Whether you’re already a full-time writer looking to develop a healthier and more sustainable approach to your craft, or you’re hoping to take the plunge soon and quit your day job, some tried and true strategies can help you succeed.
The unfortunate reality is that many creatives suffer from the damaging belief that they’re somehow incapable of building autonomous, sustainable careers if they follow their heart and pursue their passion. Thankfully, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here are some tricks for establishing yourself as a professional writer and building a sustainable routine around your creative work.
Focus on one (or two) things at a time
The chances are that if you’re a writer, you have a wonderfully active imagination that regularly produces are sorts of intriguing ideas for stories and projects (except when plagued with writer’s block, of course, but never mind that for now). The problem with having such an engaged and multifaceted approach to your work, though, is that you can end up taking on too much for fear of missing out on an opportunity or idea. It can be frightening to commit to just one thing, as many of us remember being told things like “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” The reality is that you’re never going to get anything finished if you’re spinning too many plates at once though. Ask yourself: What project am I most excited about and how can I leverage my time my wisely to make progress?
Ditch the guilt (and the procrastination it causes)
If you’re going to this writing thing full-time, or at least commit to doing it part-time, you need to develop strategies that allow you to avoid a cycle of guilt and procrastination. Especially if the time to pursue your creative endeavours was something you had to work very hard to squeeze in in the past, it could be easy to trick yourself into thinking writing only happens at odd hours or days or in-lieu of other things you enjoy. That need not be the case. Writing does require discipline, but if it’s going to be something you stick with over time—it can’t make you miserable. Balance is key and you need to ensure you also schedule in time for things you enjoy going aside from writing. Most importantly, when the time comes to do those things, don’t let feelings of guilt and anxiety take over. Your work shouldn’t bleed into other things you care about. Remember that you are in charge of your feelings and how you approach your day.
Embrace the network your craft provides you
One of the greatest untapped resources that many writers miss out on is the rich and dynamic community their work provides access to. Creative work does indeed present its own unique set of challenges, and knowing that you’re not alone and that this is as hard as it seems for most people—can be an invaluable lesson in times of struggle. Talk to other writers, share your work, commiserate, and ask for/offer support!