I’m a busy person. I’m not one of those people who likes talking about it (if you’re curious about my thoughts regarding our busyness-praising culture, I’m sure a post about that will pop up somewhere in the near future). But I’m not just “busy.” I’m productive. I write. A lot.
For some reason, that’s the only thing I seem to be good at: writing a lot. I know some of you really struggle with trying to get more writing done. So as I’m working on finishing up a project for grad school (stress, stress, stress), I wanted to take a little time and share my process with you. My hope is that maybe you will be able to take bits and pieces of it and apply it to your own writing process.
So here’s how I do what I do.
I work a little bit on everything, every day
Every day I basically do the same thing: write 2,000 words of a Novella Concept project (if I happen to be working on one that week), write 1,000 words for a different creative writing project for a client, write a few hundred words of my novel (I need to work on bumping that number up, it’s a bit of a struggle right now) and anywhere from four to eight articles for clients. I occasionally guest contribute here and there depending on how much homework I have to do.
Basically, I do a little bit of everything.
It took a few months for me to finally settle into a routine here. Does it get boring sometimes, always doing the same thing? Oh yeah. That’s why I mix it up sometimes with podcasting and videos. I do things I’m good at and things I’m not good at it. I experiment, to keep myself entertained, honestly. I make sure I’m giving everything at least a little bit of attention. You’re not technically supposed to do this, but it works for me, and that’s really all that matters at this point in my “career.”
I keep track of ideas, progress and completed projects
So I have this Google Doc. I first created it in January of this year. In it I keep track of every article I pitch, write and publish. I also keep track of my daily progress when writing my novellas. If a pitch gets rejected, I use that running list of places I’ve written for to see if it might fit anywhere else. If I have a new idea for a thing, that’s where I write it down. Literally everything having to do with my creative projects lives in that Doc, except the projects themselves.
The only way I can juggle everything is by keeping track. Otherwise I would pretty much lose track of everything and completely neglect someone waiting on me to pitch more stories. It really helps to be able to write down an idea for an article, scroll up a few pages and think, “Ah, that might be a good idea for this publication,” and drop it there for future reference. Again, this is what works for me. Some would probably be driven completely bonkers by this method.
Everything I do aligns with my goals and mission statement
I would not be involved in the things I’m involved in if I didn’t have a good reason for doing so. Over the past year I have realized something important: I’m really not in college anymore. I can’t function on only a few hours of sleep. I cannot subject myself to too much stress at once or I get sick. I am skilled enough at what I do that I don’t have to agree to do everything for free because of exposure. If I do something, it’s because it fits in with my mission.
I hate how that sounds on the surface. If you knew me, you would know I’m not a selfish person. I am on a mission to help people learn to live smarter, healthier lives. That is my mission statement and basically my brand. It’s everywhere, on all my social profiles, etc. My “goal” is to help people do a sort of specific, sort of broad thing. Sometimes I write about productivity. Sometimes I write about mushy relationship stuff. I write about health when I can – it’s a competitive market. Just because it isn’t about health specifically doesn’t mean I’ll turn it down. If it still helps people, that’s all that matters to me.
Yes, there’s a lot of coffee-drinking and video-watching and running and other things wedged in-between there, but that’s pretty much my life. It took a lot of “writing for exposure” to get here. I interned (wrote and edited for free) with an online magazine for almost three years before I ever landed any freelance work. I’m not an exceptional writer. I don’t try to be. I have things to say and specific ways I want to help people through writing. Maybe that’s the key. Don’t try to be the best. Just write. See where it takes you. Push yourself sometimes; other times, let yourself rest.
I’d love to hear about your writing process. Do you work on multiple things at once, or one thing at a time? What’s your next big project? As always, any questions/concerns, compose your words of wisdom below!
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.
Image courtesy of iStock.