I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve restarted my writing career.
My reasons for getting sidetracked are many. Because of life circumstances. Because of new paths and directions, like when I threw myself into Joyful Miles for about five years, something I’m still proud of and have zero regrets for. But the biggest reason is simple: Because I allowed the mind monsters of fear, doubt, and perfectionism to win, and the notion of self-publishing is extremely intimidating.
But here’s the thing about me: I never give up on myself.
Somewhere deep inside me is a determination that keeps me from quitting, even though it’s been nine years since the release of my second novel. Each time I dust myself off and start again, however, there’s always been something crucial missing:
I don’t truly feel like a writer.
Sure, I’ve been writing. In the past three years, I’ve completed two mid-grade novels, one young adult, and a women’s fiction novel that I’m currently editing but in a way, writing still feels like a hobby and I’m not interested in another hobby, though. I have enough of them. I want to feel and perform like a thriving author again, one with deadlines and publishing goals.
I want to feel like a writer again.
Especially since I’ve proven to myself that I’m capable of having two books published in the past. So I recently went on a deep dive to find out what, exactly, I can do in order to get fully back into the game and reach my goal of becoming a successful indie author.
How to Feel like a Writer … Again.
Technically, I could end the list right here.
If you want to be a runner, you must run. If you want to crochet an afghan, buy some yarn and get to work. And if you want to be a writer … You. Must. Write. And not just when you feel like it or when your finicky muse decides to make an appearance.
“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” ~Stephen King
Developing a consistent writing habit must be the first step, whether it’s for novels, short stories, screenplays, quick writing exercises, blog posts, or what have you.
Does it have to be daily? Well, that depends on you. For me, writing or doing other writerly things every day Monday through Friday is a realistic, achievable goal, leaving the weekends free for playing, catching up, or monthly writing retreats. Maybe you need more, maybe you need less. For tips on figuring this out, check out this video by Jenna Moreci!
“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the water is turned on.” ~ Louis L’Amour
Get ready for the quote parade:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.” ~Stephen King
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time, (or tools,) to write. Simple as that.” ~Stephen King
“The six golden rules of writing: read, read, read, write, write, write.” ~Ernest Gaines
“Reading is the finest teacher of how to write.” ~Annie Proulx
I better cut it off now before I get too carried away.
But there’s a reason why reading is so important for writers. Through reading, you subconsciously learn about plotting, story structure, character development, and pacing. You learn how to hook a reader, make them care, and keep them engaged to the final page. (Or vice versa … how to lose a reader if you find your own interest waning after a few chapters.) And reading a lovely book can give you the inspiration to write your own!
Now, there are some writers who claim they never read and that’s fine. To each their own. But if you’re reading this in hopes of feeling more like a writer … read.
“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.” ~Anthony J. D’Angelo
It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve written. Whether you’re a total beginner or seasoned pro with hundreds of completed stories, there’s always more to learn. And I can say with quite a certainty that being a published writer does NOT mean you’re experienced with nothing left to learn.
So keep growing and improving by:
- Reading craft books. (Here’s a list of my favorites.)
- Listening to podcasts.
- Watching AuthorTube videos.
- Going to conferences or taking online courses.
- Invest in skill-sharing apps or programs like Skillshare or my personal favorite, MasterClass! The cost of an all-access MasterClass pass is truly worth it for writers!
4.) Connect with other writers
Writing doesn’t have to be a solitary adventure and there’s nothing more comforting than finding kindred spirits and like-minded souls who speak your language. I’m eternally grateful for the people I’ve met throughout my writing journey who have shared my struggles and insecurities, cheering me on every step of the way!
I’ve pulled away from them throughout the past five years, however, and it shows. Instead, I’ve developed dear friendships with fellow runners, Disney lovers, and fitness enthusiasts. The results? I’ve finished nine marathons, twenty half marathons, and earned nearly 100 runDisney medals … which I don’t regret for one single second.
But published books? Zero.
Where you can meet other writers and become a part of the community? Well, I’m still at the dipping-my-toe-in-stage. But you can find them at:
- Social media sites like TikTok, Instagram and Twitter. (Use the hashtag #writerscommunity to find others wanting to connect!)
- Facebook groups … my favorite is Sara Cannon’s Heart Breathing Writing Sprints where members can do daily writing sprints and there’s a virtual retreat each month! Fellowship and sprints? Total win-win.
- Leave comments on AuthorTube videos and connect with others.
- Take on the National Novel Writing Month challenge, (NaNoWriMo,) in November or Camp NaNoWriMo in April or July! Joining a cabin is a great way to meet others and stay motivated!
- See if there are any writing groups through your local library or in your town. Mine is starting back up the first week of September!
- Join writing associations such as the Society of Childrens Book Writers & Illustrators, (SCBWI,) the Romance Writers of America, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and local or state organizations like the Maryland Writers Association.
And speaking of writers groups … I’ve always dreamed about joining a writers group like in the movie, Author Anonymous … before they got all crazy and turned on each other, LOL!
5.) Artist Dates
While I have been writing morning pages nearly every day, I’ve been slacking with the twelve-week program. It’s a lot, y’all, to keep up with.
One component of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way (affiliate link) that I really want to do more of is artist dates, where you devote time to your creative self and fill your creative well. Go to a museum or wander around a bookstore or the library. Read in a cute coffee shop or go for a walk on a wooded trail. Watch the sunrise, bake something yummy, watch a movie, take a tour, expand by watching a documentary, or watch the sunset.
Refill that well!
6.) Blog or journal your thoughts
So this one might not be for everyone and it’s certainly one to avoid if it takes away time from your story writing.
But I adore blogging.
Writing about writing truly makes me feel connected to … well, writing! There was also something so cathartic about giving this blog a fresh theme and much-needed makeover. For so many years, this website has been my home base and it feels amazing giving it some love.
If you’re not yet at the point where you want to invest time in a website or blog, I highly recommend buying a domain if you haven’t done so yet. Buying a domain for your future author website tells yourself that you have confidence you’ll get there one day!
Journaling is also an amazing way to connect with your inner creative self, whether it’s morning pages, cute journals with prompts, or what have you!
7.) Create your space
I’m all about aesthetics.
Creating a place for you to write, whether grand or small is such a gorgeous ritual! Find an unused table or desk, buy scented candles to only use while writing, put up motivational prints, posters, or quotes, create an inspirational playlist to listen to, the cozier, the better!
8.) Start a business
Maybe you’re not ready for this step and that’s totally cool, your writing journey is unique and yours alone!
But if you do have the ambition to publish your work, either through traditional means or self-publishing, then get serious. Today. Now. Make the switch from random when-there’s-time hobbyist to a business owner. Create a five-year plan for your writing career and get to work.
You got this, my friend. I have total faith in you and myself. Let’s do this!