Why the Easiest Advice Is Also the Hardest

Posted December 5, 2013 by Amanda Shofner in Writing / 2 Comments


“Just sit down and write” is one piece of advice budding writers hear a lot of.

And it’s easy. I mean, just write. Right?


Because it can take a lot to sit yourself down in front of the computer and write. In theory, it’s easy to sit down and write. You only have to do it! But in practice, it all goes wrong. You have this chore to do or that event to attend or this writing book to read, and three weeks later, the story or post you wanted to write is still unwritten.

And then you’re left standing in line for a cup of coffee—or somewhere equally public because these revelations never happen somewhere convenient—thinking, “Son of a…!”

When you defeat yourself

The easiest advice is also the hardest. You’re your own worst enemy. What does your internal talk sound like?

“I can’t write this story until I read all the writing advice I’ve got because I’m inexperienced.”

“I’m bad at grammar/dialogue/writing, so it’s a lost cause.”

“I need to clean the house/work on ‘real work’/rake the leaves in the yard/wash the cat and I just don’t have time to write.”

“I’m never going to be able to write a book, so why even bother?”

And you know that all you’re doing is making excuses.

Let’s break this negative self-talk down

You’re inexperienced? You’ll learn by writing. You’re bad at grammar? That’s why you have editors. You don’t have the time to write? You’re not making writing a priority. You don’t think you can finish writing a book? You never know until you try.

No, really. I’d never finished a story until my first NaNoWriMo, and then I was like, “Hey! I can do this!” And so can you—if you try.

What have I told you?

1. Stop listening to your doubts.
2. Silence your inner perfectionist.
3. Your first draft sucks.

Embrace it all. Make writing a priority. If you don’t, no one else will force you to.

Writing is a mental game. And it’s you against all your doubts and excuses. Are you going to let some stupid insecurities stop you from doing what you want?

(Hint: there’s a right answer and it’s “NO.”)

Learn to play the game—and win

If you’re a runner, you understand what it means to play mental games. The difference between reaching your goals and not usually comes down to how you talk to yourself while you’re running.

If you tell yourself, “I’m never going to make it,” “I’m so tired,” or “I can’t do this,” you’re not going to do it. Writing is like running. Anyone can get out and run—or write. Some people are better at it than others, but that doesn’t mean you should give up or quit.

It means you might need to train harder. Or silence your inner doubter.

Writing is as easy as sitting down to write. But first you have to learn how to get yourself in the chair.

How do you get yourself in the chair and writing?

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2 responses to “Why the Easiest Advice Is Also the Hardest

  1. Jen

    Writing is totally a mental game. Some days it’s so hard to get motivated. There are a million reasons to not do it and to tell yourself you just can’t. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit and labor over that first sentence, then it goes from there. Other times, I need to hand write out a little outline or scribble notes on a page. But, none of it happens if you don’t first get in that chair.

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