A love for writing is best demonstrated when a person actively writes. When observing the components of a typical writer’s life, it is clear that there are many aspects to it that are universal to almost all us. It’s nearly impossible to cover every single detail of a writer’s life in one blog post. However, what I will do is share with you the foundations of a writer’s life, detail how its components work together, and show how they are done effectively.
In order to make writing a nearly everyday reality, you will need a list of tangible and intangible things:
- Trusty notebooks and pens/pencils
- A reliable note-taking or writing app on your smartphone
- Word processor
- A passion for writing
- Good writing space
- Other writers
Perhaps it seems pretty standard on the surface. But implementation is another matter. Consider these things the ingredients to a more efficient writer’s life. Now that we know what we need, we can talk about how to best use and execute them.
Notebooks, Writing Utensils, and Writing Apps
It goes without saying that the pen and the page are a writer’s two best friends. I can certainly attest to this. Among the countless notebooks I own, there are two notebooks I carry with me nearly daily: a small leather journal and a larger multicolored journal. The small journal functions as a place for reflection and introspection. It’s a place to vent and to hurt, to feel like I’m a comedic genius, and to show my gratitude for the growth and opportunities that I have been afforded so far in my writer’s life. I have found that introspection is one of my most trusted methods of maturing in my writing. I believe that a growing sense of self-awareness is a major key to thriving as a writer; journaling definitely gives room for that.
My larger journal functions greatly in my writing process. It houses my brainstorming scribblings and thought maps made to conceptualize my written pieces. It also contains outlines and drafts of my written pieces. If an idea for a piece, contest, or pitch comes to mind, it all goes into my larger journal.
I carry both of these books with me almost daily in my trusty bag. I arm myself with both because, as noted in this post about my writer’s muse, inspiration and contemplation do strike at inopportune moments. However, it is not necessary that a writer carries two books around; the journal used for personal reflection can totally stay at home. One reliable notebook in which you write your musings and stories gets the job done (along with your trusty pen or pencil, of course).
Picking the Right Notebook
Picking a random notebook off a whim could work. But I don’t recommend it, the reason being that the notebook that you like may not be practical for your lifestyle. I carry a large notebook because I enjoy having a large space to write. But I also have a large bag that I carry with me nearly everyday, and it fits that bag. Obviously, if you are a person who likes the bigger space in a large notebook but you don’t want to haul it with you everywhere you go, forgoing the large book for smaller one would work best. If you’re someone that carries a smaller bag or prefers a notebook small enough to enter your back pocket, choose the notebook that accommodates that.
The Function of the Writing apps and the Best Kinds to Use
Life is messy. We don’t always remember to bring our trusty notebooks with us every time we leave our homes. And sometimes, the outfits that we have on for the day don’t call for large handbags or accessible pockets. Maybe the settings that we find ourselves in don’t accommodate whipping out the large notebook we love.
This is where a reliable writing app comes in.
The overwhelming majority of today’s smartphones comes supplied with writing apps already in them. And that’s good. However, not all writing apps are created equal. We must consider how the apps function in the grander scheme of our writing goals.
We want to use apps that contribute to the productivity and efficiency of our writing process. Therefore, a writing app that makes you retype the content from your smartphone onto your computer’s word processor would be encroaching on that process. Thankfully, we have writing apps that operate on cloud computing, allowing a document to be accessed from smartphones and computers. You also do not have to worry about clicking the save button before logging out of the app. Google Docs and Evernote are two of such apps and they are free to use both on your computer and on your smartphone.
Now that we have our notebooks, writing utensils, and writing apps at our arsenal, we now have to implement the more difficult parts of a writer’s life.
Striking a Balance Between the passion to Write and the Discipline to Write
It is good to have the passion to write. It’s better to have the passion and discipline to write. Discipline is what further cements your love for writing beyond the butterflies you feel when inspiration strikes. The truth is writing is not always a burst of inspiration followed by effortless scribing. Sometimes, you’ll feel “meh” about writing. Other times, your attitude is a downright “nope!” But I have found, in my own experience, that primarily depending on those bursts of inspiration to write is what weakens me as a writer.
Instead, I recommend designating a time or a day of the week that is dedicated to writing. Over time, your body becomes more attuned to your routine. This has certainly been the case for my own life. Most evenings and Saturdays are dedicated to writing, regardless of how inspired I feel to write.
I know it can be tougher to designate your writing time if you are living with people who are actively engaged in your life. If this applies to you, communicate to them your desire to make writing a consistent part of your life. Once they realize how important your writing time is to you, you all can agree on a time when you have uninterrupted writing sessions. By doing this, they are playing a role in your writing success.
Setting Writing Goals
When having your writing sessions, it helps to set up goals that you wish to accomplish during these sessions. Is there a word count that you are trying to reach this week? Are you wanting to solidify the development of certain characters in your story? Are you striving to get over a fear of writing a very personal, revealing piece? Whatever the case maybe–from very structured goals to more soulfully liberating goals–I recommend setting them at the beginning of each week and using each writing session as a stepping stone towards your goal.
Creating your writing space
The ideal writing space is not going to be the same in every writer’s life. For some, a simple desk will do. But for others, sitting on a bed with your laptop on your lap and your legs slightly bent at the knees works (random fact: this is exactly how I am writing this post). Sometimes, absolute silence helps your brain think louder as you write. Other times, a coffeeshop with the commotion of customers and clinking coffee cups does the trick.
You might be thinking with all this variability, how do I find my ideal writing space?
The key is to pay attention to how you respond in each setting.
Humans are creatures who are influenced by their environment. For example, after a long day, you may decide to go to your desk to get some writing in. And you realize that the familiarity with that space is making writing kind of “meh” for you. But with the sun going down and park not too far from your house, you decide that writing in front of the sunset helps to revitalize your senses, thus making writing a more soulful experience.
If you have a pretty easygoing writing session, evaluate what made it that way and take note of the environment you were in when you were writing. On days when your writing session is not as good as it could be, consider what made it lackluster and remember the kind of environment you were in. Sometimes, your surroundings are to blame. Other times, it is solely internal.
But whatever the case may be, introspection is the best evaluator used to determine which environments work for you while other environments might not. You might have one ideal writing space. You might have multiple. It’s all about trial and error and listening to what your body needs in the moment.
The Power of being Connected with Other Writers
If you are very familiar with Verily Merrily Mary, you know that there is one phrase that I say on here from time to time.
Writing is a fellowship.
No matter how great the individual pursuits in a writer’s life, a major key to growth is other writers. It’s great when we have opportunities to connect with writers face-to-face through writing circles and writing retreats. It’s also great that, with the existence of social media platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, and the blogosphere in general, writers can easily find each other. Not do these connections allow you to feel less alone in your writing life (which is reassuring), they can also keep you posted about writing opportunities that you would have not known about otherwise.
Connecting with other writers can also benefit you if you are not a self-motivated writer. After conversing with a fellow writer, you may decide that you would like them to keep you accountable with your writing goals. If the connection is mutual, it can turn out to be a beneficial writing relationship.
But being connected to writers doesn’t stop at face-to-face and online interactions. The connection also happens in a different way by reading the work of other writers.
Reading offers many benefits, one of the more obvious ones being general inspiration. It also helps you build your vocabulary and exposes you to different ways to use language. If it is non-fiction, it allows you to peer into the lives of others which can be a positive enhancement to how you portray human experiences. If it is a work of fiction, it can ignite your imagination and compel you to create your own take on storytelling. And with so many authors on social media platforms, there are ways to reach out to them to express your gratitude for sharing their art with you.
It goes without saying that a lot has been covered in this post. From writing notebooks to implementing reading into your writing life, we know the foundation upon which a writing life is built. I designed this to be a one stop shop for all things that make up the basics of a writer’s life. Look below for a brief review of what we have covered.