by Kris Maze
The end of 2021 will soon be here and it’s time to double down on annual writing goals. This year, I took a focused approach to the business of writing. If you are struggling to end the year strong, read on. There are many processes you could try in this little "writer pep talk."
Employing tactics useful for adult learners, I found ways to streamline my writing goals and built in time for reflection. Borrowing from psychology, education, and management theories, these practices have enhanced my author life. Now my writing life brings me more satisfaction, higher word count, and stronger goal completion.
Mental Blocks to Writing
It is common for writers to battle mental hurdles like:
- Imposter syndrome
- Plain old drudgery of life
These road bumps happen with every novel, but we don't want these to derail our ambition to craft stories.
Writer Friends, we don't have to let these subtle beasts undermine our talent. With some intentional planning and personal discipline, writers can set themselves up for success.
Writing fiction is a unique career because we work alone, talk about people and events that never happened, and delight in the imaginary worlds in our heads and hearts. It is easy to get off track and neglect those worlds we create when the real-world buts in.
Weird, right? But since you are reading this, you just might be in the same little club. You get it. You want more from your writing. Because you have a taste of the writing life, which always seems to entice us from around the next page of the career.
Taking Control of Your Authorpreneurship
If you want to engage in a process that lets you take control of your authorpreneurship, and gives you peace of mind. You get to spend your creative energy in ways that you approve, and that moves your career forward. Below are some suggestions.
Hold Your Own Business Meeting
Business meetings for your author life are one of the techniques I used to stay on track this year. Most writers who persevere with this work are self-starters.
If you are not feeling like the self-starting author today, there are ways to push through on your own. Before you hide away in your imagination and slowly let the world erode your writing presence from the page, consider the following…
One of my best ways to re-center my writing momentum is to reflect on my big author goals. Every 2 months the last 2 years, I have held a little, but very official, business meeting with myself. And I follow the steps common in any official meeting:
- Read the minutes from my last meeting
- Reflect on my yearly goals to date and determine how relevant they still are
- Identify the semi-monthly goals and their successes–and celebrate with a crisp high-five
- Check in on my plan’s progress or lack of and make assumptions why
- Assess my current plans, including: what I am working on, how much time I need to finish each task, and what time I have available
- Plot the tasks in an upcoming monthly goal planner. This one starts as a list, which I then flesh out in a spreadsheet, and assign into my tentative calendar.
Although the actual process is more akin to a teenager having a meaningful talk in the bathroom mirror, I make the business meeting official.
As the CEO of my author company, I dress the part (comfy clothes required), take a seat at my work spot, provide warm caffeinated beverages and light snacks at the center of the table, and wear my thick serious-toned glasses. I set a time, 10 am prompt, and stick to a schedule, so I respect my own time.
Are you still with me? You, my writer friend, are the CEO of your dream. Treat that honor with the respect it deserves.
Doubling Down on Authorpreneurship
You may not feel like an authorpreneur, but writers are in the business of creating a product (stories!) and connecting it to their buyers (reading audiences!) Even though the last couple of years have been extra challenging for creatives, it has also opened the door to new ways of publishing and writing.
It's true. The business side of publishing is sometimes intimidating and time-consuming. Let’s face it, there are more writers hesitant about marketing and showcasing their work than not.
Marketing yourself as an author is scary for many writers because it is personal, public, and mostly uncharted territory.
Writers need to be wary and savvy about what they really want to accomplish so they can avoid many publishing pitfalls. It's important to find your writing circle, which hopefully includes a multitude of caring individuals in publishing who will edify and strengthen your writing life.
Why Authors Need Time for Reflection
Reflection is imperative to becoming a better author.
As writers working in our own lanes, how can we take charge of our own improvement? John Dewey, a social reformer and educator, and the founder of pragmatism, changed the fundamental approaches to teaching and learning in the early 1900s. Without geeking out too much, we can sum his main cycle of inquiry up in this quote:
“(Personal Learning consists of) active, persistent, and consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in the light of the grounds that support it, and further conclusions to which it leads.”John Dewey
Phew. That’s a bit to unpack. To summarize, writers can use Dewey's theory to deepen their writing life and be more mindful as they travel their own personal road to publication.
What Does "Writing Reflection" Look Like?
How does a busy writer include the practice of reflection into their writing life, without feeling like it's "just another task" to add to their mile-long to-do list?
- Start by engaging actively in your reflection. What are you working on now in your writing career?
- Find “ground that supports it” What you observe now in your writing life?
- Move upon the discoveries you find. What actions can you take now?
- Rinse and repeat.
The process is a series of cyclical steps, so keep moving forward and grow in your author career.
“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”Will Rogers (horseman, radio and TV entertainer)
This digital age provides many opportunities to connect with other writers, to collaborate and learn from one another. But there's little that can match the benefits of hard work and personal reflection -- the act of being present -- to spur us forward in our growth as writers.
Stay tuned, partners... In a future post, I'm gathering the many resources available for writers to self-study and master the hard-to-learn pinch points of authorpreneurship.
Until next time, Keep on writing!
What ways to you keep yourself on track as a writer? What tips do you have for our readers? Do you have valuable self-study resources for me to include in my next post? Please share them in the comments below.
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Kris Maze writes for various publications including Practical Advice for Teachers of Heritage Learners of Spanish and award-winning blog Writers in the Storm where she is also a host.
She published a YA dystopian novel by a small press in the summer of 2020. Lately, she has been entering and placing in writing competitions, such as NYC Midnight’s Short Story and Micro-fiction contests. You can find her YA horror stories and keep up with her author events at her website.
Photo Credit: Kris Maze (with some help from Canva)