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Four (4) key challenges we all face when it comes to "writing"

Image credit: Matt Crump

Image credit: Matt Crump

So. A few weeks ago, I asked my A1 Instagram followers the following question: 

"When it comes to writing -- whether it be for a blog, an essay, report, or for your business or social media channels, what do YOU most struggle with?"

All of you raised so many #onpoint factors which I am sure ALL of us bloggers, writers, and in particular, business owners can relate to. So what do us, as business owners struggle most with? 

1. Time

Ah yes. Let's face it, we've all used the phrase "there aren't even hours in a day!" to describe a common conception - - that if we had more time, we would be all be more productive. But it doesn't always work like that, and the usual culprit for this feeling isn't that there is a lack of time, but rather a mentality that either stifles productivity or lead to misconception. 

The key to having more time, is by doing less, and I do this by following these two steps: (1) Define a to-do list and (2) define a not-to-do list, and stick with it. 

I budget my time everyday by keeping a diary. I write down a list of things I want to accomplish each day (not just maybes, they're realistic goals I am going to fly kick today!), and as I do them, I tick it off. It brings a SENSATIONAL feeling of satisfaction that screams 'hell yeah what what what, who's a rockstar'. I also ensure I remove all distractions, Facebook, Instagram, silence your emails if you have to for an hour or two.  The world's not going to miss you that much (don't worry, they probably won't even notice). 

There is a LOT that you can get done if you just truly and wholly, put your mind to it. Two hours of solid work > 8 hours of floppy work, any day. 

If you feel like you are losing valuable time owing to being flooded with all your administrative tasks, on the other hand, then consider getting a VA (Virtual Assistant) - they cost $6/hr (from North America on www.elance.com) or as little as $20-50 per month (from India on www.tryasksunday.com). 

2. Writer's amnesia or the Writer's block

Have you just sat there sometimes, with a major assignment, or a project ahead of you... but just. nothing. comes. out? Yeah. Ugh. Me too. Now, each writer is different in how we deal with the writer's block, but THIS is how I deal with mine. 

One way is by completely breaking it down. Remember how in kindie, we would have to fill in the blanks for silly questions like: "My favourite colour is __________"; "When I grow up I want to do _________, because _________".

I use the exact same analogy, for when I have the writer's block, especially when it comes to how I am going to structure the damn thing. I look at it like a essay and chop it up into categories and sub-categories (this is my inner law student coming out) and have a detailed outline as to what you want to cover, in bullet points. Take a few moments to do something else.. refresh your mind, then come back to it. 

If absolutely nothing is getting juiced out still then I would give the noodle in the head a complete break. I listen to music (look up "Writer's block or unblock on Spotify"), I find old school piano or classical music helps a lot. Sometimes, changing environment helps too. When I am hydrated, rejuvenated, I then again (this is important, so I will say it again) unplug from everything social media (including emails) and set myself a realistic time goal, eg. 90 minutes of PURE writing time, and nut it out. 

3. Too many drafts, can't finish a project

Starting new projects is like falling in luuuuurrve (ohh la la). We get excited, and are infused with a motivator of novelty. But then after some time, whatever it is, it turns into something a lot harder than expected, or longer to complete, and then we become stuck, and come to a complete halt. We start putting off the "getting back into it", until we feel like we are "back on a roll". 

One thing I have found helpful when I am in this type of situation, is taking a moment to figure out why I stopped... and what I need to do to keep moving forward.

For me, this is (the why) because of the fear of missing critical information in a piece of writing, so (what I need to do) I set myself milestone goals/a timeline. When I hit a brick wall, I realise that it is because majority of the time, I am trying to be a perfectionist, or worrying that what comes next is not going to be "excellent enough".

Getting my head completely into the project and understanding my challenges, then making a time line/set of steps I need to take towards my goal adds structure to my plan. Eg. So many words in a day, so much time dedicated per week dedicated to X.

Remember... It's not "successes"  that we care about here, but the efforts you can realistically make. 

4. Juicing it all for the clients, leaving no time for your own biz/biz projects 

Another challenge that one of my followers mentioned, was the fact that that they felt they were juicing ALL of their creative juices for their clients, leaving little to nothing for their own businesses :(. Particularly for the freelancers, or business owners reading, whilst working for yourself is probably the most rewarding thing you can do, it is definitely also, the most challenging.

When you have a client, you dedicate your time and energy to go above and beyond for them. You ensure they are 150% happy with what you have delivered, because come on, #letsbehonest, you want them to be happy and come back! However, as the jobs start to pick up traction and begin to pile (YAY), you get busy, and ALL your time is dedicated to peddling and providing the goods for your clients. Soon, those weekly helpful blogs you used to publish? or the daily Instagram posts on your Insta-account? or meeting your set time-frame of replying to your clients within 24 hours? They start to drop off like flies with a spray of Moretein. (NAY)

So. I have both good and bad news for you. Good? You/your service/your product in demand my friend. Gimme a Mexican wave, because you are KILLING it. Bad? Brace yourself, because if this keeps on going at the rate it is, you are going to feel super duper overwhelmed. When you get to this stage, it means one thing. You are trying to do too much, on your own. Looking after your biz, its projects, and the way it is going to evolve with our economy is critical to its success. (Don't make the same mistake that Masters did)

I therefore suggest that you take a breather, and more importantly, ask for help. Asking for help is not a bad thing. We're only human, there is only so much you and I can do! In fact, take this as a success milestone in your business.

In regards to WHAT you would need to get help with.. only you know what you are good at, so for the other areas of your biz, outsource. Whether that's to find a VA as mentioned above, to sort out your mountains of emails, or getting a freelance social media manager to organise your social media channels (chat to us if you need a recommendation), or outsourcing your blogging to a creative superstar (*jumps up and down, hello hi!*).. remember to focus on your strengths, outsource your weaknesses, so you have more time to focus on what is important for your brainchild (your biz).