How to Build a Successful Writing Life

Building a successful writing life one step at a time

Building a successful writing life one step at a timeWhen I explain my writing process and writing life to others, it sounds like a finely honed process. So much so that I’ve had seasoned writers tell me how impressed they are.

I don’t say this to brag. My process and writing life don’t feel all that impressive to me, but they really are as finely honed as they sound. Does that mean it works for me 100% of the time? Of course not. But I do feel productive and successful more often than not. (If you want to read more about my process, check out my Writing Process series! You can find the first post here!)

I firmly believe the main reason my approach is so effective is that I took the time to figure out the best process for me. But this didn’t happen overnight. So today, I’m going to share how I created my process and writing life in the hopes that these steps will help you build a life that works best for you.

1) Identify what’s slowing you down or giving you a problem

Make a list and be honest with yourself. Is time management a problem? Or is it that you don’t have enough time in your day? Is it that you feel “stuck” a lot? Do you find yourself losing steam with your plot? Consider both practical writing problems (getting stuck) and life/environment problems (not having the time and space).

If a list isn’t your thing, you can just go to the next step. I  stumbled into this method accidentally, so I didn’t actually have a list when I started. I just had a good understanding of what standing my way.

2) Pick the biggest problem and work that ONE problem only

This is really the key for me. I built my process by solving one problem at a time. It’s taken YEARS to get it to the place where people are apparently impressed by how I work, but it never felt overwhelming to me. By focusing on a single issue, I was able to continually improve and work better without getting bogged down in trying to fix everything at once.

So, pick your biggest issue (or, if you’re not working from a list, take one issue you want to solve). If your biggest problem is that you don’t have enough time, sit down, take a hard look at your schedule and see where you can find some more. Then show up. Even if you don’t get much done because you have other problems to solve, give yourself credit for solving (or improving) that ONE problem you’re working.

3) Fine-tune your approach on that ONE problem until you find something that works for you

Work that ONE problem until you find a solution. Maybe you need to get up a little earlier and write before anyone needs anything from you. Maybe you need to make use of the ten or fifteen minute windows throughout your day. Do some online research and see how other people have solved a similar problem, and try a bunch of things until you feel you’ve overcome that obstacle. Progress may be slow as you work through this. It always seems to be with trial and error. Take yourself off the clock and focus on finding some progress. And know that taking the time to figure out how you work best now will set you up for a lifetime of progress. Trust me, it’s worth it!

4) Repeat with the next element on your list

Once you’ve successfully worked out your obstacle, go back to your list and pick something else! Work it through the process!

5) Don’t be afraid to modify as you and your work evolve

Every project has different needs. Plus, as you grow, you’ll learn new tricks you can try out. If you follow me on Instagram, you know I’m a big outliner. My outlines are multicolored and span several sheets of paper, but it took me several years (and books) to work up to that point. And it’s still evolving. I’ve found my process and writing life to be living things that I continuously adapt.

6) Don’t limit this approach to your writing

I have found this process to be addictive and I apply it often in my everyday life. For example, I once found I was spending too much time checking and answering email, so I sat down and figured out a way to be just as effective in less time. You can use this process for nearly every aspect of your life that you’d like to improve.

Final note:

After writing this out felt, I feel like this make look a little daunting but I really hope it doesn’t feel overwhelming to read. I swear I didn’t find it to be too much when I was going through the bulk of the work early on. It felt like I was learning more about myself, and becoming more complete with each new trick I learned. I hope this approach helps you as much as it’s helped me. And if you need help solving a particular problem, leave a comment below! If I have tips to share, I’ll try to do a post on what you’re struggling with.

I hope this helps you build a successful writing life!

Now it’s your turn: How do you fine-tune your writing life? Tell me about it in the comments!

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