Saturday, January 9, 2021

Choosing to be a Flexible Writer

by Beth K. Vogt @BethVogt

As 2020 wound down, I discovered a quote by motivational coach Tony Robbins: “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”

Rather than making a list of New Year’s resolutions, I prefer to choose One Word to focus on each year. But there are still specific personal, professional, and spiritual goals I pray about and plan for in the coming months that help me achieve my writing dreams.

However, after I’ve detailed my plans, I can often hold onto the what, the how, and the when with a clenched fist. 

Do me a favor: clench your fist and count to ten.

There’s a lot of tension in a clenched fist, isn’t there? 

The reality of tension in our lives directs us back to Robbins’s recommendation to be both committed and flexible. When we insist our goals only be achieved by following step A, then step B, then step C, we’re not magically guaranteeing success for ourselves – but we are guaranteeing stress. 

This year as we decide what we want to accomplish, let’s choose to be flexible how we’re going to make things happen. 

But how can we be flexible writers?

I’m so glad you asked! (I know, I know, I asked the question. But stay with me, okay?)

Here are three tips to foster mental flexibility:

  • 1. Read. This is easy, right? We’re told to read to be better writers, and yet sometimes in the pursuit of our publication dreams, we shove aside pleasure reading. Did you know reading can also can interrupt negative (think stressed-out) thought patterns? The next time you’re in a funk because life isn’t going the way you planned, take a break, pick up a book, and read! 
  • 2. Journal. Yes, writing cultivates mental flexibility. But I’m not talking about writing to meet your publishing deadline or to untangle the muddled middle of your Work in Progress (WIP). Think more stream of conscious writing. Write what comes to mind: dialogue or a poem or a memory – and don’t let your internal editor criticize what goes on the page. Consider ending on a positive note by saying what you’re thankful for.
  • 3. Exercise. We can be all about keeping our bottoms-in-our-chairs when we’re chasing a certain word count or when our muses are singing. But we also know pushing away from the computers and moving is good for us physically. Exercise also helps us stay adaptable mentally and emotionally as we destress by walking or running on the treadmill or participating in a Pilates class or lifting weights. 
There you have it: three ways to increase your mental flexibility. Which one will you try?


Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best often waits behind the doors marked “Never.” Having authored nine contemporary romance novels and novellas, The Best We’ve Been, the final book in Beth’s Thatcher Sisters Series with Tyndale House Publishers, releasers May 2020. Other books in the women’s fiction series include Things I Never Told You, which won the 2019 AWSA Award for Contemporary Novel of the Year, and Moments We Forget. Beth is a 2016 Christy Award winner, a 2016 ACFW Carol Award winner, and a 2015 RITA® finalist. An established magazine writer and former editor of the leadership magazine for MOPS International, Beth blogs for Learn How to Write a Novel and The Write Conversation and also enjoys speaking to writers group and mentoring other writers. Visit Beth at


  1. Beth,

    Thanks for these words of encouragement for every writer (including me). Flexibility is always important for our writing--and especially with a worldwide pandemic going on. Yet I find there are huge opportunities if we are open to them for our writing and keep moving forward.

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

  2. Good morning, Terry. It's always great to connect with you about the writing life. Here's to not missing any of the opportunities God has for us in 2021!

  3. Replies
    1. I'm thankful you were encouraged, Melissa. Here's to a flexible 2021 -- and forward motion!

  4. Excellent advice for every writer. Thanks for sharing, Beth.

  5. Hi, Crystal: I hope one of these suggestions works for you -- or maybe you have your own ideas for flexibility?

  6. Plan, but be flexible! Good advice!