When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the dream was beyond our reach.
~ Julia Cameron
You are a writer, and what you write is deserving, is worthy, is worthwhile. Your writing matters. You may not believe this fully. You may have only a small, tremulous suspicion that your words, your ideas, are valuable, but nonetheless, it’s true.
You must value your abilities and your creativity enough to allow yourself the time to work with them. Sure, there are soft, gray tumbleweeds of dust clustering in corners, there are dishes teetering in the sink, there’s shopping to be done and dinner to be made, there’s even a stack of important-looking papers you’ve schlepped home from the office – but if you truly want to write, all of that must play second fiddle to the moments you immerse yourself in writing, in reading and in searching for inspiration.
If you don’t value your writing enough to give it some priority in your life, you’re not honoring your creative needs, your hopes, your dreams, your desires. If you want to be a great writer, you have to treat yourself as if you’re already a great writer, regardless of whether you’ve ever been published or even finished anything, at all. In other words, you have to…
FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT
I understand that idle time may be scant. Uncovering moments that you can offer to your creative self can prove undeniably challenging – but it is possible. Mostly, it comes down to choices. Do you like to relax in the evening by watching a bit of television? Instead of your favorite drama or news show, search out author talks and readings online. Do you have a long work commute? Invest in a small recorder (or use your cell phone) and dictate while you drive. Do you read to your children every night? Put down the picture book and try making up your own stories, instead. Whenever you stumble upon a spare moment (your lunch hour, fidgeting in the dentist’s office before an appointment, waiting to pick up your daughter from soccer practice), use it to foster your writing. Make sure, as well, to carve out solitary time for sitting down with pen and paper.
Writers make time to write. You are a writer, therefore you make time to write. Simple as that. You must see yourself – and treat yourself – like the glorious and unique writer you are, even if you feel like the frumpiest and most peculiar writer that has ever lived, even if you feel like a desperate imposter in a writer’s coat and hat. You must value your gifts. You must honor your dreams. There’s really no other way.
Declare Yourself a Writer
Decide that you’re a writer. No, you may not be published yet, and you may only be able to work here and there. If you struggle with brain fog (like I do), you may not be able to hold onto a thought for more than a few moments, but you can still behave as a writer. Writers respect their writing time. They hold it sacred and let nothing interfere with its place in the schedule. They grant themselves time to wonder, time to dream, and time to read the works of others. Throughout the day, remind yourself that you’re a writer and that you deserve the writer’s life.
So Can You
Not all published authors are brilliant, expertly stringing words together, their sentences poised and perfect, their voices like bolts from the blue. Have you ever opened up a book, one published by a large publishing house, and thought, This is drivel; I could do a better job than this! Well, you’re probably right. Take an afternoon to visit a bookstore or library, pick up a few truly terrible looking books and flip through them. If they can be writers, so can you.
The Writer’s Life
Imagine yourself a writer living a writer’s life. What would your days look like? What would you spend your time doing? Sit back, close your eyes, and see yourself writing, see yourself sending off manuscripts, see yourself giving readings, and talking to publishers, and meeting with fellow writers. Now, how much of that life can you incorporate into the life you’re living now? You can give yourself time to write. You can send off the things you write, your fingers crossed. You can work on finding an agent. You can meet with other writers and organize readings of your new work. The writer’s life isn’t as far away and impractical as it seems.
Find the Time
Go through your daily schedule and search for small moments you can use to live your writing life. Can you read a chapter or two of a favorite author before bed? Can you spend ten minutes freewriting when you first wake up? Can you work on a writing prompt while the soup simmers or while getting your car’s oil changed? Instead of heading to a restaurant for your lunch hour, can you pack some leftovers and spend your time writing and munching on last night’s casserole?