My last blog addressed the importance of establishing momentum to keep your writing flowing. Momentum isn’t something that can be conjured up. It comes from diligently practicing good writing habits. This is the first in a series of writer’s-block buster habits designed to get you unstuck, on track, and in the flow!
Writer’s Block Buster #1. Know your reason for writing
No doubt, you have heard people say it’s important to know your “why” for writing. Likely they mean determining whether you are writing for personal expression or writing for market trends. In this Writer’s Block Buster, I’m suggesting that our “why” goes deeper than we think. I’m talking about searching your heart to understand what inspires you to write, because knowing this will likely keep you motivated to write.
Know what inspires you to write
Recently, I was introduced to the book, Find Your Why: A practical guide for discovering purpose for you and your team, by Simon Sinek with David Mead and Peter Docker (New York, NY: Penguin Random House, LLC, 2017). While this book isn’t about writing, I think completing the seemingly simple exercise of writing your WHY STATEMENT may help you explore your purpose, and as a result, your motivations. It goes like this: TO________________SO THAT_____________. In the first blank, write your contribution to the lives of others and in the second blank, write the impact that contribution makes. Try it—it’s harder than you think! Maybe you will start with multiple statements until you see a repeating theme that will help you hone it to a single one.
Face it, it’s unlikely we will write a bestseller that will make enough money to support us for the rest of our lives. So why write? Maybe you write because you take pleasure in it or hope that in the reading of it, someone’s life might be a least briefly changed for the better. Try to articulate your motivation by writing a WHY STATEMENT for your reader. Maybe something like this: Because of your message, what do you want your reader to do that contributes in a positive way to their own life or someone else’s? By the way, it doesn’t have to be nonfiction or a self-help message to do that! Even fiction may transport someone to a place that, at least temporarily, delights or excites them.
Being convinced your reason for writing is important should be a big motivator! Also in considering your why, identify your target audience how you want to appeal to them: to uplift, educate, inform, or entertain. Maybe your reason is more personal: to express your thoughts or creativity, or leave a historical record for someone to discover in the future. Determine your writing is important and necessary and just write, write, write!
For whose glory do you write?
Sometimes we fantasize about our book being published and becoming a recognized author and sought-after speaker—to be known. Maybe even to be in the spotlight. There are many valid reasons for writing, but it is most satisfying for me is when the underlying motivation is for the glory of God.
I have noticed that as humans, we seek to answer three basic questions about ourselves: (1) Am I significant? (2) Does my life matter? and (3) Where do I belong? The Bible tells us that (1) we are significant to God and he loves as his very own child, (2) we have a purpose in life that is part of his plan, and that as people of faith, (3) we are part of God’s family and heirs to his kingdom. I find answering these questions from a biblical perspective is empowering.
But sometimes our egos get in the way and we are tempted to want our names to be great rather than God’s. We seek to answer these questions in selfish ways. The answers might look like this: (1) our significance comes from popularity, power, or wealth, (2) our purpose is guided by self-recognition or perhaps greed, and (3) we belong to groups that are popular or powerful in order to give us identity. I suggest that when you find your true answers to these questions, you will find your why. I am always surprised that when I seek to first bring God glory, he shows up to inspire my writing!
Make it a habit!
Whatever your reason for writing, be absolutely convinced of your why and it’s impact. Make it a habit of continually reminding yourself of the importance of your writing. Then just do it and don’t be discouraged!
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