How to Live Like a Writer

Thursday, September 20, 2012
by Renate Reimann, PhD, Personal Life and Productivity Coach

Many of us aspire to creating great works of art or, at least, finish that writing project that has been with us for far too long. Despite our great desire to write, we sometimes don’t find the time, the energy or the inspiration to follow through on our literary ambitions. What’s missing?

In my coaching practice, I usually find that one of two ingredients is lacking: feeling like a writer or living like a writer. Today I want to focus on living like a writer because it is usually also a shortcut to feeling like one.

Pick one of your favorite authors, past or present, and find out how she structures her time. When does he write? How much does she produce on a daily basis? Which environment is most productive? And what are the necessary implements?

For quick results, you can search online for key terms like “writing habits of famous writers” or those of your favorite author. The old-fashioned way, reading a biography of your most inspirational author, is a bit more romantic though.

Once you have discovered how your role model does it, explore your own best practices. Are there consistent elements at play when you are able to generate volume or create your best work? Is a brick wall your muse as it is for Francine Prose? Or do you like to write in your underwear like John Cheever? I, embarrassingly, like to roll out of bed, throw on some old gym clothes and get to it. It doesn’t have to be pretty – it just has to work.

Next, how can you turn your most productive moments into solid writing habits? If you are at your best in the morning, how about setting aside an hour before going to work? Many writers, like John Grisham during his years working as a lawyer, composed best sellers with this technique.

Comparing your own most rewarding writing behaviors with those of your role models, what can you learn from them and what could they learn from you? Don’t be shy.

In sum, here is how you live like a writer: turn your own best practices into daily or weekly routines, drop what is less helpful and always learn from others. It’s okay to grow and change whenever you find better ways of being a writer. In fact, it is part of the craft and the art.

To you, the writer!


Wouldn't it be nice to have both an editor and productivity coach at your side to help you write your novel? The dynamic duo of Diane O'Connell and Renate Reimann, PhD have created a brand new novel writing course that is offered as three separate classes, depending on your needs. Part 1 starts October, 1, 2012. For more information, visit our classroom page!


Margo Dill said...

I never thought about Googling famous or successful writers' habits. What a great and simple idea! I bet it is also very interesting. I notice as I talk with other writers that everyone is so different--some people need music/others silence; some need food/others wine; and some need home/others a coffee shop. I like this: LIVE AS A WRITER! Great post.

Anonymous said...

I like this idea, too, but think I want to live like a writer of the great literary heydays. I want to go to fabulous parties like Truman Capote. I want to be viewed as a great mind. But I guess I'll settle for seeing my name in print and knowing that I bring a little joy to others. Truly, that is living the writer's life to me.

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