The writing life can be hard, and like most other things that are worthwhile, occasionally you’ll want to quit. I’ve been there myself a few times.
But often what makes the writing life hard boils down to three things: finding time to write, knowing what to write about, and what to make a priority in your writing life. This week, as I was thinking about these three things, I came across several resources that might help. So, if you’re at that point where you aren’t sure where to go next in your writing life, this post is for you. Or, if you are tooling along just fine at the moment, make sure you bookmark this one. Because eventually you’ll probably need it.
Finding Time to Write
Struggling to find time to write? Author Stephanie Gayle says you must learn to write anywhere in her Dead Darlings post, “Stop Being So Precious, Start Being a Writer.”
“This, then, is one of the secrets of writing I hadn’t yet learned, years ago. Time is fleeting and precious and there are few chosen ‘moments’ that life hands you and says, ‘Write now,'” Gayle writes. “More often you wrest such moments while watching a child’s soccer game with one eye, or in the fifteen minutes between when your teeth are brushed and when you leave the house for the job that occupies the majority of your waking time. Get good at seeing such moments as opportunities.”
If you are a parent or if your life is spent caring for others in some other capacity, you might also enjoy Ali Luke’s post over at The Write Life called, “6 Ways to Make Time to Write: A Guide for Busy Parents.” Her advice is particularly for those who live with lots of other people, particularly little people, in the house, because as she says, “A lot of the great advice I’ve come across on things like procrastination or time management seems to be aimed at twenty-somethings with no kids.”
What to Write About
My friend Ann Kroeker is the queen of helping you find things to write about. In a recent podcast call “Need Writing Ideas? Take Inventory of Your Life!” she offered several practical suggestions for culling writing ideas from you own life.
“This was a revelation, and it has served me well. My world and the way I experience and process it serves as fodder for my next writing projects,” Ann says. “That’s what I want you to discover, too. Someone, somewhere, is going to be delighted to read about your world and the way you experience and process it.”
Plus, Ann currently has an inexpensive, subscription-based writing prompt program that will deliver a new writing prompt to your inbox every week for a year. She offered me a complimentary subscription so I could try it out, and though I was free to provide any opinion or none at all, I have to say that the prompts are fantastic. Ann sets each one up with a bit of background, explanation, or story, and then challenges the participant to write on a topic. Check it out if you are struggling with what to write about.
I probably struggle with this one the most. I don’t always know what aspect of my writing to prioritize when. Two articles I read recently might shed some light on this.
First, Mick Silva begins a blog series on the difference in priorities between the writing and the editing processes.
“Too often, new writers conflate writing and editing as one task or at least as closely related tasks, and miss the fundamental difference between them,” Silva writes. “Where writing is necessarily an exercise in listening exclusively to the inspiration in your own heart, the priority when editing is serving the reader. One focuses on what the writer feels, wants, and needs, the other focuses on what the reader feels, wants, and needs.”
From another angle, a recent article from The Write Life, “Is Your Personality a Match for One of These Writing Careers?” unpacks the different kinds of writing that might appeal to different personality types, or at least to the different ways your personality manifests itself throughout a day or week.
Author Amanda Wilks talks about the many opportunities that are available for writers today, but how the many options can be paralyzing to some. “The writing market is still difficult, but it’s more diverse and there are so many branches available for writers that all you have to do is pick one,” she writes. “And that’s the tough part: Finding what you like and what suits you in a way that doesn’t compromise who you are.”
She then talks about which writing opportunities might be best for The Creative Loner, The Charismatic Extrovert, The Pondering Genius, The Diligent Researcher, and The Explosive Factotum.
Yes, the writing life can be hard, and sometimes it’s tempting to just give up. But I’d invite you to reconsider by trying some of these tactics for creating more time to write, developing new ideas, and honing in on your writing priorities.