Friday, May 20, 2016

Storyteller's Journey

The Tides of a Writer's Life
The life of a writer can be lonely, yet beautiful; risky, yet powerful; and, scary, yet exhilarating. Like an ocean, it has its spontaneity, while also having predictable tides.

My life as a full-time writer is nearing the ten-year mark, and as I reflect I am pleasantly reminded that one thing the life of a writer does not include (at least for me), is boredom. I have never felt more alive.

If you can't say the same about your life as a writer, here are a few suggestions - some easy, some more challenging - that might help:

1- Attend a writing conference or retreat. Nearly every writing event I've ever attended has at the very least offered me a huge amount of inspiration. That inspiration has always fueled me for months past the event I attended. This is the season for conferences, so don't miss out. I'll be attending a small writers' retreat the third week of July, and then the Willamette Writers Conference in August in Portland, Oregon. (If you feel you can't afford to attend an organized event, check out my blog post next Friday when I discuss planning an in-home retreat!)

2- Make some practical changes. Change when or where you write. If you're a morning writer, try writing in the afternoon. While that might seem strange, that's when I write! Clean your desk, purchase some new writing supplies, or even a new laptop if needed. Begin a new project if you feel like your W.I.P is getting to be like yesterday's news.

3- Start a blog. Many writers are bloggers, but some find blogging a drudgery. I love it! I require some structure in my journey as a writer. Like the ocean, I like having some predictable tides in my life. Blogging teaches you discipline, organization, and is good practice at putting your writing out there. You can also meet other writers!

4- Receive feedback. Become an active member of a critique group;
if you're already a member of one, consider the services of an editor.
I recently hired an editor and her comments were a huge boost to my writing. One way or the other, we all need feedback.

5- Submit an article, short story, or manuscript. If you've been a serious writer for more than a few years, and have never submitted your work, it's time! While it might seem scary, it's part of the learning process. Even if your work is not accepted, you'll no doubt gain an invaluable education from submitting. It's just part of being a writer.

6- Publish independently. If you're a seasoned writer and have a manuscript that's been critiqued, edited, and submitted (numerous times) but you still cannot find it a home, consider publishing independently. I am an independently published author and have received numerous benefits from that experience. (That topic could be a blog post all on its own!) The biggest benefit I received from seeing my book in print was confidence. While I am still seeking an agent (for a different manuscript) I benefitted big time from going through the publishing process - in so many ways.

7- Keep moving forward! This point is the most important on my list. In the last decade I've met dozens of writers - some of them have been writing all their lives. Unfortunately, few of them have ever submitted their work. There are probably numerous reasons for that, but I am sure one big reason is fear. They might say, "Oh, I'm a perfectionist, my work isn't ready yet." Well, when? The worst thing you can do as a writer is to go around in circles. Truly living life requires forward motion.

While we all need to keep moving forward, we also need predictable tides in our lives. The above list can be used by both a novice writer & a veteran writer. These seven tips are tasks we all need to keep in mind - no matter where we're at along our own storyteller's journey.

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