Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents? Click here! →
Your writing career is more than just the moments you spend actually writing. To make the most of the time that you’re able to dedicate to the craft you love, look at the bigger picture and establish habits that will support your writing career throughout your entire life.
Writer’s Relief’s List Of Lifetime Habits All Writers Should Cultivate
Pin your hopes on the process. If you hang your self-worth and your idea of success on factors you can’t control, like approval from literary agents or big fat royalties, then you’ll probably be disappointed.
The only thing you can control is your relationship to the work (and joy) of writing. If you develop a mindset that the PROCESS of writing defines success, then your love of writing will be less likely to falter—and less susceptible to outside influences.
Identify your BEST time of day for writing. Knowing how to maximize your talent can be an essential strategy for a long career. When your brain is at its best, your writing is at its best. Take this self-test to identify your best time of day for writing.
Stick to a routine. While there’s nothing wrong with scrambling for a notepad to jot down spontaneous ideas, consider scheduling focused, regular time for your craft. Not only will you increase productivity, you might find you suffer less often from writer’s block. Many well-known writers stress the importance of “butt-in-chair” time. To quote Jack London, “Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.”
Connect with other writers. When your creative gas tank runs empty, having a few understanding writer friends can go a long way toward refueling your muse. Plus, by networking and attending seminars and classes, you ensure that you will never stop learning about the business of writing—which is always changing. Here’s a great list of writing organizations.
Look out the window, not at the window dressing. Distractions are often irresistible. Time spent on research, on perfecting a Facebook post, on noodling around with colors on your writer business card—all these things might be important, but they’re not writing. Writing is writing. And the only way to be a writer is to write. First, last, and forever. Everything else is window dressing.
Focus on your strengths—and then delegate the rest. If you’re a writer, chances are that writing is what you’re good at. A writing career has many moving parts—from cover art design, to proofreading, to negotiation, to Web design, to creating and implementing marketing campaigns, to research, to searching for reviews and blog interviews…the list goes on. For those tasks that are not your strong points, ask others for help so you can put your best energy into what you do best. And remember: When it comes to making submissions to literary agents and editors of literary magazines, Writer’s Relief has your back. Let us do the research and prep work of making submissions so you can just write.
Never stop learning. One of the best things about being a writer is that your work will never be done. You will never get to the top of the mountain. You will never run out of books to study and read. And really—how great is that? Writing will challenge you, feed your curiosity, and invigorate your creative energy for as long as you’re willing to let it (and for as long as you keep focusing on process and not on other people’s ideas of success).
And The One Final Strategy That Matters All The Time:
When you’re a lifelong writer, everything’s relevant. There’s no detail of life that isn’t ripe with possibility and meaning in terms of how you approach your process and craft. Most writers know this intuitively (that’s why we’re always either staring intently into space or getting ridiculously excited by otherwise mundane things).
But the same concept that applies to your inner life also applies to your external life. How you take care of yourself—physically, emotionally, and mentally—has an immeasurable impact on your writing, even when it’s not obvious. By tending to your overall well-being, you tend to your writing career.
Question: What’s your best tip for a lifelong love affair with writing?