SEQ 3DC Pt 2- Three Legged Stool

Writing Is A Three-Legged Stool

Does this sound familiar?

You decide that you’re going to take your writing seriously. You set an intention — perhaps you’ll get up and write every morning, perhaps you set a daily word-count goal, or you decide this is the year you finish your novel. You’re really going to do it!

And then life happens and you wake up a couple of months later and… your writing life is pretty much where it was before: sporadic outbursts of creativity and not nearly as much progress as you had hoped.

Julie Duffy,


You’re not alone. And you’re not doomed to fail because of some personality flaw unique to you.

You’re human.

And luckily for us, human behavioral researchers have discovered some patterns that can help us.


When trying to achieve an outcome, we tend to rely on the motivation that comes from the emotion of imagining ourselves at finish line. It feels great to picture ourselves holding that published book, on a stage doing a reading, answering fan mail…these high emotions spur us to make commitments to our writing.

We think that, with the right motivation, we can make it stick this time.

It makes intuitive sense.

And it almost never works.


Researchers have shown that emotions are fleeting and the motivation they conjure evaporates like morning mist in the harsh light of day.

But there is something you can do that will change this boom and bust cycle in your creative life.

While motivation alone is not enough to help us change our behavior, when we combine it with the right actions and reminders we can easily build the good habits we need to make massive progress on our journey towards becoming prolific, fulfilled writers.

And I’ll be back in your mailbox soon to talk about exactly how you do that.

(Me? It happened when I finally realized that I was going to keep coming back to writing, over and over, no matter how much I tried to tell myself I didn’t need it, so I might as well figure out a way to incorporate it into my life!)

Keep writing,

Julie (signed)


What trips you up, when you try to commit to your writing?
Leave a comment and let’s talk!

11 thoughts on “SEQ 3DC Pt 2- Three Legged Stool

  1. Sometimes when I can’t think of anything to write about I either journal or use the answers from completed crossword puzzles to concoct stories. Unfortunately, more often than not the stories don’t seem to flow.

    1. Hi Brian,
      I hear you.
      Part of the problem with stories not flowing is that we have a premise but not a full story idea. (Not your fault. A lot of the writing prompts out there encourage us to think that a spark is enough, when really we need to develop it). That’s why I developed the Short Story Framework, that you’ve probably already downloaded. That tool alone can help the story flow, because it encourages you to think more deeply about why a character would care about the interesting idea you came up with…and it’s characters who make readers care about the story.

      But also: remember that it’s OK for the story not to flow. Writing is hard. Especially the middle bit. The only way for us to get to ‘the end’ is to be willing to put up with the messy middle and push through. (This is where having a community of writers around you comes in helpful. It’s one thing to KNOW that, it’s quite another to watch other people grappling with this…and triumphing over it. Very inspiring).

      Glad you’re here. Why not come over to the SWAGr post and discover our community? (

  2. I believe in the power of finishing things. I’m able to finish a 100-word story, and like it afterward. I’ve written fiction fragments of 25,000 or 50,000 words, but they give me no satisfaction. They are fragments, not any kind of whole. For me, the problem is specifically writing fiction. I’ve written many essays, blog posts, and other non-fiction works. They helped me get and keep jobs. I taught that kind of writing at major American universities. But for over 50 years, I’ve wanted to write made-up stories, the waking-dreams that people get lost in. Admittedly, it’s hard to get lost in 100 words, but it’s enough space to evoke an emotion, suggest a character, or raise one good question. A haiku can do it, so why not a very short story?

    I learned the same lesson as a hobbyist computer game-maker. I was trying to create games that a lone developer could make in a month or six months, or a year, and never finishing them. Then I asked myself, “I wonder what I can do today?” Not much, usually, but you can produce the equivalent of a micro-story.

    A writer or game-developer doesn’t have to stick to very short forms, but if they start floundering and losing heart with a longer project, they at least know what will work.

    1. Finishing is key. Grab a copy of the Short Story Framework and use it to help rein in the middle of your stories (really common problem in short stories: the middle wanders of and tries to get you to turn it into another novel!)

  3. I know what you mean for me it’s a pair of gauntlets I knitted myself. I put them on & suddenly the world disappears & time stops. The rush I feel is addictive!

  4. It’s not sitting down and writing that’s the issue. I write almost every day. The problem? They aren’t stories. I write about life and struggles and things I’m looking forward to, and I pray. I’m a journaler. I absolutely love to read novels but I’m not a enough of a detailed person to put all the descriptions in like most authors do. I’m an observer of people not nature, not surroundings. I enjoy all that but I couldn’t describe it. One of my friends who is always encouraging me yo keep writing said to me the other day, that what she likes is that I know what to say when no one else does. I don’t know how one would ever make a book out of that. I tried to convince myself to write my memoir but as I began to pen it out I realized that I’m not a memoir reader so why would I write one? I’m an extrovert who loves to read and write out all the trillions of thoughts going through my head. So, there it is. What do I do with this?

    1. I’m so glad you asked this question.

      There is a strong cultural message (especially in the west) that we ought to always be trying to “do something” withour writing.

      Isn’t it possible that an important part of your life might be a creative practice that gives you joy, makes you a better, more sensitive friend, and gives you a ritual that makes your days better?

      I know a retiree who is learning several different languages, along with Celtic fiddle and whose daily routine involves a little of each, along with her writing. Her friends, too, urge her to “do something” with her writing and yet none of them seem to feel she has to do anything with her languages or music study!

      If you want to do something different with your snippets and character studies then I can help you figure out how to turn them into stories or essays, but I would encourage you to consider nurturing and valuing your writing practice just as it is.

      If you want a community of other writers to hang out with, (so you don’t forget that you’re not actually an oddball!) I can help with that too 😉

      I hereby give you permission to “do nothing” with your writing except what you are doing now: becoming a more awesome human because you are doing something that matters to you, and that you excel at.

  5. I have writing cardigans. One day I noticed how, when I slip one on it triggers something within me that makes me want to sit with a hot cup of coffee and create something wonderful. My family knows, too, when a cardigan is on, be prepared to heat up leftovers for dinner!

  6. I read! Reading others’ words, being invited into their ideas indpires me. (And that doesn’t mean hours trolling Facebook 😉 although it’s not completely excluded)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.