There is almost nothing better than realizing you’ve finally figured it out.
No, not your fastest winter commute route, not your true calling or the perfect blend of milk, sugar and coffee for your homemade latte (well, maybe you’ve figured all those things out – kudos to you).
I’m talking about your writing process. The perfect routine that has made you the most productive, fulfilled, maybe even the happiest you have ever been since you decided you wanted to be a writer.
A writer, at least from what I can tell based on my own experience, will hit these points in their writing life multiple times. It’s that week you accidentally work 60 hours and don’t even feel it because you’re writing and you’ve dreamed of this since forever. It’s that Saturday you wake up, intending to write for an hour or so before taking the rest of the weekend off – but instead you encounter a rush of creativity and end up writing until it’s suddenly dark out again.
Unfortunately, a writer will hit these points in their writing life just as often as things will fall apart. As much as you would love to continue on the way things are, life just doesn’t work like that. Things change. Not just externally – major life events that sometimes force you to hit the pause button on even your most fulfilling creative projects – but internally as well. Suddenly you can’t wake up at 4 a.m. like you used to. You can’t concentrate on the subway anymore. When you get home from work, you’re often too tired to spend your evenings writing. Saturdays become unproductive, at least in a creative sense.
I have a feeling this stops many writers from pursuing their greatest ambitions. As much as they would love to keep at it, the world spins too fast, and there no longer seems to be enough time; enough energy; enough drive to work as hard as they once did on something so uncertain.
This happens because things change, but many neglect to change their processes along with life’s twists and turns. In college I used to wake up at 3 in the morning so I had time for homework, extracurriculars and writing. I would love to be able to continue to do that, but I found out pretty soon after graduating that I could no longer handle it. I had to shift my entire routine to make room for writing and come to terms with the fact that my mind and body demanded more sleep. Even if it meant rearranging my entire life to make writing fit, I knew I had to do it. And I did. I still do. If I tried to keep everything the same as my life shifted, I would have to give up writing completely, because it does not work the same way now, in terms of timing and efficiency, as it has in the past.
As writers, we evolve. Once a night owl, you may now find that you get most of your writing done before 8 a.m. – because that is now what works best for you. While you used to completely despise outlines, now you depend on them to keep all your projects organized and moving forward.
There is no rule that says what works for you right now has to continue to work for you forever. As you grow, you have to be willing to let your writing processes shift around to accommodate that. Physically; emotionally; mentally. You are not the same person you once were. You are not the same writer you once were. Change is a sign of growth. Embrace it. Use it to your advantage. Whatever you need to do to keep writing, do it. Especially if it’s what you want, if it fills you up, if you need it, as many of us do.
If what you’re trying to do now isn’t working, don’t give up writing. Sit down and figure out how to make writing fit comfortably into your life again. If you have to give up something unessential along the way – weeknight TV, or going out to dinner twice a week – do it. If writing means that much to you, you will make room for it in your life. Trust me.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.