What's Your Ideal Writing Life? - Writer's Digest

What's Your Ideal Writing Life?

Every writer needs support and encouragement. Lynn Dickinson's advice will support and assist you in creating a powerful and useful writing tool – an effective Vision of your Ideal Writing Life.
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Every writer needs support and encouragement. Lynn Dickinson's advice will support and assist you in creating a powerful and useful writing tool – an effective Vision of your Ideal Writing Life.

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You know you should be writing more. Why aren’t you writing more?

You’ve got a great idea.

You could just write it down.

But you don’t.

You’re too busy. It’s not fully formed yet. You’re not sure what format you should use. Your computer is on the fritz. You’re waiting for inspiration. You need to do more research. Your mother-in-law is in town. You might be getting a cold. There’s candy to be crushed.

The dishes get washed. The laundry gets done. The TV gets watched. The oven gets scrubbed. The kids get put to bed. The candy gets crushed. The idea lingers. Not written down.

You tell yourself you will. You will write it down. Just… later. Not now. Later.

But later never comes.

Then one day you wonder, "How can I become a writer who writes?" and you begin to look around for inspiration.

I know the feeling well.

Hello. My name is Lynn, and I'm a recovering nonwriter.

Moving Beyond Writer's Block

Writer – Know Thyself

Unfortunately, there is no, “one size fits all,” when it comes to writing. Trying-out methods that work well for other writers is a great start, but ultimately it comes down to discovering which practices and strategies and methods and rituals work to get YOU writing – and then doing them.

Too often we hear of a successful writer who always carries a moleskin journal, obsessively making notes about the other riders on the bus; or who only writes on weekday afternoons in a certain cafe. Surely that writer knows what she is doing! So we rush to the nearest coffee house after a quick raid on the moleskin aisle at the local office supply store.

A few days or weeks later, when we realize we’ve stopped producing new work, do we judge the ritual as not appropriate for us? Rarely. More often, we judge ourselves for not having what it takes to be a “real writer.” We berate ourselves, feel badly about ourselves, and indulge in all manner of self-judgment and criticism. No wonder our subconscious mind steers us away from writing in general. The act of avoiding writing becomes a basic act of self-protection.

But when you come to know you, and can wholeheartedly embrace what works for you without apology, that writer within who has been suffering under the weight of your critical judgments all these years can finally be released. It’s a great feeling!

Listen to the new Writer's Digest Podcast!

A Place for Exploration and Encouragement

In the months to come, this column will help you explore you – and with any luck – will get you writing more than ever before. We’ll take a closer look at topics such as goal setting – how to do it well and how to do it badly, the differences between motivation and inspiration, intention and desire, and what to aim for in the first place. You’ll have a chance to try a few things on for size and see for yourself what works for you. There will be no judgments when something isn’t a great fit, but plenty of celebration and encouragement when something works, and you take yet another step toward living your ideal writing life.

If you know you’re not currently writing enough, that’s great! That means you’re self-aware and you’re ready to move from being a non-writing writer to writing more.

Trust me. You will like it.

Ready to unbind that writer within? Let’s begin!

Imagine Your Ideal Writing Life:

If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, it’s hard to know when you’ve hit the target. The most invigorating and least threatening place to begin is by envisioning your Ideal Writing Life. Envisioning the ideal is a practice that, if done right, is clarifying, energizing and inspiring – all of which are important ingredients in the cultivation of a successful, long-term writing practice.

So let’s get started.

Close your eyes and imagine your perfect writing life. What does it look like for you? Do you see yourself writing every day, first thing in the morning, and churning out a novel a month? Or maybe just writing two months a year in a secluded, lakeside cabin? Perhaps you would enjoy the occasional, well-attended writers retreat? Imagine yourself successfully writing in as much detail as you can.

Then open your eyes and create your Ideal Writing Life Vision on the page. Use the following tips to ensure this exercise is an uplifting, energizing, non-threatening, and effective step toward your ideal writing life.

The Secret to Finding Time to Write

Guidelines For Creating Your Powerful, Ideal Writing Life Vision:

  • Make your vision a heartfelt one – not a list of, “shoulds.” You’ll know you’ve nailed it when just thinking about your Ideal Writing Life Vision inspires you, and puts a smile on your face.
  • Keep it at around fifty percent believable. You’ll want to stretch, but not so much that you feel your ideal writing life is impossible.
  • Create it in the first person, present tense. If you write in future tense, that’s where your ideal writing life will always stay… in the future. Recently, a student of mine submitted an Ideal Writing Life Vision that began with this great present tense example: “I wake up bright and early every morning, filled with exciting new story ideas. I feel rested, refreshed, and eager to get started on my current work in progress.
  • Phrase your statements using positive language. Your subconscious mind will appreciate that. “I enjoy writing in peaceful solitude for an hour each day,” is a more psychologically-effective phrase than, “I don’t get interrupted when I’m writing.”
  • Include detail on all sensory levels. Energize your Ideal Writing Life Vision with sounds, smells, sights, and tastes to make it feel vivid and real.
  • Include aspects that touch on the Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual aspects of your writing practice. For example, within your Ideal Writing Life Vision: Where are you physically when you write? A modern, high-rise office? A busy neighborhood coffee shop? A secluded cabin in the woods? How do you stimulate yourself mentally? Reading yesterday’s work beforehand? Using three new vocabulary words per day in your writing? Reviewing your Ideal Writing Life Vision document when you wake up each day? How do you feel emotionally when you are writing? How about when you are done for the day? What does your writing practice do for your heart? Your spirit? Your peace of mind? Your degree of attunement to your inner world? Your flow of creativity? Your connection to others around you?
  • No Judgments! Make your Ideal Writing Life Vision as energized and positive as you can. Avoid letting that well-practiced, critical voice inside talk smack about you or your dreams during the course of this exercise.
  • Post it! Keep your Ideal Writing Life Vision someplace where you can see it regularly and re-read it often. Treat it as an important and special document. Give it the reverence you will ideally, soon be bringing to your writing practice itself.
  • Keep it alive! Allow your Ideal Writing Life Vision to become a dynamic, living document, one you can add to and modify at any time.

You CAN Do This!

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve read hundreds of heartfelt living visions written by people from all walks of life, and they always uplift and inspire me.

So go ahead and write your own Ideal Writing Life Vision. Have fun with it. Do it well and sink into it deeply. And when you are complete, you will have written something powerful.

Then share. What does your ideal writing practice look like?

In the comments below, I invite you to share one small element from your own personal Ideal Writing Life Vision. Just give us a taste of your perfect writing life. We can all use the inspiration!

Uh oh! Wait! Did you just notice that voice inside of you say you’re too scared? Too busy? Someone might laugh at you? You’ll do it later?

That’s okay. No judgments here. Be brave.

And do it anyway. Do it now. (Because later never comes, remember?)

This is you taking step one toward your Ideal Writing Life. And I applaud you!

I look forward to being inspired by your Ideal Writing Life Vision.

P.S. If you have a few minutes, please fill out this short survey to help me create better content for you. Thanks!

Get help finding writing time with Writer's Digest University's online course:
Fitting Writing Into Your Life

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