Taking Control of Your Writing Life
The independent writer views their writing life as something they have control over.
- If they don’t know enough information on the subject they are writing about, they will do some research.
- If they have a weakness in their writing style, they will read writing books, take classes or do writing exercises to improve in that area.
- If they are having trouble with a particular scene or writing project, they will turn to beta readers or an editor for further help.
- If they aren’t able to learn a skill themselves, they will enlist the services of someone who can.
While this kind of writer understands that they have limitations, they do not allow these limitations to hold them back. They view the limitations as things to be compensated for, not as things that hinder them from reaching their goals.
They create a support structure of fellow writers, enthusiastic readers and other skilled people whom they can call on to fill specific roles in their writing journey.
Take a few minutes to consider the support structure you currently have in place. A good support structure may include:
- A writing mentor – A more experienced writer who is able to guide you to improve in your writing and remind you of the progress you have made.
- An editor – This may be a professional editor, or simply an eagle-eyed friend who is able to pick up on your mistakes.
- Beta readers – People who are willing to read your writing and offer feedback. Ideally they should match your target audience. (We will look at more about target audiences later.)
- Fellow Writers – These may be found in writing groups or online. They can offer sympathy, encouragement and advice.
Each of these support people plays a different role and fills an important need in your writing life. There are plenty of people out there who are willing to help you with areas you may be struggling with, so reach out and begin building your support structure.
Writing For Beauty, Not Perfection
An independent writer does not aim for perfection. They realize perfection is unattainable. Instead, they aim for beauty – a symmetry, trueness, depth or hue to their writing that is both faithful to their writing voice and appealing to their target audience.
This mindset is not only helpful when approaching the blank page, but also when making writing decisions.
There are many decisions involved in the writing life, from choice of genre to the placement of commas. The independent writer not only understands that they are responsible for making these decisions, but realizes that for many of these decisions there is no black and white answer.
They will work through their options for each decision and choose what they feel is best for the story.
We will continue to refer back to the phrase ‘writing for beauty, not perfection’ throughout this book to encourage you to be more relaxed and creative in your writing.
Process Oriented Rather that Product Oriented
While writers usually work towards producing an end result – a book, a poem or simply the perfect paragraph – independent writers separate themselves from their writing.
They are a writer: They produce. Their writing is the production.
While they may be very enamored with the end product, they spend most of their time focused on the act of producing – the writing, research and editing that goes into that product and all that follow – instead of becoming bogged down in a single work.
Being process oriented rather than product oriented helps the writer:
- Evaluate their writing,
- Make needed adjustments to their work in progress,
- Cope with feedback and criticism, and
- Move on from a completed project to start afresh on a new work.
It also helps a writer adjust to changes life may throw at them. For example, perhaps due to a change in work schedule and increased deadline pressure a writer may temporarily be unable to work on his novel. Instead of focusing on what his is no longer able to do (product oriented) the writer can choose to move his focus to journaling or writing short stories for a few months (process oriented).
We will return to this concept later on in this book, as it is very helpful for coping with some of the stressors integral to the writing life.
Add your comment below. What support structure do you have in place for your writing life?
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