Writer, let's get serious for a moment.
I want you to embrace your writing dreams and get clear on the kind of writing life you truly want to have...and then get busy making it happen!
To help you with this, here are 7 ways you can fuel your writing life...
Write your writing goals down and keep them close, perhaps in a journal or your writer’s notebook. Read them over from time to time, to remind yourself of what your goals are AND why they are important to you.
Here’s a format I love for writing goals…
Goal: To achieve [specific result] by [date/deadline].
Why: A short sentence about why it matters to me.
Occasionally, writers will tell me that they would make more progress in their writing life if only it wasn’t for their loved ones. #uhoh
Whether it’s kids interrupting a writing session, or an excess of care responsibilities, or just what I think of as OPP (the opinions of other people!), it can be hard to get much writing done when we feel like we have to fight our people in order to do it.
I’ve written here about negotiating boundaries with loved ones and you may find that article helpful, especially if you’re routinely finding that you can’t get time in a busy household to dedicate to your writing dreams.
My best advice is for you to get clear on your writing dreams and what you need to make them a reality, and then have that discussion with your loved ones and directly ask for their support.
As writers who are serious about our craft, our second job after writing is reading.
We read for motivation and encouragement -- to know that others have already come this way and marked out a path we can follow.
We read for inspiration -- to be moved and exhilarated by story, language and what another person’s imagination has made possible. We read to understand new possibilities and generate new ideas.
We read to be part of the conversation -- to know what others in our chosen genre are currently doing and so to understand where our own work fits in the ongoing literary conversation.
We read to problem-solve -- to see how other writers have resolved some of the technical difficulties we ourselves are experiencing.
Of course, we also read for pleasure. But as writers, when we read we’re paying attention to the craft aspects of what we’re reading and fueling our own writing dreams in the process.
While no one else can write your books for you, you really don’t have to go it alone. You can seek out or build a thriving community of writers just like you who can support you during difficult times and celebrate with you when you reach a milestone in your writing life.
Here are some ways to build community:
So many writers don’t give themselves permission to invest in their writing dreams in a serious way. Sometimes that’s about self-doubt, or a question such as “who am I to draw on my family resources for something silly like this?”
This causes me heartache on behalf of any writer experiencing this. Your dreams deserve time, attention and, yes, financial support -- as much as anyone else.
We fund the kids’ soccer lessons without thinking that little Jimmy or Jane will ever make it to the Olympics, and we support our partners and spouses to realize their dreams as well.
Sometimes all we need is the time to write, and that may mean someone else taking on care responsibilities so we can have that time and focus.
But a rewarding writing life also includes taking advantage of learning opportunities and the kind of accountability and focus that typically only comes with some kind of formal program.
Whether it’s a 2-hour workshop at the local library, or a months-long mentoring process, we know invaluable these kinds of events and programs are for transforming our writing and sustaining our creative spirits.
In my experience, the writers who invest in themselves and their craft in this way are the ones who make the most progress in their writing lives.
And before anyone emails me about “not all people can afford, etc” -- know that there are often scholarships available and lots of free options online as well. There’s no excuse for not investing in yourself if you are truly determined to build the writing life of your dreams.
I love a good streak tracker, and you can track your progress via word count, page count, chapter or scene count...or individual poems, stories, essays, etc.
Perhaps the best way to track your progress is just to track writing sessions or time spent writing. This keeps the focus on process over product, and the product tends to take care of itself once we’re in the habit of writing consistently.
From all of the above, and your own experiences, make a plan now for how you’re going to fuel the kind of writing life you desire.
The world is not set up to foster art and creative expression. If you want a rich and rewarding writing life, YOU will have to the one who gets clear about precisely what you want it to look like and then plan for what it will take to make it happen. Your writing life is yours to design and yours to fuel.