What Would It Take to Write Everything You Ever Wanted to Write?

What would it take?

I stand in the shower with my eyes closed letting the hot water hit me. It always clears my head. It always forces me to spend time alone with my thoughts, to confront them and acknowledge their existence.

From these moments almost always comes an idea, if not several. We don’t call them “shower thoughts” for nothing. When there is nowhere else to turn, we face our ideas head-on. Almost as if we are giving them permission to approach, and all the chances in the world to show us what they are capable of.

Ideas are the most thrilling when you don’t go looking for them. I don’t stand in the shower expecting an idea to appear — there are plenty of much more important reasons for maintaining adequate hygiene. But I won’t lie and say I’m not pleasantly surprised when I do encounter an idea I can’t refuse.

There is only one problem with this phenomenon — literally forcing yourself into a box in which you have no choice but to allow new ideas to flow into your head for at least 10 to 15 minutes at a time.

At some point, it starts to feel as though there are too many ideas, and not enough time to give each and every one of them the attention they deserve.

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How to Make Time For Writing Outside Your Day Job: A Quick Guide

It’s not easy. But it IS possible.

I am no stranger to the many obstacles writers with day jobs face on the regular.

At the moment, I am living with four other people and a one-year-old husky (who still acts like a puppy and I love her very much anyway). There are moments I have to lock myself in the bathroom just to get away from the distractions and the noise long enough to write a blog post or an article or a few paragraphs of the first draft of a book.

This is after I have spent all day doing work that does not allow much spare time for writing on the side. Add on to that the fact that I am mostly editing and writing headlines, which uses up a lot of brain power, and it’s easy to understand why there are nights I don’t even want to look at my work. I just want to go to bed.

It’s possible to make time for writing when you work all day and have a family and other things going on that need your attention.

It’s not easy. But it’s possible. I’m writing this post right now even though there’s a barking dog and an obnoxious movie and hammering going on in the background.

I’m making time. You can, too. Here are my suggestions for how.

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Don’t Let Your Confidence Issues Stop You From Writing

Don’t do it!

When you sit down to write and the words don’t come out the way you want them to — or they don’t come out at all — do you know why?

Sometimes you’re just tired or stressed or overwhelmed and aren’t in the right headspace for writing. That’s completely understandable. But other times there are things going on inside your head that aren’t as easy to recognize — therefore making them that much harder to work through.

Of all the barriers that writers face when trying to do work and achieve their goals, issues with confidence, fear, and self-doubt are some of the most common.

While it’s important and helpful to acknowledge that you are having a hard time writing because you lack confidence, it’s even more important not to let yourself use this as an excuse for not getting your work done.

We do this a lot without realizing it — letting a problem become an excuse instead of seeking out a solution that allows us to keep writing. But there are already so many things in your everyday life that are going to try blocking your productivity — many of them completely out of your control. Don’t let the barriers you CAN do something about continue standing in your way.

Can a writer who isn’t confident become more confident? How — and why does it matter?

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14 Things No One Ever Tells You About Having a Blog

We don’t talk about these things enough.

1. Starting is hard. Continuing is harder.

2. Just because “everybody’s doing it” doesn’t mean you can’t stand out.

3. It’s actually sometimes better to blog about things for a very specific “niche” audience when you’re first starting out.

4. You don’t technically have to have everything all planned out before you dive in. You can just start.

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Let Go Of That Story You Can’t Stop Running Back To

Just let go.

Returning to an unfinished story again and again is risky for many reasons.

Many writers keep coming back to what’s familiar simply because it’s familiar. They don’t want to explore new worlds or get to know new people or make new discoveries. Or, more accurately, they’re hesitant or afraid to.

A comfort zone will do that to you, you know. Keep you locked into the safety and warmth of the only home you have ever known.

There is nothing wrong with loving a story. There is nothing wrong with being proud of what you have created.

But sometimes, it’s time to let go.

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To Quit Writing Would Be So Easy, Wouldn’t It?

Wow, you could just … stop. Right now.

Sometimes I forget how easy it is to stop writing. To lose motivation. To want to quit.

It’s the curse that often comes with training yourself to write a lot, every day, consistently.

I’m not afraid to admit that I forget to look back at where I have been. To remember that there were times I couldn’t write at all, couldn’t form more than a few sentences on a page in my journal before I gave up. I forget that there have been moments of such intense discouragement that I once spent months looking and interviewing for jobs that had nothing to do with my writing or my passion at all because I was just so tired of being tired.

When you really think about it — if you allow yourself to think about it hard enough — writing, like so many other things, would be so easy to quit. All you’d have to do is take your hands off your keyboard or drop your pen, stand up, walk away, and never go back to it again.

Ever.

Would that really be the worst thing you have ever done? Would quitting destroy you? Probably not. In the end, you would probably be just fine.

Right?

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Before You Can Fix Your Writing, You Must First ‘Fix’ Yourself

A new writing prompt won’t erase your fear of failure.

I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where writers (hopefully) feel comfortable telling me what they are struggling with.

Usually, the problems we end up addressing (usually here in comments or on Twitter) don’t actually have anything to do with writing. At least, not directly.

Most of the time, what writers wrestle with most isn’t how to tell a story, but how to overcome all the mental and creative barriers preventing them from telling the story they want to tell.

Of all the issues I’ve seen aspiring writers struggle with over the years, the most common seem to be issues all of us have dealt with at some point in our lives, or still do today.

  • They don’t feel confident.
  • They don’t feel they have the support they need.
  • They’re afraid of failure.
  • They’re avoiding rejection.
  • They don’t want to embarrass themselves.

This list could go on and on. Which really says a lot about writing both as a hobby and a profession. We don’t struggle to achieve our dreams because doing so is impossible. We so often fall short of our own ambitions as writers because we allow ourselves to THINK it’s impossible.

Writers can create as many schedules as they want to, attend as many writing workshops and conferences as they want, take as many classes and earn as many certificates or even degrees as they want. You can revamp your routine as many times as you desire. You can read all the books, absorb all the advice, become the armchair expert you always said you would never be.

But if you don’t start with the roadblocks that exist within your own head, you’re never going to be able to get any worthwhile writing done. And if you don’t write, well, you’re “technically” not a writer.

Before you can fix your writing schedules and routines and roadblocks, you have to first “fix” yourself.

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In Defense of Writing In the Dark

Hello, darkness. We meet again.

I used to be afraid that if I wrote the stories I really wanted to write, and showed them to the world, everyone would think there was something wrong with me.

I mean, to be fair, there are plenty of things wrong with me and I’m not ashamed of any of them at this point in my life. I don’t think I would be the writer I am today — or a writer at all — if I’d never felt the pull of creative expression as an escape from the real world I had no choice but to grow up in.

I’ll never forget the first time I showed something I had written — a poem, maybe, or a very short essay — to a therapist. I didn’t like to talk about my writing or even mention the fact that I was a writer to people I didn’t know well, but when the subject came up and she found out I was a writer, she asked if I could bring something for her to read.

Of course I chose the darkest thing in my portfolio to show her (if you could even call it that — I was 15), because, I mean, why not?

Thankfully she ended up liking it, or so she told me (maybe I just needed encouragement, and looking back, whether she was just being nice or telling the truth, I sincerely appreciate it). Perhaps it was in that moment that I realized there is power in writing dark things, as long as they don’t leave the reader completely trapped within.

Maybe this is what we all not so secretly crave — to have our attractions to darkness justified, or praised, or at the very least, understood.
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Don’t Throw Away Your Work. Just Set It Aside.

Don’t give up! Not forever!

Have you ever looked at something you’ve written or are currently in the process of writing, looked at the nearest trash can, and seriously considered just dumping your entire laptop into it and walking away like nothing happened?

It’s technically not a sin to delete something you have written.

But there are plenty of reasons you shouldn’t.

Here’s the thing about your original work: It’s yours. You can do whatever you want with it (until you give the rights to someone else … we don’t need to get into that right now).

Of course you can throw it away if you want to.

But you don’t have to.

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Why I’ve Never Stopped Writing for ‘Exposure’

It’s not a forbidden thing to do.

I earn less than $1 writing 30+ blog posts every 30 days.

This is not a complaint, and if I’m being honest, it’s a vast improvement over the first eight years I spent doing this. It was, and still is, my choice to keep ads and brand deals off this site. It has never felt right to do that to my audience and it never will. So I’m totally OK with not making a living doing what I do.

If we’re being technical, I actually lose money on this blog every year after paying the costs of my domain and WordPress.com hosting.

And yet I’m still here doing the thing. It’s almost been 11 years, and I’m still here, writing for free.

Why?

To be clear, this isn’t the only writing gig I’m happily committed to that does not pay me at all, and there are several others that don’t pay much for the amount and hours of work that go into the content I produce.

But still. Why? If I’m trying to make a living as a writer, why do I do so much work without much financial reward?

Add in the amount I do earn that doesn’t get taken out for taxes at payout, meaning I’m going to have to pay the government out of my own pocket in the spring because that’s just how things are (#adulting #work), and … yeah. People think making money as a writer is so easy. It’s not. It’s really not.

I am fortunate enough to be in a position where multiple websites pay me for my work. A company also pays me to edit other people’s words, which I would some days argue is a thousand times harder than actually writing. I know I have an advantage over many aspiring writers who have to trudge through jobs they don’t like while also figuring out how to set aside time in their personal lives to pursue their writing goals.

But I also know this whole “should you write for free and when” debate is an ongoing thing for many writers, because even I still struggle with it sometimes. I wanted to bring up the topic with the general understanding that anyone reading this, while searching for paid opportunities to grow as a writer — as you should be — are also concerned about growing and establishing yourself from the ground up.

Hopefully some of the insights below can help.

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