Once upon a time I was a full time writer. Now I work for a corporation, with a salary. I once read all the right blogs, knew people in the industry, listened to conference workshops and treated writing like I’d landed my dream job. Now, I no longer recognize the names in Publishers Marketplace, in the RWR or even the New York Times bestsellers.
A lot of things caused the change but mostly it comes down to a paycheck. I wasn’t making money as a writer – I sold after I reentered the workforce – and my husband took a hefty pay cut after being unemployed for a while during the recession. I made the right decision for my family and the choices since then have been guided by the same purpose. I’ve gone back to school and finished my bachelor’s degree, sold my first novel and developed new connections.
But I miss writing. Ache for it. At first I tried to maintain the same level of immersion but I realized that the time I spent volunteering and reading articles/blogs/books, could be spent writing. I cut back and reorganized and tried again to pull writing back onto my list of priorities. I sold a few pieces and yet life kept happening. Each time I’d set a goal, I’d feel guilty for not meeting it. My husband says its latent rebellion for all those repressed-good-girl years. I’m too ornery to concede the point.
A few weeks ago a fellow writer spoke about her change in focus. Initially she’d started writing to bring in a second income thinking, like many of us, that this process would be easy and lucrative. Turns out its hard and addictive. Her heartfelt words made me realize that I could change why and how I wrote. It doesn’t have to be my picture perfect dream job. I get to decide what it will be. Now to keep this from being a total therapy post, here are some tips you can try – just like me – to get back into a writing habit after being away from it.
- Remember Why You Write – What does it do for you? Why that genre, character or timeline? Revisit the kind rejection letters, the positive feedback from critique partners and positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Journal about all the positives so when the negatives rear their ugly heads you’ll have ammunition.
- Unplug – Set aside those distractions like Facebook, your favorite television shows and daily worries. Some people journal to brain purge before writing. If you’re struggling with leaving those chores for later, try assigning them to another family member.
- Schedule the Time – Even if it’s you just shutting the door of your office after telling the family you’re busy. The 15 minutes before you fall asleep, pecking away at the alpha smart. At work, during your breaks or lunch. Figure out when writing will fit into your life or schedule life around writing.
- Set Goals – Whether it is daily word count goals or successful blocks of time, the studies show that goals work if they are measurable and you’re held accountable for those goals. Write them down, get someone else to police and motivate you. I’ll be avoiding this step like the plague.
Here are some suggestions from my friends and family on Facebook.
Janis McCurry Find a story you're passionate about. Not a maybe, an "oh, yeah, baby!"
Tony Balukoff Start with crayon then work your way up to pencil and pen. When you feel ready, go with a sharpie.
Nancy Zuffrea Go inside a mall and people watch.
Diane Adams Only one way to do it. Write. Also the hardest. Why is it always that way?
Megan Justice Ritual helps. Spend fifteen minutes doing something else. Doesn't matter what so long as it's not writing. Then write for an hour. Or until your mojo is gone, whichever is longer. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Char Kaufman Sit down and quietly listen to the void.
Steph Bochenek Hi, Amberly. I time write, maybe fifteen minutes at a time and that helps.
Bill Park "Remember, a writer writes" - Billy Crystal, Throw Mama From the Train
Which brings us to the final tip.
|The Siblings aka Support System 1.0|
- Find Support – A writing group, critique partner, family or friends. They want to see you succeed. They’re proud of your accomplishments and want you to be happy. Let them support you through the trials and the triumphs.