Contrary to the popular expression, time does not fly, especially as you get older. No, time is a twenty ton freight train tearing down a set of railroad tracks at an abominable rate. This past year, I realized the uncomfortable truth — that train is never going to slow down.
Over the past twelve months, in an effort to make the most of my time, I have made an active effort to live a life of writing. Prior to that time, I journaled extensively and wrote a few incomplete short stories here and there, never really having a focus on my writing goals. In late 2017, I realized that time was slipping away from me, and I was tired of putting writing on the back burner of my life. I schedule time for work, for friends, for families, but why wasn’t I devoting that energy to writing? I finally decided to buckle down to produce not only more writing, but writing with a purpose.
What did I do differently? The most important change I made was to stop viewing writing as a solo adventure and to instead, write in the company of friends. When I stopped thinking of writing as something I did holed up in my room, writing became more of a social activity during which I actually accomplished more than if I were working alone.
Some fellow writers and I formed a writing group in Asheville and met at least once a week to write in the same shared space. We met at coffee shops and spent a few hours working on our individual works. Each of us had our own aspirations for how we wanted to improve our writing. Some members wanted to complete novels, others wanted to create a more consistent writing habit. I made a choice to focus on actually completing pieces and submitting them to online magazines and literary journals, mostly using the site Submittable.
In mid-2018, I had a small success getting a creative non-fiction essay accepted by Hippocampus Magazine and published on its site. This publication, while seemingly minor to some, was a huge moment for me because it was the first time I had been paid for my writing. As of now, a few of my short fiction stories are still in pending status with other online publications.
As it is nearing the end of the year, I am considering ways that I can continue to focus on my writing in 2019 and to become more deeply involved in the writing world. So far, I have a few things on my list:
Begin (and maintain!) a blog
Starting a blog has been on my to-do list for some time now. I plan to use this format to share my personal writing journey with you, including sharing writing strategies that have worked for me and ways that I am working to be more connected to writing.
Enroll in an editing certification course
I stumbled across the Poynter ACES Certificate in Editing and am considering spending the $75 for a certificate. I am hoping a certification will help beef up my resumé and hopefully offer extra skills for, at the very least, editing my own work and possibly editing the work of others.
Devote one evening a week to writing with others
I just recently moved to a new town and looking for a local writing group, I joined a Meetup group. Through this group I met three other writers in the area. The organizer is a writer with her own editing business and the other two members are mystery writers. We will be meeting every other week to write together and to offer feedback on one another’s work. On the weeks we won’t be meeting, I plan to drop into the Shut Up and Write meetings which are also offered through Meetup. These meetings are what they sound like: writers come together, set a timer, and basically shut up and put words to paper (or to computer screen, as the case may be).
Writing groups give me a sense of accountability that I unfortunately do not possess on my own. When I know other writers will be asking about my work each week, I am more inclined to focus. They are also great supports for bouncing off plot ideas and swapping information about writing conferences and events around your area.
Do you have any other tips for incorporating more writing into your life? Or maybe you have experienced challenges when trying to do so? Leave a comment below – I would love to hear from you!