[Tipster] How to Take Control of Your Writing Life

tipster post Nov 21, 2022

I am a fan of hypothetical scenarios, like “What if I was stranded on an island by myself…”

Without question, I’d be doomed. I’d never figure out how to make fire, spear fish, or build shelter.
 
But sometimes I think about what it would be like stranded on an island with all my favorite things: a quaint climate-controlled tent; food at my fingertips; and books. (Sounds more like a vacation.)
 
Sometimes I even imagine being stuck on an island with my piano. 
 
I’m the world’s okay-est pianist. And in this scenario—the stranded-on-an-island-with-my-piano scenario—I imagine that I’d have nothing else to do but practice the piano. Finally, I’d have time to master a classical piece or two.
 
It reminds me of a quote by Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club: “I’ve often fantasized I would get a lot of writing done if I were put in prison for a minor crime. Three to six months.”
 
Even the Pros Get Distracted
 
Tan’s admission is humorous and validating.
 
Even the pros feel like they never have enough time to produce the writing they want to produce.
 
Being distracted is a universal human condition.
 
I think that’s why I like Journey Sixty6’s motto: “Buckle up and write.”
 
The idiom, “buckle up,” of course, metaphorically has to do with preparing yourself for something exciting, intense, or maybe even hair-raising. The writing journey is all of those things.
 
But another reason I like “Buckle and write” is because it is a reminder that you, as a writer, can take control of your writing life.
 
You can fight the distractions of your day, buckle into your writing seat, and make progress.
 
It’s an empowering motto.
 
Staying Buckled Up
 
So how do you stay buckled up to write and take control of your writing life?
 
Here are a few ideas:
 

  1. Lean into a writing ritual. Maybe you do a few exercises before you sit down to write, go for a walk, put on your writing clothes, or indulge in a latte from your favorite coffee shop. The ritual can be a powerful signal that you are about to get serious about your writing.
  2. Set a short time to write, take a break, and then go back, if you have more time. Small goals can help you make real progress and encourage you to get back in the writing seat again.
  3. Write something fun for yourself, first. You might write a quick social media post, respond to a writing prompt, or even journal some observations from the previous day. Take the pressure off, and you’ll find yourself in the writing groove for your “big” writing project.
  4. Turn off notifications on your phone. Maybe even hide your phone, if you’re tempted to check in.  Let’s face it. Our willpower is weak, and we think a dopamine hit from the Internet will move us forward. But it actually keeps us from pushing through the hard.
  5. Set goals. We do this weekly in Roadtrippers. And those writers who impose goals actually do buckle up and write. They make progress.

 
I’m sure you have your own strategies.