I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first stories when I was five years old. As a teenager I loved to journal my thoughts and feelings. Then after studying English at University I did a postgraduate creative writing course. I always wanted to write fiction, but my mind had other ideas!
As the years went I started many novels, but something always kept me blocked and unable to finish them. It was becoming a mother that helped me to find my writing subject, and finish a parenting book. Now I’m finally living the writing career of my dreams. My book will be published later this year, and I’m working on the next one.
My 5 top tips to have the writing career of your dreams
I’ve included a journal prompt for each one, so you can explore whatever might be holding you back from fulfilling them. Just write for 10-15 minutes on whatever thoughts pop into your mind for each question.
1. Don’t fight the muse. After years of experiencing writer’s block I don’t believe in it anymore. I think what actually happens is that we want to write in one genre of writing (for me it was novels) while our unconscious mind has its own subject in mind.
Just this morning I really wanted to work on a piece about grief when my grandmother died, and how crying helped me heal, but it just wasn’t working. I could have dismissed it as a bad writing day, but then I realised that my unconscious wanted to share this blog post with you instead.
Instead of trying to control our writing, we can simply listen to what our mind is trying to tell us, and then the process is effortless.
Journal Prompt: What does your unconscious really want to say?
2. Don’t procrastinate. On the other hand don’t give up, and switch between projects as soon as you begin your writing day. It can take a while to get your brain in gear (or the caffeine to kick in!). It can take many writes and rewrites, till our words match our intentions.
After 8 months of trying to get the first chapter of my book right I was feeling pretty disheartened. However a few months later, I sent off a book proposal and got a publishing deal. I was amazed that after that it took me 6 months to finish the remaining chapters. All that early work paid off later.
Journal Prompt: What is the one thing that you’d like to say that seems scary, difficult or complicated? Write down the first thing that pops into your head, and keep going.
3. Start small but dream big.
In my twenties and early thirties I wrote some travel articles, even though travel is not really my thing, I just happened to be living abroad. That led to a job as a co-editor of a an English magazine in Switzerland. This wasn’t my dream writing, but it did give me the confidence to know that I could write well, and finish articles. That confidence transferred to the writing I really wanted to do.
Journal Prompt: What is the big story that you want to write?
4. Call it work. Getting paid for writing helped me to take my non-paid writing seriously. I started calling it work and felt less guilty for negotiating time to get it done. You won’t make money at first, but it’s important to take your own dreams seriously. So arrange for childcare, whether it’s investing a bit of money or a babysitting swap with a friend. And if you are paid for freelancing or blogging, you can sneak off, and pretend you’re doing your paid work!
Journal Prompt: What gets in the way of you writing as much as you’d like to?
4. Connect with other writers. Whether it’s networking at a blogging conference or joining your local writer’s group, we need to find our “village” to support and inspire us, and lift us up when we’re feeling down.
Journal Prompt: What’s your biggest struggle as a writer?
5. Don’t give up. Don’t be disheartened by rejections. It’s often simply a matter of personal taste. C.S Lewis had 800 rejections before his first acceptance, and J.K Rowling says she recieved ‘loads’ of rejections before Harry Potter was published.
Journal Prompt: Imagine the writing life of your dreams
What do you dream of writing? Tweet me your writing dreams and what’s getting in the way. I’d love to hear from you!
Further Reading: Wild Mind – Living The Writer’s Life, by Natalie Goldberg
Kate Orson is a mother, writer and Hand in Hand parenting instructor. She has taught creative writing workshops focusing on inspiration and the healing power of writing. Her book Tears Heal: How To Listen To Our Children, is now available to pre-order. Follow her blog, Listening To Tears, or on Twitter @kateorson.