Why it’s Easy to Get Derailed (and How to Get Back on Track Again)

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had trouble finishing what I start. I would either simply get bored with what I was doing, or I would get distracted with something else. It just seemed like no matter how excited I was to start a project, it would inevitably become so tedious that I didn’t want to finish. Of course, there have been exceptions, but it has been true of most projects I have started.

I am generalizing, but for the purpose of this post, I’ll focus on writing.

In the 22+ years I’ve been writing, I have finished very few first drafts. And among those few drafts I’ve actually finished, none of them have made it to a complete second draft. I always come up with excuses why I haven’t finished those stories. For example, in the past…well, almost 10 years, I have been focusing almost exclusively on one particular story. I generally refer to it as “my agent story” but there’s more to it than just that. But anyway, I started writing it one way, and in the past 8+ years I have been rewriting the same story over and over as I get new ideas. So, in that case, things are a little different. I just need to figure out the main details and commit to them.

A lot of times, though, I get derailed for another reason. I try to explain it away as boredom or distraction, but what it really boils down to is mindset. When I start writing a book, I am determined to make time to work on it and to finish it. Then, after working on it for a while, my mindset changes. I let that determination slip, and soon I am giving place to compromise. Before long, a month has passed, and I’m still haven’t made significant headway with the book. Then, more often than not, it ends up falling by the wayside.

The key here is mindset.

If I don’t start my day determined to get things done, they most likely won’t get done. And it helps to be specific. I’ve also found that a task manager app helps. I have been using an iOS app called Extreme Agenda. I can schedule all of the things I need to do with that app, and it also lets me to check off the tasks I have finished. I set up a daily writing task, and for the past month and a half, I have been plugging away at it and checking off the days as I go.

But then I found myself slacking off again.

I finished Nanowrimo early, and I decided to let myself take a break. Well, it has now been a 10-day break. I keep thinking that I need to get back into the story so I can finish it, but it’s like I just keep coming up against a wall. It’s not that I’ve lost interest in the story, because I definitely have not, but for a few days I wasn’t sure what was going on.

I finally realized that the problem is with my mindset. I spent the whole month of October building up a daily writing habit, and with the habit, I was also creating a mindset. That mindset was to write every day, and usually I was aiming for 1,000+ words per day. After a while, it went up to 2,000 words per day. Then when Nanowrimo started, I was determined to win early, so my goal went up to 3,000 words per day. I actually kept up with that pretty consistently, and I averaged about 3,000 words per day. After I won, I felt like I needed to just keep writing every day because that had become my habit, but I allowed myself to take a break.

In other words, I told myself, “It’s okay if I don’t write today.”

The problem was that I started telling myself that every day. And now, 10 days later, it’s like I almost don’t want to get back into writing again. So, what I need to do first is change my mindset. I need to get back into the “I need to write every day” mode again. Once I commit to doing that, the writing will once again become a habit, and I will be back on track. I just have to make myself change my mindset, and everything else will fall back into place.

I also want to encourage anyone who is reading this to do the same. What have you been allowing yourself to slack off from doing? I’m pretty sure that everyone has at least one thing they’ve let slide.

You just need to change your mindset, and you will get back on track in no time.

To all of my readers who are writers, do you find yourself easily becoming derailed from your writing projects? Do you find it hard to finish what you started? What have you done to get yourself back on track? Do you agree that mindset has a big role to play in staying on track? Do you have any tips of your own to share with other writers who have also gotten off track? Please comment below!

Published by Rachel

Rachel McDermott wrote and illustrated her first story, titled The Cat and the Rat, at age 7. She has been writing ever since, and has dreamed of becoming a published author. Young Adult Science Fiction is her favorite genre to read and write, and she started writing Christian Young Adult Science Fiction after rededicating her life to Christ in 2009. She is currently in the editing stage of self-publishing her first book, The Crown Jewel.

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