Monday, April 11, 2016

Keep Moving

by Jewel Allen

Every morning, I show up at my Crossfit gym with a knot in my stomach. I know I can look up the workout on the website or Facebook page, but I’d rather not know what I’m up against. Today’s was a killer. It was this long list that looked intimidating on the whiteboard. Even at the scaled level, I felt so wiped out I didn’t do a post-workout run like I normally do on weekdays until after I’d rested.
Part of today’s workout was squat cleans. It’s lifting a bar to about your chin and squatting with this said weight, then getting up again. I was doing fine, except for the squat. I stopped. A lot. I thought about sitting down. Just for a moment. But I knew I had to keep going or I would never move again. Finally, I finished the dang workout, just three minutes shy of the maximum time allowed.

Inertia - in this case, tendency to stay in a resting position - is one of those laws of physics that can derail our good intentions. And it can happen to writers especially.

Writing is a solitary pursuit, and thus, it is so easy to stop moving towards our goal. Because ultimately, if you stop, the world still keeps turning. No one will pound on your door to beg you to finish it (unless you are an established writer and your fans clamor for your next installment).

My goal recently has been to finish a manuscript that I’ve been working on now for a decade. I started, shelved, and re-started it I don’t know how many times. There was even a period there where I wanted to give up on writing altogether.

Here are some things I did that kept me moving once again towards my writing goals:

1.I attended a writing retreat. After a period of non-writing and not even attending writer’s conferences, I finished the draft of the novel’s sequel during a frenzied weekend with other crazy writers. I had no time to think and second-guess myself. I met another writer who became a fabulous critique partner/supporter.

2.I forked up serious money for a writing workshop. I like writing conferences. I really do. But sometimes, I come away with lots of general ideas but not enough personalized, specific help. For example, with my current manuscript, I wanted to know how to add setting, but I didn’t know how to tackle it. One day, as I scrolled on Facebook, I came upon a post by David Farland for one of his writing workshops. I peeked at the price tag and said, no way. Finally, I dared myself to do it. I just knew that I was at a point in my writing career where I couldn’t do it by myself. So I took a leap, and it was one of the best investments I have ever made.
A writing workshop is great because as you learn principles, you can exchange critiques with the same group of people who are learning those principles. There are a number of workshops out there, I am sure. But I highly recommend David Farland’s.

3.I had a cover designed. Nowadays, you can get a fairly inexpensive, professionally done cover. Or you could make your own. And then put it up on your computer desktop where you can peek at it once in a while. For me, looking at my cover reminded me of the story’s tone, of my main character’s personality, and inspires me through my messy revisions.

4.I re-read the draft of the sequel. I laughed. I cried. I swooned. I realized that in order for me to put number 2 book out, I needed to put number one out first.

5.I joined a goal-setting group. Sometimes, it’s nice to not talk about writing goals with other writers because you tend to have envious vibes and feel like you are not measuring up. My goal-setting group (which includes non- writers) meets once a month in someone’s home. We share goals. We ask for help for ideas to achieve those goals. Then the next time, we report. Having a group like this keeps me accountable and constantly working towards my goals.

If you find yourself with writer’s inertia, or just need to motivate yourself to go to the next level in your writing, try one or more of those antidotes I listed.  In the comments, feel free to share what has worked for you.

Jewel Allen is an award-winning journalist, author, ghostwriter, mom and politician. Read about her adventures on


  1. One day I will do Davids workshop! For now what keeps me going is an article I read. I was like, YES I need to do this! Now I am halfway done with a book that's been in my head forever and I have a goal for it to be all shiny by the next story makers (2017) so I can enter contests and start bragging about my book!

  2. That is great Johanna! And yes Story makers is awesome. Keep writing...good for you!