A few weeks ago, I cited a guest post by Noelle Sterne on Writer's Digest about acting like a writer if you want to be or call yourself a writer. The post is fantastic, and I highly recommend that you read through it for inspiration and motivation, if you have a few minutes.
The best posts start people thinking, and Sterne's take has been on my mind lately. What steps can I take --- could anybody take, really --- to ensure that you're taking your writing as seriously as it deserves?
Here are some of my ideas. Feel free to contribute, or disagree, or proffer feedback or input in other forms!
6. Stay hydrated.
If you're not at your best, there's no way your writing will be at its best. When I'm dehydrated, which happens way more than it should, I have a hard time concentrating on even the simplest things, and as anybody who takes writing seriously knows, writing is anything but simple. Do yourself a favor and make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day.
5. Move around.
Writing can be a very sedentary business. You're chained to a desk, conducting phone interviews, sending emails, drafting your novel, editing a client's project, compiling a chapbook. But the more you sit, experts say, the more at risk you can be for a lot of health issues. Try getting up and moving around for five minutes out of every half hour or so. Run up and down the stairs. Stand while making phone calls. You'll find your focus improved, too.
4. Get organized.
You know your writing style and your personality. (Trust me, the two go hand in hand.) How do you best stay organized and on top of all your writing goals? Need a huge desk calendar and brightly colored pens and highlighters? Or a particular filing system? Something online or on your computer that sends you reminders? Do you prefer to leave all your papers and notebooks laying all over so you can see them at all times? Whatever your style is, make sure it's effective for you and that it's aiding your efforts, not detracting from them.
3. Make space.
Do you work best in an office setting, whether home or corporate? Perhaps you like a lot of white noise around you, so you need to work in a coffee shop or restaurant that offers WiFi access. Maybe you need a weekend getaway to a hotel room where you can shut the door, unplug the TV and phone, set up your laptop, and get to work. Do you need a lot of light? Music? Silence? A plush chair? An overhead reading lamp? A corner desk with shelves in reach? A lap desk? Make it happen to encourage as much writing as possible.
2. Dress for success.
I don't know about you, but when I show up at my desk, I can't get to work unless I've dressed the part. Sure, if you work from home, it feels a little weird to dress up in slacks, a color-coordinated blouse, cute shoes, and pearls with your hair twisted up, but trust me, it makes all the difference in the world. Suddenly, you feel more focused, better able to concentrate and get actual work done. If you've found a way to accomplish the same amount of work in your slippers and sweatpants, I admire you. For the rest of us, business casual may be the formula for success.
1. Create routine.
A routine, consistently performed, can serve to get you into the right mindset for focused work in a hurry. If you need lit candles, a fresh pot of coffee, a carafe of water and a clean glass, or five minutes first to check your email, make that part of your routine. Structure into your morning a walk, a light breakfast, a browse through your favorite blogs, and ten minutes to warm up with a random writing prompt, if that's what it takes. Consistency will be your friend. I promise!