8 Tips For the Unpaid Writer

I have a confession to make. I know you’re probably tired of hearing me say that, but this one is important: I haven’t been writing.

I feel like I need a shower after that…

It is true. Outside of the columns I have written for you lovely people, I haven’t written a word. I haven’t made any progress on my next e-book. It hit me the other day, and I almost wanted to cry, because I finally realized why I have been so unhappy lately. Because I haven’t been writing.

In my defense, it was not my first choice. Between working a full-time job, setting up this blog, going to school full-time, and still sleeping at some point, something was bound to fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, that something turned out to be what I love the most.

But these things happen, right? Tell me I am not the only one out in the universe who has fallen into a rut like this, because I can’t be. There is an end, though.

I have recommitted to this love of mine, and I won’t step out on him again. That I can promise you.

So, I am here to give you a few tips to work writing into your schedule before it gives you the ability to quit your day job.

  1. Buy a planner. Trust me on this, you will not regret it! I used to live for planners when I was in high school to keep track of assignments, but I stopped using them after graduation. Now that I am juggling so many different things at once, they are a necessity for me. In fact, I have two. One is a monthly planner that I use to plan my days. The other is a desktop pad that has weekly pages. I use that one for my to-do lists. They will help you stay on track and make sure you can get everything done that you need to in a day.
  2. Prioritize. What is more important to you: watching Netflix or writing a page or two in your novel? There will be sacrifices to make, but that does not mean that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. If entertainment such as Netflix or satellite television is a major distraction for you, use it as a reward. Don’t allow yourself TV time until you have written X amount. You have to find a window that works for you. For me, that means getting up at 5 A.M. to write before work.
  3. Carry a notebook with you. If you hate notebooks, get a note app on your phone. Just make sure that you always have a way to record any inspiration that comes your way. On the bus, on your lunch break, grab as many minutes as you can throughout your day. By the time you get to your window, your creative juices are already flowing, and you’ll be ready to go when you sit down at your computer.
  4. Allow yourself time to get reacquainted with your world. Depending on how long it has been since you penned something, you may need some time just to review what you were working on. (This is also where step 3 comes in. If you are early on in the process, all you have to review is notes, but if you don’t have them recorded somewhere, how are you supposed to review. (Just imagine for a second if J.K. Rowling never had that first napkin. I don’t want to imagine a world without Harry Potter, do you?) Don’t beat yourself up if you have to. That gem is still in your mind somewhere; it just may take some digging to find.
  5. Find somewhere where you won’t be distracted. This is crucial. You have done the work up until this point, you have forced yourself out of bed at some awful hour, but if you are not somewhere secluded and private, you will not be as productive as you could be. Find a corner in your house or go to the local coffee shop, whatever helps you focus on your work like a laser.
  6. Don’t be afraid to steamroll right through it. Your first priority is to get the story on paper. Don’t worry about perfect spelling or grammar. Just plow right through your first draft. You can always go back and flesh it out later.
  7. Build yourself a network. Creative people are often lonely, but it doesn’t have to be the case. Find people who love to write just as much as you do, people who can act as your sounding board and give you feedback, people who will encourage you to keep doing what you love.
  8. Finally, the most important step. STOP BEATING YOURSELF UP, AND JUST DO IT! I wrote that it in capital letters because it is that important. You have to stop beating yourself up because you didn’t write one day. You are human, you are going to mess up. Accept that now, and when you do, you will be able to just let it go and move on. So what if you didn’t write one day? Sit down and make up for it the next day. Life is going to get in the way at times, but you can’t let it get in the way all the time. Make the choice, make it happen, because I promise you that once you put your mind to, nothing in heaven or earth could stop you from doing what you set out to do.


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