Hi book lovers and welcome back to another post. This one is going to be different one today, but I hope you enjoy it just as much as the others. On twitter recently, I shared a poll asking what content you guys wanted to see, besides reviews and interviews, and some of you asked for short stories, which I’ll be arranging soon. Yet, some of you asked for weekly writing updates! Whilst this isn’t precisely a weekly update, it is something that I thought I would share as it’s been a big part of my writing experience, particularly lately.
Since becoming more active on social media, and the writing community, I have been aware of the problem’s authors/writers deal with daily. From what I have seen, one of the biggest challenges is how to tackle writing whilst working in a full-time job, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to a write a post discussing this particular issue. Because let’s be honest, most of us aren’t able to earn a supportive living from our writing (not yet anyway), and what about those of us who are just starting out? This is something I have wanted to write about for a while now, as I have experienced this more times than I can count, not only within my story writing but with my blog posts, reviews, job application/cover letter writing etc… Writing in itself is no easy task, so to add a full-time job onto that, I would call ourselves superheroes. We tell ourselves we’ll do it tomorrow, but unfortunately, tomorrow never comes, and suddenly we’re left in this vicious cycle until all spark has gone.
So how do we keep that spark alive? How do we work and write without burning ourselves to exhaustion?
I have been writing since I was sixteen, yet in the past couple of years, I have started to take it more seriously. During these years, I have been going to university, doing a full-time job, socialising with friends, exercising, and many other things that have prevented me from finishing a story. I now have hundreds of uncompleted drafts sitting somewhere in my files. Every day, I come home tired and want to do nothing more than to binge watch tv shows. But I have to get my writing done.
AND YES I FINALLY REACHED 30K OF MY FANTASY NOVEL, WHICH IS THE MOST I HAVE WRITTEN ON A WIP TO DATE. To sit here and say this, is not only exciting, but a proud moment for me! It’s not much as some, but I had never expected to reach this far. And this could be you! So, to celebrate, I am going to share some of the things I have done to help tackle writing and to help keep that writing spark alive. I’m not saying this is something you should do, but that it’s just something of the things that has helped me, and that will help me finally achieve my dreams of finishing a novel.
First, and foremost, take rests! It’s hard to not write every day, and at the beginning of my writing journey, I wrote all the time because I felt I had too in order to be a good writer. But believe it or not, actually writing every single day can be one of the causes for losing motivation instead of carrying it. Hence why I never finished any of my other wips. It’s like exercise, for example. If you train seven days a week, you are not giving your muscles enough time to rest, which can actually be a reason for muscle strain and tiredness rather than feeling uplifted and good. Suddenly, you don’t want to work out anymore. The same goes for writing. Giving yourself a day or two of rest to let your mind re-charge is a good thing! Remember, your book is going to be there when you get back.
Set, realistic, goals. This can be anything to a particular word count a session or get to a specific chapter. But don’t make them too big that you struggle. Make small goals that will help you feel like you’ve achieved things more quickly, which will definitely keep the motivation alive. I have celebrated every 10k words written as it helps me feel like I am getting somewhere instead just the end goal being the end. It gets me excited to keep hitting the next one every time! I also set myself a 1000-word, wordcount when I sit and write, and most days, I actually write more! However, there are some days where I can’t even scramble 500. Instead of frantically trying to reach the other 500 words with sentences that will make me cringe, and most likely be deleted, I accept that it’s the best I can for today. Remember, goals are not a rule. They are just there to help, so if you can’t do that extra 400 words, then don’t. And don’t be ashamed if your goals are ‘lesser’ than others. I have spoken to authors who write 5000 words a day, and authors who write 500. I have even talked to authors who try and get at least one book out a year and some who took twenty years! The best thing about these goals is that you do what is best for you, and in the long run, smaller goals help more than bigger ones.
Join the writing community. This may be the biggest motivator in all my years of writing, and I highly recommend any aspiring author to do the same! Engaging with authors, writers, and book lovers not only helps you keep connected to your craft but can help you shape and re-discover it. Writing is not a lonely profession as it may be portrayed, so don’t do it that way. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook groups, Camp NaNoWriMo, are just some of the places you can join to connect with people. Ask questions, talk to everyone! You’ll find there are some exciting things to learn and use. I love talking to fellow authors, not just about writing but about their day and their lives. It makes me realise that I am not alone. During times I am utterly down about my WIP, they are there to pick me up! It’s also perfect if you have no book-loving friends, great for finding beta readers, finding writing competitions and seeking out those all-important agents, editors etc…
Read. I don’t believe in the saying ‘the more you read, the more you’ll become a better writer’ because the only way to become a better writer is to actually write. However, reading books can build more creativity and give you better ideas for your own novel. There have been many times where I have learned something that has sparked me an idea for my own. Reading is also a great way to destress after a long day. If I don’t feel like writing, I will read a book as it will always make me feel better.
However, some authors are not a fan of reading, and that’s completely fine. This is where my next tip comes in. Get another hobby. You’re probably screaming at me right now saying ‘but isn’t this how to keep writing, not stop it?’ And yes, it is, but let’s be real if all you’re doing is going to work, writing and socialising from time to time, then you are eventually going to burn out and lose that passion. It’s boring. Having another hobby can keep things fresh and interesting for you. Exercising, playing games, reading, knitting, baking, whatever it is you like to do, do it! You’re not solely put in place to write every single, so if you want to skip it to go rollerblading or work on your musical talent, then I say do it; otherwise, you’ll begrudgingly hate yourself and your writing for not doing so.
Finally, and most importantly. Love your story. I’m not talking about your writing or the writing process, but the actual story you are trying to get across. Love the characters, the development, the action, even the minute little scenes that aren’t as action-packed. Every day I am thinking about my story, and I really do mean EVERY DAY. When I’m sleeping and when I’m serving customers on the till and even when I’m showering. Yeah, I know it sounds extreme, but I really do love my story that I engulf myself in it. If you don’t, how do you expect others too? Have you ever been so engrossed in a TV show that you spend weeks/months watching cast interviews, behind the scenes footage and even secretly wished you were a part of it? That’s how I feel with my own work. Does it sound egotistic? Have we not normalised writers loving their work yet? Why write a world you’re not in love with? Eventually, you’ll just get bored. I know I did.
And now you know my tips to keep that writing spark alive. Did any of these sound helpful for you? Let me know.
Trust me, it’s no easy process, but if you want it enough, you’ll eventually get there. Remember, be proud of everything you do, celebrate every success like it’s the big one. You ‘only’ reached 5k? That’s much better than most people can do. What’s your social media? I want to hype you up!
Keep writing lovelies. You bloody got this.