Help in getting back to writing - from people who've been there.
by Adam G. Fleming
We get it. There are a variety of reasons why you might have been writing and stopped. We’ve seen them all:
Don’t take it from me. I’m no Kurt Vonnegut. I’m not famous or rich (or dead). I am from Indiana and I’m a writer, so Kurt and I have those two things in common. I respect what Kurt said:
“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
Taking a note from Vonnegut: it’s not a way to make a living. If you’ve been discouraged from writing because someone said you’ll never make money at it, fine. Get a job as a greeter at a big box store if you must, but start writing again. It’s good for your soul.
I’m a writer because I write, because writing is a worthy journey for my soul to take. Not because I’m good at it, or because I get paid for it. Even when I’m not writing at any given moment, or even for a week or two, I’m still a writer because writing is in my blood. Come up with your own statement about how you are a writer regardless of whether you wrote something good or important or decent or anything at all.
In Step Two and Step Three (below), I have highlighted several areas of your life that you can control, so keep reading!
Credit to my friend Michael Lee of the Innotivity Institute, who loves to talk about the need for safety when we begin to do innovative and creative work. Michael is currently editing my most important work, an alternative history novel I’ve been working on for about ten years. The only way I’ve gotten this far on my seminal book is creating (and recreating) safe space, safe time, and a safe mind.
Find a place to write where it’s okay to make mistakes, to explore without needing to be perfect, to relax and have fun. The place where I do my coaching and budgeting and editing and all the things which require me to make decisions quickly and accurately is not the place where I write novels. For you, this might be a recliner, a desk in your attic, or a coffee shop where you don’t know anybody (or where you can politely decline to engage in conversation).
One of the biggest questions you’ll have to answer is, “What will you give up in order to write?” And that means something that consumes your time, especially high-energy time when you can be at your most creative. When I’ve coached people around this question I often find that they say they need to get up earlier, and when I probe deeper, that means they’ll have to give up watching a favorite show in the evening so they can go to bed earlier. But your highest-energy time might be noon, or the evening, so there’s no one-size-fits-all remedy. Put your writing time on your calendar and keep your appointment. This is safe time.
We believe that each person has a voice that deserves to be heard, a story that can impact humanity. We believe that you are responsible to take good care of that voice, and we are here to support you as you get back on track as a writer. Want to start writing again? Let us know about it. We want to cheer you on!
Adam G. Fleming, PCC, is an ICF certified coach and trainer. He has trained people in coaching skills around the world and has also led other seminars as speaker and facilitator. Using both traditional and DIY methods, Adam has published 13 books in a variety of genres, and serves as the CEO and lead ghostwriter for Victory Vision Publishing, Inc. He lives in Goshen, Indiana, with his wife Megan and their four children. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.