by Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer's Coach
This is the day we celebrate romantic love. But you know what they say – ”Before you can love someone else you must love yourself.”
With that in mind, instead of constantly beating yourself up because you aren’t yet a best-selling author or a 6-figure freelance writer, love writing and the writer’s life right now. Here are 14 ways to do that:
1. Write what you love.
If you earn a living as a freelance writer, you may get assignments for all sorts of writing projects. Many of these projects might not be that exciting for you. That’s okay. Just be sure you make time to also write about things you love.
2. Make writing a priority.
Most writers, particularly those who don’t write fulltime for a living, find it difficult to write on a regular basis. That’s because writing is the last thing on their to-do list, so it often gets overlooked. But if you make writing a priority, you won't constantly feel guilty because your writing always seems to get pushed to the sidelines.
3. Set obtainable goals for yourself.
If you don’t write regularly now, don’t suddenly set a goal to write for 1 hour 7 days a week for the next year. This is an impossible goal for most anyone. You won’t be able to reach this goal, and the first time you miss a writing session you’ll feel like a failure.
4. Hang out with other writers.
Join or start a local writer's group on meetup.com or simply join online groups for writers. Other writers know what you're going through. They'll be able to offer you advice and support that other people can't.
5. Spend time reading the type of work you wish to write.
Make regular reading time part of your writing schedule. Consider it part of your training. You’ll learn a lot from reading the work of other writers. Plus, you’ll enjoy it!
6. Learn your craft.
Do all you can to learn more about the type of writing you wish to do. Attend workshops. Take writing courses. Go to a writer’s conference at least once a year.
7. Set up a designated writing space.
Having your own “office” for writing automatically helps you and your family take your work more seriously. Plus, when you sit down at your desk, it signals your brain that it's time to get to work.
8. Set no more than 3 major writing/career goals at a time.
Writers tend to have dozens of ideas and projects they wish to complete. But it’s too hard to focus on this many projects at once. Set 3 or fewer goals at a time. Once you reach one goal, add another to your list.
9. Keep track of your writing and publication efforts. Get a spiral notebook and write down what you do each week to move your writing and your writing career forward. This will help you stay focused. Plus, once you see – on paper – the actions you've been taking consistently, you'll be motivated to continue taking action to reach your writing goals.
10. Stop comparing yourself to other writers. Every writer is unique, and while some writers experience immediate success, most writers slowly reach their goals. It might take you longer to reach your goals than it does some other writers, but so what?
11. Make sure your goals are things you have some control over. If you set goals like, "Get an article published in Smithsonian Magazine this year", you may be disappointed because you really have no control over something like that. It's better to set a goal like, "Get 3 query ideas ready to submit to Smithsonian Magazine this year" because you do have some control over that.
12. Learn to love the writing process. Many people who think they want to become writers don't really love to write. They just want to be published. Publication is great. But learn to enjoy the writing process itself, even if it can be agonizing at times. If you stick with it, your writing will get better and better. As it does, your confidence and self-esteem will grow, too.
13. Be Brave.
If you learn to love the writing process, publication will naturally follow. But you have to be brave enough to submit your work to publishers and editors. Don't wait to do this. Start with small local and regional publications. Enter contests that include publication as part of the prizes for winning entries. If you're serious about writing, it shouldn't take you long to get something published somewhere.
14. Celebrate both your small and large successes.
If you track your progress each week, celebrate both the small and large successes you'll experience. Simply sticking to your writing schedule for the week is something to celebrate. Getting an acceptance letter from a publisher is, of course, reason to celebrate, too.
These are just a few ways to start loving yourself as a writer and the writer's life right now.
Do you have other suggestions? Please share them with us as a comment.
Happy Valentine's Day!