I’m part of the #WritingCommunity on Twitter, and I love how supportive the community can be. There are regular writers lift threads where people can get new followers and share their latest work, aspiring authors can ask for advice and hear from the full gamut of writers and experts from the publishing industry, and there are even communities specifically for writers who are trans, queer, disabled, BIPOC, or other identities.
It can also be a shitty place, because it’s Twitter, and we can’t always have nice things. Sometimes people will be rude. But in my experience, it’s worth curating a supportive writing community and getting comfortable with that block button — no matter which platform you’re on.
Writing is something I’ve really missed. As I left my full-time role in content marketing (which had a lot of writing) in mid 2020 and shifted gears into building my creative coaching practice, I wasn’t writing as much. Even though I don’t believe in resolutions per se, I wanted to intentionally bring more writing back into my life this year. If this is something you’re working on too, here are four tips I have to write more!
Tip 1: Start each day with writing
I resisted this advice for so long, because I “didn’t get journaling.” Why would I write something no one else would ever see? What was the point of that?
Despite knowing about Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages exercise, I never gave in and tried it until last year when I ran a seven day Morning Pages challenge in my free Facebook community. I found that I really loved it!
The best part of a morning journal practice is that there are no rules, besides writing three pages. Sometimes I do my pages before breakfast, sometimes I eat first and get a cup of coffee before I open my notebook. Sometimes I use it as a dream journal, or I write down things making me anxious, or I make a to-do list for the day and write about the same thing I wrote about yesterday. No rules! Just getting words out of your brain and onto a page.
You may find yourself finding nuggets of inspiration where you least expected them, turning a short line from your journaling into a poem or story idea, or maybe you just feel more clear throughout the day because you were able to get all of yesterday’s stuff out of your brain to start your day.
Give it a try!
Tip 2: Write Lots of trash
Sometimes you’ll write a story, blog, or chapter… and you’ll look at it and think it is absolute rubbish that should never see the light of day. This is allowed.
You are under no obligation to produce great work every time you write. (Or sing, paint, etc.)
In fact, the way you become a better writer is to write poorly first. Only through consistency and quantity will you become the writer you want to be. You have to willing to be bad at it first — and this sucks. Because none of us want to be bad at things. But it’s part of the process.
There’s a story from a book called Art & Fear about quantity over quality.
The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.
His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pounds of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot – albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”.
Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
Lean into the quantity of your writing and you WILL improve the quality. Perfectionism won’t lead to perfection, it only leads to sabotage!
Tip 3: Consistency doesn’t mean every day
In order to be a writer, you do need to write. And it can be intimidating to get started, especially seeing that some writers are in a “5am Writers Club” and share new word counts every day. Stephen King is known to write every single day and credits this consistency with his high volume of published works.
Don’t freak out! You can set your own writing schedule and define what consistent writing means for you. While I do recommend the practice of daily journaling, you don’t have to write books, blogs, poems, etc. every day. If daily writing fits into your schedule with balance and doesn’t detract from the other parts of your life, by all means, write daily! But you can also make time in your schedule to write once a week, or a few times a week, on a schedule that feels achievable and consistent.
I work on my novel on Wednesday mornings from 9am to noon. I write a chapter or two each week. If I tried to write every day, I probably wouldn’t write at all. But knowing that Wednesday is Novel Day helps me focus my energy for those three hours and achieve a level of writing I would normally struggle with.
Whatever consistency looks like for you is A-OK.
Tip 4: Seek mentorship and community
Motivational speaker Jim Rohn said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So if you want to write more, it would make sense to spend time with other writers! Being around other people who share your craft is naturally motivating and will keep you engaged with writing mentally even when you’re not actively working on your writing projects.
In the Run Like Hell Toward Happy Community on Facebook, we celebrate and motivate creatives of all kinds, including writers! If you’re active on Facebook, it’s a great place to surround yourself with like-minded creators.
Seeking a mentor is more in-depth than surrounding yourself with a writing community. This is a mutually agreed upon relationship with someone who is more experienced in your field (a writer, editor, or agent could fit this need, if they are open to mentorship) or a professional coach who works with writers.
Bonus Tip 5: Set and evaluate your goals every 90 days
I am a firm believer in the 90 day goal setting strategy. It takes this long to instill a new habit, whether you’re writing daily, weekly, or somewhere between — so committing to your new writing schedule, morning pages practice, or any other writing goal should be evaluated after 90 days to make sure it’s working.
Spending some time with my free goal setting workbook will help you evaluate what’s gone wrong with writing goals in the past, set your goals in a new way, and check in regularly to keep your goals on track. Get your copy here!