Make 2015 your year to write (Part four!)

Welcome back to the Make 2015 Your Year to Write series. 

If you’re just joining us, here’s what we’ve been up to: In our we began with part one, on reflecting on your writing life so far, then in part two looked at your patterns, challenges, and insights, and in part three began tapping in to what you want for your writing life.

Today in part four, we’ll look at how to close the gap between where you are right now and where you want to end up so you can start making real plans for how to get there.

Remember, if you have questions, thoughts, challenges, comments, or problems, I’m your coach this week! Just post them in the comments section on the blog and I’ll be sure to address or answer them for you. (And if you’re joining us “late” in this process, not to worry, just jump in, the water’s fine. :) )

On to part four!

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Examine the gap in your writing life

Whenever we have a goal we want to meet or a place we want to end up, there is a certain amount of distance between now and then, or here and there. 

Since we spent some time looking at where you want to GO in our part three work, now we can take a clearer look at what’s currently in the way of you getting there.

For instance, you might be bumping into a whole variety of obstacles like:

  • Being too busy or not having enough time to write
  • Having too many other obligations with work and family
  • Dealing with the kinds of creative or life challenges we talked about in part two
  • Trying to “find” time to write instead of making it happen
  • Getting caught up in other people’s needs or drama

But you might also be need to make changes about the way you are approaching your writing life.

You might right now be:

  • Not setting strong boundaries to protect your writing time
  • Not making writing one of your topmost priorities (It really needs to be in the top 3 to 5 to become a reality.)
  • Thinking about your writing in a negative way
  • Creating fantasies about what you need to write instead of just writing
  • Constantly debating about “IF” you are going to write each day instead of being clear about “WHEN”

When we look closely at these we can see that some of these are things we need to remove from our writing lives, while others might be things that we can add. Both would have a positive result in our ability to write more, or consistently.

So think about what you’ve learned from the last few days of exploration and then answer these questions: 

1. What do you want to remove from your writing life?

When you think about things you might want to remove from your writing life to make it flow more easily, what comes to mind? 

For instance, you might notice that you feel ready to let go of:

  • Extra obligations that have outworn their welcome, like the volunteer job that’s not fulfilling anymore, or social commitments you don’t feel nurtured by
  • Limiting beliefs about your ability to write
  • Outdated relationships with people who don’t hold your writing in high esteem
  • Excuses and stories about why you can’t write
  • Unprofessional writing relationships and groups
  • Writing projects that have outworn their welcome
  • Bad writing habits like perfectionism or binge-writing

2. What do you want to add to your writing life?

On the other hand, sometimes the gap can be closed when you start adding things in to your writing life, like:

  • A regular, daily writing practice
  • Boundaries that teach people to respect your writing time
  • Urgency and deadlines so you feel motivated to write daily and to finish projects consistently
  • A writing schedule, as in, on an actual calendar with actual times where you will show up and write
  • Accountability and support from people who know how much writing means to you and help you show up and actually do it
  • A writing community of friends who believe in you and support you to make it happen, day in and day out
  • A special place to write in your home, your office, or elsewhere
  • Making a life decision to treat your writing professionally
  • The proper tools and training

Again, there are no right answers here, only what fits best for you. Take some time with the writing prompts today to see what no longer fits for you and what might be a welcome change.

Here are some responses from my Writer’s Circle members:

From Helen, a Writer’s Circle member:

“This year, I added what I wanted to add: A positive, loving, caring support group that positively encourages my progress. This is your Writer’s Circle coaching group, Jenna. What I wish to remove is the negativity that comes from my current academic environment. Constant negative criticism and nagging do little to motivate me; on the contrary, they usually block my creativity and desire to write.”

From Sonya, another Writer’s Circle member:

“I’ve spent the last year in Jenna’s coaching and writing circle. I chose to do it after listening to her four-session course, ‘Design Your Writing Life’. It inspired me to get my writing act together, so to speak. I had been writing sporadically for my own blog, without a real purpose other than to share information and practical advice. I wanted to get more consistent about writing and find a more sustainable writing habit.

“Over the year, I have written a lot more, and a lot more consistently but it has still been what I call sporadic. I’d like to remove this sporadic behavior from my life. I’d like to get into an even more consistent, regular writing habit. I’d like to add writing time that is sacred. I have not been holding writing time sacred. I have been running it over with a Mack truck on a regular basis. That needs to stop. I need to be more consistent and sit down and write, every day, no matter what. No matter for how long.

“I have this unrealistic picture in the back of my mind of having a tiny house in my back yard and having it totally devoted to my own creativity (really, a room of one’s own), for writing, music, quilting, sewing, scrapbooking, photography. It’s about a $10K investment to do this through a friend’s company who makes them. I don’t have an extra $10K lying around to use for this purpose so I currently tend to sit at the kitchen table or on the couch to write. I know I should find a writing space in my home and write in that spot consistently. But to date, I haven’t been able to get comfortable in any space to write consistently. 

“I also don’t like to write when others are around so I tend to do other things when I have my kids (every other week). All of these things feel like excuses, one after another. I need to stop making excuses and just do the writing.

“I guess what it comes down to is that I want to remove excuses from my (writing) life and add an attitude of ‘write anyway’ to my life.”

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pen coffeeWriting prompts for Part four: Close the gap

Now it’s your turn. Here are your writing prompts for today. You can write about then in your journal, discuss them with your writing buddies, or just mull them over when you have a quiet moment. Then if you’re inspired to do so, please share your responses and/or insights in the comments section on the blog. Free to leave questions for me too, if you have them.

  • What do you want to remove from your writing life?
  • What do you want to add to your writing life?

And don’t miss tomorrow’s installment, where we’ll tune into the vision for your longer term writing career. It’ll be fun and inspiring! See you then. :)

 

 

 

 

Make 2015 your year to write (Part one!)

Welcome to the Make 2015 Your Year to Write series! Now that the holidays are behind us, it’s that time of year where we are naturally drawn to look ahead to the coming year and dream about and plan for what we want to accomplish. As writers, of course, our focus is on our intentions, goals, and visions for our writing.

But not so fast! There are a few — and often overlooked — steps to help you to set your goals in such a way as to assure your success.

Over the next seven days, I’ll be sharing seven articles with you about the key steps you can take to make 2015 your writing year to remember.

Each article includes a set of simple writing prompts that you can complete on your own or here on the blog in the comments section.

Throughout the week, I’ll be your on-the-spot writing coach, so if you have questions, thoughts, challenges, comments, insights, or issues, just post them in the comments section on the blog and I’ll be sure to address or answer them for you.

Today we’ll get started by reflecting on your writing life.

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Reflect on your writing life so far

We start with reflection to first establish the foundation of where you are and where you’ve been. 

This is important because most of us have a tendency to focus purely on the goals and resolutions we’re setting for the new year and what’s next, but skip right over the realities of what’s happened for us this year and what our current writing life looks like. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for pie-in-the-sky goals that have a less-than-likely chance of succeeding. And we want you to succeed, right? ;)

So first, to begin this process together, we’ll look at where you are right now, and where you’ve been, before we move on to what’s next. 

You can call this “completion” work if you like.

We’ll do this by answering a series of three simple questions, starting with:

1. What has your writing given you?

First, we’ll start by having you look at what your writing has given you. What gifts it has brought to your life, and what opportunities?

While you think about this, think back over 2014, and also your writing life as a whole.

For example, when you think about the trajectory your writing life has taken, are you enjoying it? Are you happy with the track you’re on, or feeling dissatisfied? What has being a writer brought to your life that you would not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience? 

I’ve reached out to my Writer’s Circle participants (and included notes from my own insights) to share their thoughts with us as we go through this process together:

From my notebook:

“In the last year of writing, my writing has given me a way to stay connected to myself. As a mom of now two children, one born this year, having this way to know who I am outside of motherhood has been a safety anchor for me. Sleep deprivation, breastfeeding, and the all-encompassing 24/7 nature of the job of “mother” can be entirely overwhelming, and though it has been hard at times, I’ve been grateful to have this special thing called “writing” that is entirely my own.

Writing has also strengthened me. I have a stronger ability to focus. My trust in my own creative process has grown. My understanding of myself through my writing has expanded exponentially. I’m continually learning, growing, improving and expanding my ability to write well, to write more clearly in my own voice, and to write in a such a way that feels both faster and freer.”

From Helen, a Writer’s Circle member: 

“My writing is mostly scholarly/academic. I noticed that while I am writing on a particular topic, then I usually feel more knowledgable about the topic after I have completed the paper. As this knowledge grows, I plan to become a Subject Matter Expert on my various topics of interest.”

 

2. What are you most proud of?

While you’re contemplating your relationship with your writing, also ask yourself, what are you most proud of? 

Here again, it’s worth looking at both this current year and your writing life so far.

And please, don’t be hard on yourself. If you have a hard time coming up with something you feel proud of, see where you can stretch your awareness. There is always something to be proud of, even if it’s something like, “I always kept my goal to be writing at the forefront of my mind.” Or, “I am crystal clear that writing must be a high priority for me 2015.”

From Tracee, a screenwriter and Writer’s Circle coach:

“Somehow, despite life and Facebook, I managed to write four screenplays this year! In the past, I was lucky if I wrote one in a year. I am quite proud of that but I am even more proud of creating a writing life that allowed for such an accomplishment.” 

From Sonya, a Writer’s Circle member:

“I am most proud of having done the coaching and Writer’s Circle for a full year. Even with my divorce and money troubles, I made this a priority. I want to continue to do so for 2015.”

 

3. What did you accomplish with your writing this year?

One of the biggest mistakes we tend to make as writers is to keep our eyes only on how much further there is to go, without remembering to take stock of what we have accomplished and completed.

For this question, we want you to examine what you accomplished, regardless of how big or small.

Take an inventory.

How many words, pages, books, scripts, blog posts, etc., did you write? What did you put out into the world with your writing? Are there intangible things you accomplished with your writing?

Take the time to look back over 2014 and make notes about what you’ve accomplished. 

From my notebook:

“This year, I’ve kept writing even in the midst of having a new baby. I’ve kept up my blog, with both my own posts and guest posts, rewritten, recorded, and released my Design Your Writing Life series, completed numerous assignments for the screenwriting classes I’ve been taking, completed a rewrite of my first script, generated over 165 concepts for new script ideas, developed an outline for a brand new script, and started writing pages for the new script. I’m thrilled about it too, considering I was wickedly sick at the beginning of the year, and navigated through both a rocky third trimester, a birth, and still allowed for lots of bonding time with our new little boy.”

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Your writing prompts for part one: Reflection

pen coffeeSo here they are, our questions for the day, assembled in one place for your writerly convenience. Take these writing prompts to your journal to consider them, copy-paste and write out your answers in the comments section on the blog, mull them over when you have a quiet moment, or chat about them with your writer friends. 

  • What has your writing given you this year?
  • What are you most proud of?

  • What did you accomplish with your writing this year?

And lest you feel unsatisfied with not looking at things left undone or that feel otherwise troublesome, don’t worry, we’ll tackle that question tomorrow when we focus on the writing patterns, challenges, and any regrets you’re facing.

“See” you then!