The thing most writers say about how to become a writer is to write… Seems pretty obvious. But, in reality, it can be very difficult. Trying to establish a regular regimen and stick to it can be quite a challenge in today’s’ world with its myriad distractions and time wasters. The only way you will ever be a real writer is to make writing your main focus.
Which is why I’m failing.
The truth is I don’t really write every day, certainly not on my novel. I may do a little bit of social media writing (which I always try to treat as an actual writing assignment, focusing on my craft even then), but not any substantial or purposeful writing.
Really, I should be posting more blog posts as well, as the only way to stay relevant in the blog game is to post often and to interact with other bloggers. I tried that at first, it was nearly a full-time job in and of itself. Not to mention that I spent more time doing that than writing fiction, which is my focus.
At least I have managed to try and pick up some writing jobs on the side so at least I was getting paid for some of the stuff I write. But, overall, I’m still trying to shoehorn writing into my life alongside my day job and my side job as an improv teacher and performer.
I have managed to complete 45,000 (very rough) words on my novel, but I’m far from completing it. I was writing on it every day for about a month, but life and mental illness go in the way and slowed and eventually halted my progress.
It isn’t always the best writers who succeed in this business. It is those who are the most dedicated and willing to put in the time and effort. I’ve never been very good at that, especially considering writing is difficult for me due to the distractions and lack of mental focus. But, like many of you, I persist without exactly knowing why.
So, here is my novice writing advice to any of you out there who are struggling as I am: Don’t write every day.
It will wear you out. Instead, set aside just an hour or two a week that is dedicated only to writing. Start with that. For me, baby steps are essential, not because I’m not capable of the craft, but because I don’t develop habits and routines easily. In that hour or two a week. write with purpose and dedication. Turn off all distractions, lock the door, and settle in. Do that for a month, six months, a year. Hopefully, you can then tack on another hour here and there until you are writing steadily. That is my hope for myself as well.
My last piece of advice would be this: Forgive yourself when you fall short.
Inevitably, and without fail, I let myself and those around me down. I have come to expect that of myself, not because I want to, but because it is just in my nature. But, because some of it is beyond my control, I don’t linger on it. I accept that the action was my own, make amends, and move on.
The same is true of your writing. If something happens and throws you out of your routine, or you find that you can’t write that day, or perhaps you have other projects you want to focus on, that is okay. Forgive yourself for doing that, but also knowing that it hinders you on your path to becoming a writer. Just don’t give up.
Until next time, write on.