How to Become a Happy + Productive Writer (1 Simple Formula)
Hey, you lovely writer you. How’s your writing life? For real?
I ask because I know things can get tough (really tough, at times). If your writing life isn’t going the way you want it, it can feel as if your whole life is out of sync. I also know what it’s like to live a writing life that gets things done and accomplishes big dreams. And it’s a whole lot of fun.
So, let me guess:
You love writing. You dream of being a professional writer, your days filled with writing words that capture your reality and express your creativity. You want to capture the world in beautiful and simple letters. You hope to touch people's hearts, reflect vulnerable truths about our culture, and change the world, all through the written word. You dream of a lovely writing desk with the perfect view and all the time in the world. You dream of a mind free of obligations and distractions, free of that nasty inner critic, a mind that is confident, happy, inspired, ready to write.
"If only I had the time to write," you say.
"If only I could get past this writer's block," you say.
"If only I was good enough," you say.
"If only I had a nice space to write," you say.
"If only this story would come out better," you say.
"If only I wasn't such a procrastinator," you say.
"If only I wasn't lazy," you say.
"If only I had more motivation, or discipline, or both," you say.
"If only everything fell into place."
Instead, your life is busy and filled with a lot of things that aren't writing. You have obligations and responsibilities – perhaps you have a day job, or go to school, or have small children. When you do have time to write, you're uninspired. You stare at the blank page waiting for words to magically appear, but they don't. Your brain tells you that sentence was horrible, that paragraph sucked, and perhaps this whole plot is stupid. You try to fight it. You set deadlines to get the writing done, but they pass with no real progress. You study the craft, looking for some magic secret that you're missing. You blame writing itself; if only it would cooperate. It's supposed to be easier than this, you think. A LOT easier.
Eventually, you DO make some progress, but you fear it's not good enough. You get angry at writing, angry it won't come out well, angry it's not finished, angry that you aren't making your dreams of being a writer come true. You get frustrated that nothing is getting done. You worry that it'll never get done. You wonder if there's any point to this at all.
You've tried to fix it. You've tried writing prompts. You've tried taking a break. You've tried setting deadlines. You've tried scouring the internet for answers. Nothing has worked.
One of your universal truths, tied to your identity, is that you are a writer. But you don't write.
How can you be a writer if you are not writing? Your writing gets put on hold. You find excuses not to write – too busy, uninspired, tomorrow will be better – and you get trapped in a paralyzed place where writing never ever ever gets done.
You start to procrastinate. When you don't write very much your brain pressures you to write something amazing, something real, something good, and so you sit down at the page but all you feel is perfectionism weighing down on you. And with so much pressure and that nasty inner critic, you feel paralyzed and you abandon writing because you don't know what else to do.
This is why the writing doesn't get done, this is an ongoing struggle with your writing.
Is this you?
I hear you. I feel you. I feel the same way.
You are NOT alone.
Let me tell you a story:
I have been a writer my whole life. I have had moments in my life where I have written more than I could've imagined was possible for me to achieve. I have also had moments in my life where I have not felt like a writer at all.
I fell in love with writing as soon as I learned to read. I wrote because I loved language, I loved stories. I loved creating something out of nothing. By putting together letters and words and sentences, I had the power to create worlds and characters. I had the power to capture emotions and truths and fantasies and dreams. I had the chance to connect with people and do something amazing.
In sixth grade, at the suggestion of a well-meaning teacher, I submitted a story for publication and promptly got rejected. I was devastated. The world had slapped me in the face and told me that I wasn't good enough. And in my sixth-grade brain, I never would be. I swore off writing. I would never write again. Not for fun. Not for anything.
For nearly four years I wrote nothing.
But this couldn't last forever; I've always been too much of a writer at heart to abandon it forever. I eventually rekindled my passion, fell in love with writing again, and eventually pursued a creative writing degree in higher education. I studied. I read. I wrote. I did crazy things for the written word, like spending a month in Greece just to focus on my craft, giving away over 140 books for free to spread my love of literature with others, and winning awards for my words. I really did love writing and I really do want to do this forever.
But then again, just last year, months after graduating from higher education with a degree in creative writing, I couldn't write a single word. Stuck in a job that wasn't right for me, in a place that wasn't home, I couldn't write a word. I felt the weight of imposter syndrome. I felt the weight of self-doubt. I felt fear that I would never get to a writing life I love. I had all these dreams of being a writer and having a full time writing career, but I couldn't put them into action. I couldn't figure out how to get the writing life I desired. I sat around dreaming about being a writer, but I couldn’t do anything about it.
I was paralyzed. And so, my dreams stayed dreams.
Writing is hard. We want to believe that it's easy, we want to dream that it's simply sitting down and putting words onto the page, but there's a lot of other emotions, a lot of other moving pieces, a lot of other elements that make up a Real+Good Writing Life. It wasn't until I accepted this and dug deep into all those necessary components that I was able to start transforming my dreams into my reality.
I set out to fix my writing life. I got back to the basics. I studied the craft. I studied myself. I studied psychology, productivity hacks, self-development. I studied what a Real+Good Writing Life would consist of and how I could transform my writing life into one that was happy and productive.
And I emerged successful.
Imagine a world where the writing is easy. Imagine a world where you write the stories that you want to write on your own timeline. Imagine having enough time to write, and doing it consistently. Imagine being able to finish your work time and time again. Imagine being in love with your writing again, just like you did when you first came to writing. Imagine being able to eliminate writer's block, banish that inner critic, and have the confidence to persevere.
To actually get the writing done consistently when it isn’t a battle? To actually see progress on your writing goals? To actually approach the page excited and eager every day?
It’s a writer’s fairytale come true.
And I did it. And it’s awesome. I went from procrastiwriter to productiwriter. Now, I set writing goals and see them through. I love my work. And I approach the blank page ready to go, despite my mental blocks. I get shit done and I love every second of it.
How’d this happen? What’s my secret process that transformed my writing life for the better? One simple formula:
DNA (Intention + Discipline – FUD) = Happy + Productive Writer
To have a Real+Good Writing Life, you've got to focus your intentions, master discipline, and conquer your fears, uncertainties, + doubts. And you've got to do it all in a way that makes sense for you, using your Writer's DNA. When you do this, everything will fall into place.
You have to be intentional about what you want. You have to know truly and specifically what it is that you're going after and why that is so important to you. I set strong intentions of why I wanted to share this story with the world. I fell in love with my writing again, studied what I was doing and why I was doing it, and made plans to transform my writing dreams into my reality.
You have to be disciplined, putting butt in the chair day after day, even when you don't feel like it, so the writing gets done. You have to have routines, and habits, and a life built around writing. I disciplined myself with an actionable schedule to ensure the words made it onto the page consistently. I cemented my writing as a habit and commanded the muse to show up.
If you conquer all of that you still have to deal with the fear, the uncertainty, the doubt. These FUDs, as we call them, will always plague you, destroying your intentions, erasing your discipline, and eliminating your writing like completely. You have to have a system to fight back. I suited up with armor and battled my fears, uncertainties, and doubts (FUDs) like perfectionism and fear of what others would think and that evil inner critic that told me I wasn't good enough.
And you have to do all of this in a way that makes sense for you. You can't just follow some other writer's advice blindly. You're a unique human with unique needs. You have to create a writing life that works for you in the best way for you individually. I sat down to write a story only I could write using my unique Writer's DNA. I learned who I was as a writer, what I wrote, what I read, what inspired me, what my process was, and why I even wrote at all.
– The Steps –
Discover your Writer's DNA
FOCUS YOUR INTENTIONS
CONQUER YOUR FEARS, UNCERTAINTIES, + DOUBTS
Now, I'm submitting stories I'm proud of for publication every month. I'm making consistent, positive progress on a novel I'm passionate about. I can silence the inner editor and just write. I can have fun with my writing. I don't worry about rejection and failure and self-doubt, because I believe in the process, I believe in my work, and I believe in myself.
I'm living a happy and productive writing life that I love.
So, how do you do it?
Just remember the super-simple Writer's Brain Formula: Focus your Intentions, Master Discipline, and Conquer your Fears, Uncertainties, and Doubts (FUDs), all using your Writer's DNA. It's an easy little formula. Add a good helping of intention and discipline into your writing life, then subtract FUDs as much as you can, multiply it all by your unique DNA, and you get yourself a happy and productive writer!
The Write-Brain Formula:
dna (intention + discipline – fud) = happy + productive writer
Step 1: Discover your Writer's DNA
You've first got lay a solid foundation of who you are. You've got to get to the core of yourself and figure out what makes you you.
+ Figure out who you are
+ Pay attention to what you read
+ Consider what you write
+ Turn to what inspires you
+ Learn how you write
+ Know why you're writing at all
+ And put it all together to discover your unique Writer's DNA!
*Looking for a Real+Good place to start?
Step 2: Focus your intentions
+ Rekindle your passion for writing
+ Recommit yourself to your work
+ Fall in love with your writing again (with its beauty + all its flaws)
+ Discover your motivational fuel (your why) that will get you started time + time again, and keep you going even when things get really tough
+ Dream BIG writing dreams + set plans to transform them into your reality
+ Take ownership of yourself and your writing life
*Looking for a Real+Good place to start?
Step 3: Master discipline
+ Make writing a priority so you actually get shit done
+ Map out a plan to transform your dreams into your reality
+ Take baby-action-steps to reach your big goals
+ Discover your BEST writing life and make it a reality so every writing session is a wildly productive writing session
+ Infuse writing with the rest of your life, so you can be a writer AND have a life
+ Cement writing as a habit so you can command the muse to come on YOUR time
*LOOKING FOR A REAL+GOOD PLACE TO START?
Step 4: Conquer your Fears, Uncertainties, + Doubts (FUDs)
+ Understand why FUDs are important + accept them as a normal part of writing
+ Invite your FUDs in to get to know them personally + embrace them
+ Look at why you're not writing + solve it
+ Design strategic action-plans + scripts that will fight for you when FUDs attack so you know exactly what to do
+ Defeat perfectionism, self-doubt, fear of failure/rejection, + other major writing blocks
+ Emerge as a confident + courageous writer ready to tackle your work
*LOOKING FOR A REAL+GOOD PLACE TO START?
It's really that simple!
I know there are other writers suffering like I was. Maybe you’re one of them. I know the excuses we use to avoid writing, and I now know how to beat them. I know the fears of rejection, the weight of imposter syndrome and self-doubt, and I now know how to conquer them. I know what it’s like to watch your writing dreams live out of reach, and I got sick of it. So I know now how to go after what I want, achieve my goals, and transform my dreams into my reality. And it’s amazing.
Now, I’m sharing everything I’ve learned with you. I want you to live a writing life full of passion, commitment, and joy. I want you to shed the chains of rejection, self-doubt, and fear, so your writing can shine and you can enjoy the process of writing again. I want you to write confidently, fearlessly, happily. I want you to dream big writing dreams, take risks to go after them, and transform them into your reality.
I want you to be a happy and productive writer. Are you ready for that?
I'm on a never-ending quest to be a Real+Good Writer, just like you, and I’m documenting my journey to provide a road-map for you. I’m here as a friend—a friend that’s on the same road you are, feeling the same fears, struggling with the same failures, and striving for the same success. I'm not perfect (I'll be a student of the craft forever), but I want to be a master writer. I want to write Real+Good Writing, I want to be a Real+Good Writer.
And that's why I'm here. That's why The Write-Brain Formula exists.
**This post previously linked to the online course that walks students through the mastering the Write Brain Formula. A new and improved online course is coming in the near future. Stay tuned!
Happy (+Productive) Writing!
How do you conquer your writer's brain? How do you live a happy and productive writing life?