Nurturing the Writer's Spirit (a guest blog from novelist Danica Favorite)
One of the things we talk a lot about at conferences and workshops is how to improve the craft of writing. But I believe we’re missing an important layer of what it means to be a writer. As writers, we have to dig deep into our inner being so that we can convey stories that reach our readers. Technique is easily learned, but the essence that goes into what we write, that’s something that can only come from deep within, the core of who we are as people.
Which is why we also need to focus on nurturing our writer’s spirit.
Writing is an incredibly deep and emotional process. Writing is one of the few endeavors where a person lays their soul bare, gets heaping criticism flung at it, then comes back for more. Yes, there is positive feedback, but many writers will agree that there’s far more negative than positive. How do you nurture a soul that faces regular criticism in the face of all the other doubts and fears that come with the job?
Writers, your work has value. The problem is, we’re so busy learning about techniques, markets, trends, social media, and whatever new toy the writing world has come up with, that we forget the absolute core of what we do and why we do it. All of us have different reasons for writing, different stories to tell, and a different impact we will have on the world. Yet sometimes, we lose sight of that because we’re so focused on the business of writing that we forget the soul of our writing.
That’s not to say there’s no place in our writing careers for the business of writing. The last time I checked, writers needed to eat, too. But if we do not take the time to go back and nurture our writing spirits, if we do not care for ourselves at our very core, then writers, we’re not going to be writers anymore. Over the years, I’ve been heartbroken as I’ve watched good writer friends walk away from their writing careers. While they all have their reasons, one of the most common themes I am hearing is that they are simply worn out.
If you do not take the time to nurture your writer’s spirit, this could be you. A writer with stories the world needs to hear, but without the energy to tell them.
How do you nurture your writer’s spirit?
One: Spend time focusing on the dream. Do you remember what it was like when you first picked up pen and paper, you first had that crazy idea to write? Think of all the amazing things you hoped to do with your books. Really take the time to sit in that feeling and that dream. This isn’t the time to think practical or tell yourself what the reality of writing is. This is the time to dream big. If you could write anything, do anything as a writer, and absolutely not fail, what would you do?
Two: Take time to nurture yourself. Are you getting enough sleep? Eating good foods? Drinking enough water? Getting enough exercise? Spending time with loved ones? Doing good things to take care of yourself? Is there something you should do for yourself that you’ve been putting off? Do it!
Three: Give yourself room to be creative. The problem with the business of writing is that it is a business. As much as I’d love to have purple elephants strolling through a scene just because, I leave it out because I know it’s not going to sell books. Yet there is still something creative in us that is screaming to be free. It is the double-edged sword of being a writer. We are creative, yet in our creative works, we can’t be too creative. Which is why writers need to have another creative outlet. Maybe it’s the collection of bad poetry you’ve got stashed in a journal. Or perhaps you’re a photographer. Or a knitter. I’ve become a big fan of art journaling because of how it is a non-judgmental approach to creativity that allows me to do crazy things for no reason. So find that secondary creative outlet and explore!
While these three tips are a great start, there is so much more you can do to nurture yourself as a writer. I’m going to spend a weekend in November giving writers these and other tools for encouraging their creativity and nurturing themselves. I’d love to have you join me. Early-Bird Registration is only $97 until September 4th, so be sure to register soon.
You can find registration details here.
Glad to hear it Ruth!! Definitely go in with a different attitude and heart. I hope you get lots out of your conference, and you also get a chance to reflect and refuel.
Great thoughts, Danica. Sometimes, it’s so easy to get caught up in the business side and to forget that I once did this writing thing for fun. Great advice!
Yes!! Writing IS fun! So I hope you have some fun with it!
Thanks for the reminder Danica. As I prepare for ACFW, it’s good to remember the love I have for writing. I didn’t enjoy my last time at ACFW. It felt like high school! If you didn’t fit in with the popular writers, then you didn’t fit in. I went with the wrong intentions. This time I’m going with the right attitude: have fun! Meet other writers! Learn the craft! I can’t wait. I run for relaxation. It is my time to reflect and refuel. I teach writing and enjoy telling my students about how I became a writer. I am energized when I see them reading my books. Again, thanks for reminding me why I write!!