One of the common pieces of advice given to those interested in becoming a writer is that they should write every single day. In fact, many famous writers give that advice themselves when they are asked. Why is this the case? First, writing, much like photography, is one of those vocations that many people claim they want to pursue, but in reality are not willing to do the work to move beyond the level of hobbyist. Telling people that they must write every day is akin to telling them that if they are really serious about becoming a writer, they will treat it like a job, and not just something they do when the words come easily. Then, there is the notion that daily repetition of a certain task will make it a habit. There’s value in the first piece of advice. If you want to become a writer, you should be committed, and you should understand writing must be done even when you aren’t inspired. The second, not so much.
Forcing yourself to write every day isn’t a realistic goal, and is something you will ultimately fail to do. Once that failure comes, it becomes easier and easier to procrastinate. If you do keep up a daily writing pace for a long period of time, it is just as likely that you will eventually crash and burn as it is you will develop a daily habit. If you want to become a successful writer, here are some steps you can take that do not involve forcing yourself to write every day.
Don’t Write Every Day. Be a Writer Every Day
There is much more to being a writer than the act of putting words to paper. Writers must communicate with publishers, editors, and clients. They research, organize writing projects, and come up with new ideas for future projects. They read. They keep their vocabularies sharp, and they stay on top of current events. They edit and they proofread. You don’t need to write every day, but you should do some things every day that contribute to your overall goal of becoming a successful writer. By doing this, you will achieve the what is intended by the advice to write every day without burning yourself out.
Convince Yourself that Writing is What You Really Want to do
Sure, your conscious brain is on board with becoming a writer, but what about the rest of your mind. For most people, simply deciding they are going to become a writer isn’t enough to get the brain on board. There are still parts of your mind that doubt that this is an achievable goal for you, or that doubt you will follow through. There may even be parts of your subconscious that are panicked at the idea of you pursuing a career that isn’t known for its stability. Fortunately, there are things you can do to convince your brain to get with the program.
First, begin with writing your goals on paper. There is something almost magical that happens when you take a general desire (I want to be a writer) out of your head and put it down on paper in the form of goals you wish to accomplish. Perhaps it is because you are adding the ‘hows’ and the ‘whens’ to the ‘what’. Here is what a sample list might look like:
- Complete three short stories in the next six weeks and submit them to online literary magazines
- Research which online magazines take short story submissions
- Find an editor to help me polish up my stories before I send them off
- Find and attend a writer’s workshop in the next three months
- Find workshops that are within driving distance of me
- As an alternative look for online workshops
- Do any preliminary work required before attending the workshop
- Create a WordPress website with a portfolio of writing samples within the next month
- Ask a friend who blogs with help getting started
- Go through old documents to find the best writing samples
- Write content for home page, a brief bio, and other relevant information for the website
Once your list is complete, and you have determined the actions you need to take, you can begin working through your list of goals. Remember that each step you complete successfully helps to convince your brain that your plan is working. Once that is accomplished, you are well on your way.
Make the Act of Writing as Easy as Possible
One of the most challenging things about becoming a writer is dealing with roadblocks. Some of these are created by others. These are the distractions, demands for our time, and interruptions that come from external sources, often the people we live with. Then there are the roadblocks we create ourselves. We procrastinate, allow ourselves to be distracted by social media or other temptations, or we quit writing too soon, because we aren’t feeling inspired enough. If you want to become a writer, you have to limit roadblocks and you have to create ways to make it easier to write. Here are a few things to try:
- Carve out time for writing every day, even if you don’t use it for writing
- Download an app such as Evernote that makes it easy to write down ideas that come to you when you aren’t at your desk
- When you are writing, commit to only visiting websites that are relevant to your work (use a website blocking app if you must)
- Create a comfortable space to write
- Communicate that you are not to be disrupted when you write and follow through with that
About the author: Judy Thompson is a blogger and a professional writer. She shares her expertise to help other freelance writers to pursue their careers. Also, she consults students with their writing issue at Smart Paper Help. You can find more about Judy on Facebook and Twitter.