For those of us who feel the tug toward words and books, toward verse and ink on the page, writing may feel like second nature, like a gift. For many of us, it even feels like a lifeline—a way to uncoil our thoughts, understand our existence and connect to our truest selves.
But after our years of school end, how do we continue to grow as writers? How do we invest in this passion? Is it even worth it? If we aren’t going to write a best-seller or even make money writing, can we justify giving the craft more time and expense?
Yes. In fact, I believe that we must invest in what brings us fully alive, even—and especially—if it isn’t “profitable” from the world’s perspective. Instead, we must ask ourselves if our souls will prosper from time spent clacking at the keyboard and penning words into journals. If so? Then we have our answer.
Here are four ways to invest in our desire to grow as writers—as women who live fully alive in our gifts and callings:
1. Take a writing class.
Most of us won’t have time to drive across town to take a traditional college or graduate writing class, but there are other choices are available. Online writing courses, communities and cohorts are wonderful options for writers who need to fit their love for words in the margin of their lives. For example, I teach a live, online writing course.
2. Respond to consistent writing prompts.
The best way to become a better writer? Write! It seems simple, but it can be difficult to actually sit down on a regular basis and write for ten or twenty minutes, especially if you don’t know what to focus on. In order to stretch your writing muscles, aim to respond to three or four prompts a week. You can time yourself—say, five or ten minutes per response—and write in whatever direction the prompt takes you. My guess? You’ll probably be surprised where your words lead! Pick up a book like this or head to this website for a dose of regular writing prompts.
…we must invest in what brings us fully alive, even—and especially—if it isn’t ‘profitable’ from the world’s perspective.
3. Read the writers who inspire you.
Growing as a writer means learning from others, and reading the work of the writers you admire is a wonderful way to see strong writing in action. But when you read, don’t read just for the storyline or the ending—read with an eye toward style and voice, with the perspective of a sleuth and not a consumer. While pleasure reading can be relaxing, the act of intentionally reading as a writer is one of the best ways to grow in your understanding of the craft. Read here for books that will help you strengthen your craft as a writer.
4. Enter writing contests.
If you invest even a small amount of money in an entry fee for a writing contest (fees are used to pay for judges and overhead costs at most journals), it’s likely that you’ll take your writing more seriously. Along with the clear guidelines and set-in-stone deadlines, writing contests can offer structure and direction when we don’t know what to focus on in our work. You can search here for writing contests by genre, cost, and date.
To learn more from Ann, register for her online writing class at www.writingwithgrace.com.
How do you invest in your passion for writing? What ways have you found to grow as a writer?
Image via Madison Holmlund