I spend a lot of time with writers and authors. And one of the biggest differences I see between a pro author who has published books and an amateur or hobbyist writer who dreams of being published is what their writing lives look like.
A pro author’s writing life sets them up for success. They have habits and commitment and systems for getting shit done. And they do what it takes no matter what.
Whereas an amateur writer’s writing life is actually sabotaging them. Often they make excuses and let life chaos and other nonsense stop them from doing the work.
The truth is you can shift your writing life SO quickly if you just set yourself up for success. Here are 5 ways to do that:
1. Acknowledge and Accept Where You Are
Before you can make changes–real changes that stick–you need to accept where you are right now. And accept it without judgement or giving yourself a hard time.
The thing I often find is that writers get so caught up in NOT doing the writing and not being consistent. They’ll place blame and feel guilty and worry that they’ll never achieve their goals.
And all that does is bring on more of the same.
But when you accept where you are and don’t judge it or make a big deal about it, you’re in a much better position to make changes. Say it with me now…”up until now I haven’t taken my writing seriously but from this day forward that all changes.”
2. Figure Out What Matters to You
This is super important. You have to make sure you’re focusing on and doing the writing that you actually care about and that matters to you.
I know that may sound silly, but you have no idea how many writers I see “shoulding” themselves into writing novels when they don’t really want to or writing blog posts when they’re just not that into it. But someone along their writing journey once told them they should be doing that stuff, so they are.
Problem is they don’t really care about it. And so they procrastinate and make excuses and find ways to keep putting the writing off.
If you’re not fueled by the writing you’re doing, stop doing it and find the writing that really matters to you. I love writing fiction and always saw myself as a novelist but now that I’m two novels deep, I’m feeling much more pulled to write screenplays. I’m happy that I’ve learned and mastered craft all these years because it will make my novelist-to-screenwriter transition much easier.
I could’ve spent year shoulding myself into writing more novels. And I probably will still write novels too. But I’m finally allowing myself to try other types of writing that I’m feeling pulled to try.
When you actually care about the writing you’re doing, you’re much less likely to put it off for other things. And you’ll show up to the page excited and inspired and ready to get started.
3. Make Space for What Matters
Now that you’re clear on the writing that actually matters to you, you have to make space for it. Yes, that means you have to look at your life currently and where you’re spending your time each day.
If you’re not sure, grab a notebook and spend the next couple of days tracking how you spend your time (you don’t have to do this for long, a couple days should be enough).
I guarantee you’ll see a lot of stuff that you do on a daily basis that is far less of a priority than your writing. So why exactly are you putting that stuff ahead of your writing?
Answer: because you think you’re supposed to. But the truth is you’re not. You’re supposed to do what matters to you and do it daily.
When you ignore your writing or put it off for other stuff that doesn’t really matter or is less important to you, that’s when life loses its joy and purpose. Unhappiness, resentment, depression, anger… they’re often side effects of not doing your soul work. In this case, that would be your writing.
If you feel that way–that writing is your soul work–then you must make space for it in your day.
Notice I said MAKE space not FIND space. Find implies you don’t currently have enough space which isn’t true. You have space, you’re just not using it right.
Make implies that you’re intentionally turning something into a priority. And priorities always get done.
Imagine if brushing your teeth every day wasn’t a priority! Of course you can’t imagine that because you always make time for it. Otherwise you’d have no teeth left to eat with or smile with.
Make your writing as much of a priority as brushing your teeth and your entire life will change.
4. Ruthlessly Kill Shit that Doesn’t Matter
I used to watch TV while eating my breakfast. I used to spend two+ hours on Sundays cleaning and tidying up my apartment. And both of those things used to get in the way of doing my writing.
Now I won’t even turn the TV on if I haven’t done my writing. Now I wouldn’t even consider spending two hours cleaning if I haven’t worked on my novel or written my blog post.
Why? Because I made the decision to kill off anything that doesn’t really matter to me and that just gets in the way of my productivity.
Yes, it takes discipline to do this. But I believe that discipline creates freedom.
I do my writing every day first thing in the morning before I do anything else. Because I do this, I get it done for the day and it’s off my mind. And magically I still find time to watch TV and to clean my apartment.
Do what matters. Kill off anything that doesn’t.
5. Do Your Writing Daily
Yes, I’m telling you to write every single day. No matter what. Just do your writing.
You want to feel better and be happier and have a more freedom-filled life? Then stop putting off your writing. Period.
Write for 15 minutes. Make notes for your story while you drink your coffee in the morning. Jot down a new scene on your phone while the kids are playing soccer.
Use the little pockets of time that you have available to you. If you do this daily, it will add up.
Rehabbing your writing life is pretty simple. It just requires you to be honest with yourself about what you’ve been doing up to this point, get clear on what actually matters, and then committing to making time for what matters every day.
Write with a purpose, live with intention,