I have written previously about the difficulties that accompany the writing process. When I really got to thinking about how people cope with these challenges while also pursuing other ambitions – careers, raising a family, cooking dinner every night – I realized that for the most part, they don’t. A lot of us are not writing as much as we want to be. A lot of us are not writing at all. It is absolutely heartbreaking to think of the number of people who want to be authors or poets but never seem to be able to fit writing a book into their busy schedules.
I’m not here to pass judgement, point fingers, or guilt-trip. What I would like to do is suggest some strategies for getting back on the writing train if it’s something you’ve been missing
Get the other parts of your life in order. We all know that some of the best writers also had challenging personal lives. It is possible to produce incredible work while struggling in other areas, but for many of us, if dinner’s not made and we had a rough day at work, we’re not going to be able to sit down and write at our best. Use writing as a motivator to get organized and start living the life you want.
Force yourself to be accountable. For many of us, we were most prolific in our writing while enrolled in school. Why? Because we had to be! Having to hand in assignments provides excellent motivation to get to work. If you are hoping to make writing a priority, consider creating a system that keeps you accountable for creating high-quality work. For some people, this may be as simple as setting deadlines. For others, this may mean enlisting a friend or family member to act as an enforcer, making sure you consistently produce work on time.
Structure your time. Waiting until you have enough time to write is sort of like waiting for that spider in the basement shower to knit you a bikini. Is it theoretically possible? Yes. But it’s just never going to happen. If you’re going to produce considerable work, you have to consciously set aside time dedicated to writing. If you think you will have trouble sticking to schedule you set yourself, consider taking a writing class or starting a writing group with a few friends.
Make concrete goals. Many of us “want to write more” but we actually have no idea what we would do if we did sit down to write. Setting concrete goals – such as “I will write a short story this week” – will not only give you something to work towards but shape your thinking so that you are on the lookout for good settings, characters, and plot ideas.
Don’t keep your writing to yourself. It can be hard to share, but can you imagine what our world would be like if J.K. Rowling never contacted a publisher? Sharing your work is necessary if you hope to be published, if you want feedback on your work, if you want to be held consistently accountable, and so on. Not to mention your writing might just change someone’s life.
Rachael Heffernan has recently completed a Master’s Degree in Religious Studies at the University of Alberta. In the course of her academic career, she has received a number of scholarships and awards, including the Harrison Prize in Religion and The Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship. During her undergraduate degree, Rachael was published twice in The Codex: Bishop University’s Journal of Philosophy, Religion, Classics, and Liberal Arts for her work on Hittite divination and magic and philosophy of religion. Rachael has also had the opportunity to participate in an archaeological dig in Israel, and has spoken at a conference on Secularism at the University of Alberta on the Christian nature of contemporary Western healthcare. Her wide-ranging interests in scholarship are complemented by her eclectic extra-curricular interests: she is a personal safety instructor and lifelong martial artist who has been recognized for her leadership with a Nepean Community Sports Hero Award. She is an enthusiastic reader, writer, and learner of all things, a tireless athlete, and a passionate teacher.