saying ‘Yes’ to something someone else is asking, you say ‘Not right now, because I’m writing’. How much more progress would you make if those in your life respected and accepted your writing time and therefore didn’t interrupt or distract you from it?
The only way this can happen is if you see your writing that way too.
So, the next time you find yourself promising to write, and then never showing up for it - remind yourself that your writing dream is important, it deserves to be protected, nurtured, and permitted to grow. If you believe that your writing is worthy of your time and act accordingly, others will respond in kind. Then perhaps that dream will have a chance to become a reality.
Say it with me: If my writing is important to me, it’s important.__________
As The Write Catalyst I advise this simple exercise to review how you prioritise your writing time in advance - making the decision ahead of time means it’s easier to carry it out in the moment.
Make a list of the things that are MORE important to you than your writing dream (medical emergency, time with children, paid-work). Then make a list of all the things that are LESS important than your writing dream (housework, doom-scrolling, gossiping on the phone).
The next time you are scheduled to sit down to write the ONLY things you are allowed to prioritise above it are those things on the MORE list. If someone calls you for a chat, or the kitchen needs a tidy - those things don’t count; go and write instead!
Cat Lumb is a writer with published fiction in Women's Weekly, Writing Magazine, Comma Press and on Amazon - including her debut novel In Lies We Trust which reached #16 in the Spy Thriller bestseller list in March 2021. She is also a Writing Coach under the alias The Write Catalyst, and supports writers to finally write that novel they dream of using positive encouragement and her decade of writing experience. She also offers advice and support through her blog and social media communities, in addition to online Masterclasses and 1:1 Coaching offers.
Check out her blog: www.catlumb.com/blog
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