When you’re a writer, there’s nothing that makes you happier than diving into a new story or poem, and starting to explore a new literary world. But sometimes, it can be challenging to focus on your writing, especially if you’re in a busy time in your life or you’re really stressed out. Other times, you end up with a writer’s block you can seem to shake off. But lately, you’ve really wanted to get back into writing, and you want to commit to being a writer. You know that you have it in you, but you need the right strategies to make it a big part of your life again. It’s like that with any art. No matter when inspiration hits, discipline is hugely important.
Luckily, there are some great strategies out there you can use. It’s all about making a habit out of writing, and learning what to do when you’re stuck. Here’s how.
Get inspired by reading
What first makes any writer fall in love with writing is the writing of other writers. Whether you fell in love with the complex worlds of Ursula K. Le Guin, or with the youthful, irreverent voice J.D. Salinger uses in The Catcher in the Rye, that’s what got you started writing. And if you want to start writing again, this is a great way to get inspired. Put yourself in the shoes of that young writer who first fell in love with the craft. Read your favorite authors, and create writing exercises based on what they do. Whether you’re focusing on mastering a great opening, powerful voice, or dialogue that feels realistic, these authors have something to teach you.
Once you’ve read your favorite writers, read up on craft. Get a book like The Art of Fiction at your local bookstore, and challenge yourself with new lessons. Considering that writers and authors made a median pay of over $60,000 a year in 2017, it’s worth putting in the work. Once you’ve started a few different efforts, you’ll eventually feel like you have something you could spend time working on. Which leads us to our next step…
Start a writing ritual and schedule
Now that you’re feeling inspired, it’s time to create a schedule that will keep you writing–even on days when you wake up feeling like you can’t write anything at all. For some writers, this means spending hours at an art gallery looking for visual inspiration before sitting down at a nearby cafe. For others, this means going for a run listening to a Spotify playlist that will inspire them. Whatever your ritual, practice a few strategies until you find what works for you.
Additionally, it’s important to schedule actual blocks of writing in your calendar. Otherwise, it’s too easy to lose track and end up writing only a couple times a month. If you’re a student, wake up before your classes; if you’re working, see if you can fit writing into your commute on the subway. Even if it’s only half an hour a day, or a couple paragraphs, writing adds up over time. Graham Greene wrote only 500 words a day, 5 days a week, which led him to write many novels in different genres. It wasn’t much time each day, but it added up to a great legacy.
If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up over it. Too many artists already struggle with self-loathing, and it’s better to celebrate the work you’ve done and keep going than waste time worrying or being anxious. Instead, focus on doing well. J.K. Rowling had an estimated net worth of $805.9 million in 2016, and was still working hard without success in her thirties.
Make yourself accountable with others
Writing is, by nature, a solitary act. But that doesn’t mean you have to do it alone. Once you’ve established a ritual and schedule, a great way to stay accountable is by getting a writing partner. If you both write together in the same place, you’re encouraging each other to get the work done–kind of like gym buddies working out on treadmills next to each other.
Additionally, it’s a smart idea to join a writing class. In addition to providing you with regular submission deadlines–most short story course teachers expect students to submit about three times–you’ll also get critiques with each piece. You’ll learn what you need to work on, and become a better writer than you would if you were learning these lessons alone. This speeds up the process of improving, the same way that eChecks speed up the process of businesses paying their employees.
Dean Koontz has a net worth of $145 million, and you can bet he’s spent a lot of time getting his work reviewed by colleagues and editors.
These are some of the best ways to commit to your creative writing, and finally become the writer you want to be. Are there other strategies you use to stay motivated?