Steven Pressfield made famous the concept of turning professional at writing in his books, The War of Art and Turning Pro. His main idea is this; there really isn’t much to turning pro…all you have to do is create a writing discipline, and write even if you don’t feel like writing.
Which happens to be teeny bit…- who am I kidding – really, really hard.
A lot of us aspiring writers treat our writing as a hobby. Which means, sometimes we do it, sometimes we don’t. It depends on different things; how blue the sky is; whether enough clouds are racing across the sky; our mood; the lighting; the temperature of our coffee…
Even though being a moody writer still means you’re a writer, to turn pro you need to churn out new articles on a regular basis. So here are a few tips I’ve adopted since I decided to turn pro myself;
1. Visualize yourself writing
Most people visualize the outcome; receiving that award, giving the TED Talk that goes viral, getting a deluge of fan mail…No. Instead visualize yourself sitting in front of a laptop and tapping away. I’ve personally learnt that visualizing yourself in the process of performing the taskis more effective than visualizing the result as the former is more realistic, and the minimum activation energy — the concept that chemistry introduced to us but Shawn Achor made popular in The Happiness Advantage — is lower.
In other words, the difference between your current state — wasting time on Medium — and the future state in your vision — writing — is much lower than if you were to imagine yourself on a stage winning an award.
2. Divide the process
The process of writing is made up of more steps than putting down words on paper/screen. I got the idea of deconstructing the writing from the book 2K to 10K by Rachel Aaron where she separated her process mainly to research and writing. Dividing the process and allocating some time to each individual task makes it more manageable, especially when you’re trying to fit in writing within the tiny pockets of time between a full-time job, school and/or family.
Experiment with yourself and determine your own process, but my process goes as follows;
-Do the research. Evernote and its clipping feature is your BFF at this point.
-Come up with a sad attempt for a draft — or what I call my Augmented Outline — because it projects a half-baked draft made up of incomplete sentences, buzzwords and commands (Google this!!!) on to a traditional outline. This augmented outline gives the general flow of what I would want to write about.
-Then there’s writing the actual post
-Editing and revising. This step could be repeated anywhere from 2 to 50 times.
Each of these steps take 30 to 90 minutes, thus making my writing project take on the characteristic of a fluid in that it fills the shape of its container – where the container here is whatever amount of time between (what others would call) real responsibilities.
3. Have multiple writing projects at a time
This is super-important for me because I love variety. I’ve come to accept that about myself. Even the coffee barista gets confused sometimes because I tend to order 2-3 different drinks whenever I go. But sometimes I really, really, really don’t feel like working on my main WIP. That’s when I work on a blog post or medium. The goal is to just keep on writing, stringing words together.
(Extra bonus) Freewrite.
While I don’t consider freewriting as a pro writing session, but it’s useful as a precursor to a proper writing session especially on days when I’m experiencing writer’s block. Freewriting helps with that. Set a timer for 20 minutes — the Tide app simulates the sound of the ocean so I tend to use that — and just write.
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