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Change and Grow – 6 Small Changes


By Deborah Courtney


If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living.

— Gail Sheehy


Growth and change feel uncomfortable.

Because of that most people avoid them. Like the plague.

And they end up on a path that feels meaningless and repetitive. In a rut.

A very long and deep one and it is comfortable. Maybe mind-numbingly so.

But human beings kind of like ruts. Maybe even love them. Even as we complain about being in one.

Because growth and change challenge us. At their base, they are risk-taking behaviors – go toward the unknown which may mean pain or failure or loss of control or losing one’s fuzzy comfy bunny slippers. To be rejected out of hand – after all, how do you know you will even LIKE the new slippers? What if they aren’t fuzzy? Or comfy?

Writing, as a vocation or hobby, can add a whole new layer to our angst about change. Because we write with no clear reward in sight, and we avoid writing to avoid pain of failure or avoid risk-taking, or just because we are in the rut of not writing.

And yet if you spend time thinking about writing your book, wondering why you aren’t writing your book, working on your book in haphazard spurts only to begin avoiding and procrastinating again almost immediately….YOU LONG FOR CHANGE AND GROWTH.

But they are hard.

There’s a big difference between what you say you want, and what you are willing to commit to in order to get there. And it takes change. And growth. And persistence. And it will be painful.

But that’s okay because the kind of pain we are talking about is productive – it comes with risk, and often reward.

So how do you get from where you are, to where you believe you want to be?

Try these Six Small Changes For Writers

  1. BELIEVE the book you want to write is in you. Know you can achieve this. Envision it as completed already and your only job is to transcribe it into your computer (or notebook).
  2. Don’t motivate yourself to write a book motivate yourself to do the next thing that will stack up into a series of things which will get you to your goal. Complete the next sentence or the next paragraph or the next scene and then walk away. This is the difference between focusing on MACRO goals and MICRO goals. Today you are not writing a BOOK, you are writing a SCENE, or however small a goal you feel you need to achieve. Small achievements stack together to eventually achieve your goal. So motivate to DO THE NEXT THING.
  3. If you are missing knowledge that you need in order to achieve your goal, get it. Take an online class, join a discussion group. Find other writers whose brains you can pick. It can be expensive to take a lot of classes, and no one is saying you need to spend a ton to get this knowledge explore the available options and pursue the ones which you have time and adequate funds for. Gaining knowledge will assist in execution of your writing desires, better and faster than if you go it alone. Avoid pursuing knowledge/information as an additional means of avoidance or procrastination – frequently research can substitute for the work of writing.
  4. Fit your new habits into your existing life. If you are busy – and these days who isn’t – having a goal to write 10 hours a week may literally be beyond your capacity. Think through the time you realistically have to spend on THE NEXT THING, and book out a daily or weekly chunk of time to do only that. Setting and meeting goals is way more fulfilling and motivating than setting unrealistic goals and rarely meeting them. The former builds you up while the latter encourages avoidance, procrastination, and negative self-talk.
  5. Approach your writing time with optimism and positivity. If you are having trouble with a scene or a plot point, skip it and move to one that you CAN approach with positivity. Staring at a blank page while your brain floods with negative thoughts WILL NOT GET YOUR BOOK DONE. Eventually, you will work out why the troublesome scene is causing avoidance, and you will either change it to solve the problem or be able to write it in spite of the difficulty.
  6. When you make an appointment with yourself to write, keep it. That’s part of why you should schedule your writing time for as short a time as you think necessary for the next bit you have to write – it’s way more difficult to justify avoiding a 15 or 30-minute writing session than it is to avoid a DAY of writing.

Six Small Changes. And they are small.

That does not mean they will be easy, or that you will manage them well, or that you will keep every commitment you are making to yourself in order to change yourself from someone who wants to write into someone WHO HAS WRITTEN.

But you can make these changes.

The secret is to do your very best, incorporate them when and where, and how you can, and give yourself some grace if you don’t manage to make your writing session every day you’d like to. If you are not as positive as you want to be. If some days you really can’t envision your BOOK as a done deal.

The real secret is that every day is a new opportunity to do the next thing, with positivity and grace and motivation. That you didn’t manage it today doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t tomorrow. Accept that some days it just won’t or didn’t happen…then get right back on the path to change without criticizing yourself and without losing your focus. It is okay. Really it is – happens in the business world all the time – missed work sessions, missed deadlines, things that don’t work like they were planned to – and things still get done. No one throws their hands up and just refuses to finish the project. They accept the part that didn’t go as expected, then get right back to it.

You can too.

And you will.

This is an edited version of a chapter out of  Deb’s book, “21 Day Challenge: The Anti-procrastination Workbook for Writers”, published in April of this year, available here in paperback. Also available in eBook, but without the workbook pages.


Deb Courtney holds a degree in Fiction from the University of South Florida, where she was a Saunders Scholar in Fiction. She has had numerous short stories published and has worked as a freelance journalist, creativity coach, and freelance editor. Her background also includes more than 20 years in Technical Project Management.
Deb hosts the popular “Write Drunk, Edit Sober” improv writing series monthly online, and her debut book, “21 Day Challenge: The Anti-procrastination Workbook for Writers” was released in April 2023. She is Immediate Past President of Pikes Peak Writers, a non-profit in Colorado Springs, CO.

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