Dear Writer - January 2017

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Dear Writer,

This is it. This is the year I start writing. The year I decide to put pen to paper and tell the story that’s been burning inside me for a long time. But how do I get started? And more importantly, how do I keep going, once I get started? 


Dear #NewYearNewMe,

This is wonderful news一welcome to the world of words and writing. There’s nothing more rewarding than watching something that existed solely in your mind find its voice on paper. And, since the frigid temperatures and snow are probably keeping you indoors, there’s no better time to write. 

Your question is one that I’m sure many writers (and those who have made other kinds of resolutions) are wondering about. You’ve made the decision that 2018 will be the year of writing. But how do you do it? How do you find the motivation after an eight-hour day at work or after a full day of classes? After all, your desk isn’t nearly as comfortable as the couch, and your couch is likely positioned in front of the TV, which also, probably, has Netflix. Oh, the temptation…

I’m so glad that you’ve decided to be a writer, and that you woke up on the morning of January 1st still excited by the idea. But it’s not enough to say you want to be a writer. You also need to put in the work. You need to find the motivation even if it doesn’t seem to be there. Writing isn’t something you do my accident一you really need to sit down and make it happen.  

So, #NewYearNewMe, how do we make writing a seamless part of your life? How do we make sure that this resolution is successful and doesn’t end up like most expensive gym memberships come February (hey, no judgement! We’ve all been there)? 

My first suggestion is to schedule time into your calendar. Yes, I know that this isn’t the sexiest piece of advice I could offer, but it’s the most important. There will always be a reason not to write. You have homework. You had a long day at work and all you want to do is binge-watch reruns of your favorite show. Your house or apartment needs cleaning, or you need to make a meal for your family, or you need to bring the kids to various activities... 

There will always be something that you could be doing instead of writing. And while all of those things are important, if you’re truly committed to bringing your stories or poems or essays to life this year, you need to treat your writing like it’s important, too. 

That means scheduling in writing time, just like you would pencil in other obligations. To start, pick two or three days a week where you can set aside an hour to write. Maybe you’ll exceed that time, or maybe you’ll only get to work for half an hour一that’s okay! So long as you sit down and write some words, that’s all that matters. Whether you write a poem or an essay, or you write a letter or postcard to your best friend, write something. Set up recurring meetings in your Google calendar or iPhone, and get notifications or reminder emails sent to you so that you hold yourself accountable. 

The next thing you need to do is to find your tribe. Find the people who will help keep you accountable. The people who will be your cheerleaders while also giving you constructive (and positive!) feedback to help you grow in your writing. The people you can call up or email when you’re having writer's block, or need help deciding on which direction to take your story. 

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you live in or near the Chippewa Valley region in northwestern Wisconsin. If you do, that’s great news for you, because the perfect writing community exists right where you are. 

With the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild, you can easily find writing groups to join (or start your own!), and attend free Craft Talks that cover a wide range of topics that will enhance your writing. Remember, a strong, positive community is crucial in keeping you motivated in your work. So while you’re adding your writing time into your calendar, make sure to pencil Guild events into your calendar, too. 

So #NewYearNewMe, that’s what I have for you. You already have the most important parts of all of this (the words and creativity). Now all you need to do is set that schedule, find your people, and get to work. I can’t wait to see where your writing takes you this year. 

Good luck, and Happy New Year,