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How to Keep Writing When You Want to Give Up

Was 2014 going to be the year you finally started a blog or finished that novel?

Well, we’re two-thirds of the way through the year. How’s it going?

Of course, I hope that you’ve met all your goals and are enjoying a celebratory slice of cake right now. But if you’re anything like me, those big plans you made at New Year’s have long since melted in the summer heat. Here are Grammarly’s top five tips for staying creative when you feel like quitting.

Just say no to excuses. It’s too hot. You have to drop the kids off or pick them up. It’s almost dinner time. The holidays are coming up, and you’re just really, really busy, okay?

We make excuses all the time, but what we’re really doing is making something else in our lives a priority. If you really want to write, then nothing should stop you. Ditch the excuses and remind yourself of how important your writing project is to you.

Time Travel. Think about how amazing it’ll feel to type the last word on the last page of your book. Imagine seeing an archive of blog posts to delight your visitors. Picture all the ways that finally meeting your goal will put a smile on your face. Your awesome future self is waiting for you to catch up!

Find fifteen minutes. Joel Falconer at Lifehacker recommends creating a morning ritual to get yourself in the mood to create, saying that “if you repeat the same actions before doing creative work for long enough, it eventually creates an association that tells the mind to get in a particular zone.” If you can carve out just fifteen minutes every day—first thing in the morning is best—you’ll be amazed at how much progress you can make.

Challenge yourself. According to Sarah West Ervin over at Bustle, “the best fuel for creativity is discomfort. The easiest way to churn out the same work over and over is to get comfortable with your abilities and techniques, but seeking out new problems will challenge your skills.” Try new foods, take a class in something you’ve never done, or go someplace you’ve never been. If you’re stuck in a rut, a great way to break through writer’s block is to free write. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling; just get it down on paper. You can always proofread later.

Cultivate grit. According to Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth, the most accurate predictor of success is a quality she calls grit. Her TED Talk focuses on meeting educational goals, but her advice is sound for anyone with a challenging long-term goal. Perseverance in the face of frustration is more important than any other factor. Remember, as long as you keep moving forward, even one step at a time, you’ll eventually reach your goal. The difference between success and failure isn’t talent or luck, but the sheer bloody-minded determination to keep going.

I’ll leave you with this quote from the great Ray Bradbury: “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”

What are you going to do today? Share your goal in the comments!

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