September 3, 2018

The Performance Cycle

By DiAnn Mills

The performance cycle can destroy a writer’s passion for communicating through the written word. We writers create in solitary environments. Granted social media invites community from the comforts of our devices, but too often writers fall into the pit of their self-worth dependent on what’s accomplished. Career-focused agenda consumes far too many writers: social media numbers, published articles and books, high-ranking blog posts, invitations to teach and speak, and the list goes on.

The problems fall deep within our views of self-worth. We have goals and expectations, and that’s grand! No one can be successful without developing a sound plan to work smart and strong. But lofty heights do not define who we are.

God will not one day ask me how many books I’ve written or sold in order to enter heaven. He doesn’t keep track of my successes; He keeps track of my obedience.

How to know if we are driven by performance:

1.          We are compulsive in reading reviews and attempt to please all readers.
2.          We are constantly checking our sales and belittling ourselves when the numbers aren’t increasing.
3.          We are driven by the bestseller lists.
4.          We ignore our families and friends.
5.          We establish goals that aren’t realistic.
6.          We experience constant headaches or stomach issues.
7.          We neglect good health and exercise.
8.          We obsess about getting the writing and social media done, done, and done.
9.          We know we aren’t working efficiently or effectively but we can’t seem to stop.
10.      We crave positive feedback and never feel good enough.
11.      We compare our careers with others.
12.      We feel guilty about our miserable lack of progress. There must be something more we can do.
13.      We live with stress.

Once we realize we have a problem, what can we do to eliminate the negative traits and turn them into positive attributes? The following are ways to stop pedaling on the performance cycle treadmill:

1.          Make a list of all the tasks we do well.
2.          Schedule time to rest and relax.
3.          Establish realistic goals that fit our personality.
4.          Understand our strengths and weaknesses. Strive to improve but don’t obsess. 
5.          Reward ourselves for a job well done.
6.          Turn off the computer and refuse to work 16 hours a day.
7.          Accept who we are as writers. No one works exactly the same way, at the same time, or achieves success in the same manner.
8.          Define who we are by our faith in God, not by the world’s definition.
9.          Give back to others either in a writer’s group or mentoring.
10.      Take responsibility for our actions and learn from them.
11.      Embrace challenges as a positive, not a personal war.

Although I strive to incorporate these items into my daily routine, I struggle too. We’re human. When we find ourselves slipping into old habits, we shake off the problem areas and try again.

“There is always the danger that we may just do the work for the sake of the work. This is where the respect and the love and the devotion come in - that we do it to God, to Christ, and that's why we try to do it as beautifully as possible.” Mother Teresa

Writers are purpose-filled people who want to share carefully formed words with the world in hopes of making it a better place to live. But don’t let the accolades or lack of rule your life.
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. Her latest book, Burden of Proof has released. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Firewall, the first book in her Houston: FBI series, was listed by Library Journal as one of the best Christian Fiction books of 2014. DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Mountainside Marketing Conference with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on Facebook:, Twitter: or any of the social media platforms listed

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