by Christine Hennebury
A lot of my columns here on 10MN have been about ways you can tweak or improve your writing experience to make it a little easier on yourself.
Today, I would like you to take a moment to celebrate the things that are already good about your writing experiences.
You might even want to grab a notebook so you can make a chart or a list or a drawing so you can come back to it when you feel a bit cranky about your writing.
Let’s start in a really general way.
1) What draws you to write?
Many writers talk about a compulsion to write but not all writers start that way. Please don’t think that compulsion is a necessary ingredient in a writer’s life.
Some of us seem to be born with the drive to write. We start when we are very young creating stories and books and plays.
Others, like me, are very creative but we don’t really feel driven to write. I have always had lots of ideas and I have enjoyed my writing skill but taking a project from idea to completion is not something that happened organically. Basically, I enjoyed playing in the world I created but I didn’t necessarily feel drawn to finish my work or to share it.
Yet, I wanted to have my work already out there in the world. I had to learn to bridge that gap between wanting to play and wishing my work was already out there. Obviously, I had to actually do the steps in between!
So, whatever pulls you (or drags you!) to write is just fine. And if you don’t feel any compulsion at all, that’s fine too. As long as your expectations match your approach, you’re doing great.
Just make a note of what brings you to the page – inspiration or cash or boredom or whatever. It’s all good stuff.
2) What writing skills do you already have?
Maybe your dialogue is snappy and precise. Perhaps your descriptions are lush and beautiful. Your sense of place may transport your reader. Or, maybe you are ruthless when you revise your work, or you catch every repeated phrase. It doesn’t matter what your specific skills are, just know that we all have a solid skill set.
Capture those skills on your paper. Give yourself a star or a happy face for skill development.
In fact, give yourself many, many stars and happy faces as you go through this list.
3) What writing ‘assets’ do you have?
Are you part of a writing group, online or in person? Have you got the world’s biggest collection of amazing pens? Do you own a word processing program? Are your shelves filled with writing books? When was the last writing workshop you attended?
All of these things are part of your writing assets. These are things that you can rely on to help you get your writing done. Experiences, connections, and physical items are all helpful when you need to get words on paper.
Make a list so you can remind yourself that you have a lot of tools at your disposal. Make sure you make full use of those items and connections.
PS – The help you offer other people is an asset, too. Helping someone else makes you realize how much you know or have.
4) What have you accomplished writing-wise?
I’m not just talking about published books. Your accomplishments can be anything at all.
Did you write for several days in a row? Perhaps you finished a story? Maybe you really nailed that description?
Or, you may have sent out some queries. Or dug out an old manuscript to revise.
Maybe, as I recently discovered, you gave your mother a creepy nightmare from a story you wrote. (Yay! Oh, and sorry, Mom.)
Did your words makes someone cry? Or make them angry.
Anything that feels like a writing victory counts. Even if it was just finding that perfect word you were seeking. Write it all down!
5) What have you ditched, writing-wise?
Sometimes a Not Doing list is as valuable as a To Do list.
What projects/genres/approaches have you decided are not for you?
Maybe short stories aren’t worth your effort.
Or, that novel is just not where you want to put your energy right now.
(Yes, I know that everyone feels that way sometimes. You have to decide the difference between ‘part of the process’ and ‘never touching that again’ for yourself.)
Again, it doesn’t matter what is on this part of the list, it only matters that you identify these things. By drawing a line under them now, you can take them out of your head.
These sorts of writing boundaries may change over time but it is useful to set them for now so you can focus on what you WANT to do.
6) What are your plans?
I know that us creative-types have all sorts of ideas and plans but here is a space to capture some of them. You might want to divide your list into short-term and long-term plans. Or you may wish to create your own divisions. Personally, mine are ‘right now’, ‘soon’ and ‘not now’.
You don’t have to commit to each and every one of these plans because you wrote them down. This is just a solid way to see and celebrate your ambition.
PS – Feel free to add dreams and hopes to this, after all, it’s your list.
7) What good things has writing given you?
Who have you met because of your writing? What kinds of things do you know or can you do that you didn’t before?
Every piece of writing you do gives you some knowledge or it helps you make a connection.
Being a writer puts you in all kinds of interesting and useful environments. Looking at the world through a writerly lens gives you a different perspective.
Think about how writing adds to your life – even if it just gives you a few minutes to yourself here and there.
Note those gifts on your chart so you can remind yourself when you get annoyed by your words.
8) How do you celebrate yourself and your writing?
What makes you feel great about your writing and about yourself as a writer? How often do you celebrate that?
Can you add some celebration to your regular routines? Perhaps you could make a habit of adding to the writing accomplishments or gifts on this list.
Maybe you can make a list of ways that you can celebrate and then make a plan for how often to celebrate them.
Gold Star for your Efforts! Congratulations, my Writerly Friend!
Often, we get so caught up in what is coming next that we forget to see how far we have come. I hope this list helps you to notice your skills, your accomplishments and how hard you work. Perhaps you can keep it nearby so you can check-in regularly and keep your spirits up.
Now that you have taken stock of your awesomeness – Write on!
Christine Hennebury’s storytelling career began when she was four and her parents didn’t believe her tale about water shooting out of her nose onto the couch – they insisted that she had spilled bubble solution from the empty jar in her hand. Luckily, her skills have improved since then. Christine makes up stories, shares stories, and coaches other people who are working on stories, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Find out more about her at christinehennebury.com or visit her on Facebook .