This is what used to happen every time I started a new writing project:

I'd be super passionate and excited, and even though I was ready to go, I would hear this tiny nagging voice in the back of my mind that would always remind me of my shortcomings from the LAST project I started. How much time I wasted, and all the things I could have done better if I'd organised my time, my outline or my mindset more efficiently.

So I'd promise myself that this time it'd be different, and that everything would work itself perfectly this time, only to fall back into the exact same patterns over and over again - until I figured out these five simple rules. And I can't tell you enough how setting down these simple foundations saved me from so many problems further down the road.

(ALSO, before anyone mentions this, I am very aware I wrote a post recently about there being no rules in writing (heh), but this is about project management, not the actual writing. Okay thanks, I love you.)

1) Give your project a deadline (instead of letting it drag on for eternity...)

Deadlines are always fun (when you set them yourself at least!) but to break your procrastination habit, it's essential. Why? Because discipline is freedom.

Deadlines helps you remember that time is precious, not to be wasted, and ticking away at every moment. 

The situation you're in today will never ever be exactly the same again. Things change and people change every single day. Your dreams, your health, your opportunities - all of that can change, for better or worse, at any time. No matter what you do, a situation will never be completely perfect, so stop waiting for perfect before you put a date or a deadline on your dreams.

2) Give it your full 100% effort (no half-assing it)

It's always scary to put your all into anything because there's always the opportunity that you might fail, and it will be awful. Or that the work won't turn out as brilliant as you imagined it would.

So you think to yourself: If I don't put in my full effort, I will never have to experience that failure. This, of course, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and creates the failure anyway.

There's nothing that can take away that potential risk of something failing, but if you're not working to the best of your ability, you'll have no one else to blame but yourself if it does. And worse, you'll always be wondering what might have happened if you had just put in that full effort. So don't do that to yourself! Give it your all and don't worry too much about the outcome.

3) Take more breaks (instead of burning out all the time)

There are too many choices to make! Too many decisions! It's so hard to keep up! I don't know what to do first! Sound like you? That's okay. All you've got to do is step back and take a break. This might sound counter-productive, but actually it stops you from becoming too overwhelmed and prevents burnout.

Go do something completely unrelated to writing, like taking a walk to get some fresh air. Eventually, you'll feel the touch of inspiration - the urge to get started again, and when that happens, attack with full force. No matter how much you think you'll remember to do it later, the excitement you felt in that first moment can never be recovered if wasted. Go with it!

4) Call the shots in your writing life (instead of praying for miracles)

Your life isn't on a set path leading to happiness and success without your effort, like in the movies. You have everything within yourself to become the person you want to be, but you can't sit and wait for it.

Show up for your life, take responsibility for your actions and remember that your whole success depends on you, how hard you work and the choices you make. That might be scary to think about, but it's better than trying to leave your success in the hands of other people.

5) Write what excites you (instead of what you think is popular.)

If you ever start directing your writing life towards what's "traditional", "normal" or "trending", pause and reflect.

As a creative, you need to avoid these words like the plague. You should always be taking risks with your creativity, and operating under the idea that nothing is impossible because that's where great things happen. 

You can't limit your dreams based on only what you consider possible, or only on what's been done before. If you did, you'd never stretch yourself as an individual, you'd never grow, and you'd always end up compromising in your life. Also, you'd start to hate writing because it wouldn't stir your soul and wouldn't keep you invested in your writing routine. 

Too many people in the world are trying to be average and ordinary in this world already, there's no need to add to the crowd.

Stephanie Lennox is an award-winning author, keynote speaker, holistic writing coach and wellness advocate. She’s also the founder of The Authorship Program®, a 12-week immersive experience that helps writers conquer fear in their creative lives. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Please share this post: