Favorite writing advice:
“Make a Writer’s Contract.” (you can read the whole article here)
Who said it:
Aimee Bender, novelist & creative writing professor
A Writer’s Contract basically outlines what you will do with your writing on a daily/weekly basis (like write so many hours a day, just weekdays/weekends, fiction only, in the mornings/afternoons/evenings, that kind of thing). It’s something that you do for yourself, putting in writing whatever guidelines you want to have (& if you want, you can have someone else hold you accountable to it). A Writer’s Contract gives structure to your writing intentions. Honestly, this has been some of the most helpful writing advice to keep my sanity and also have a life. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t spend every free moment writing something. I’m a writer after all, isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Problem is not having a life outside of writing was leading to exhaustion, frustration, and burnout, at least for me. Plus, it’s not a whole lot of fun walking around feeling guilty all the time. Or maybe you have the opposite problem and keep procrastinating and putting off writing. Well, with a Writer’s Contract, you can define your writing intentions & help yourself with that, too.
How it changed my writing:
I actually had made an agreement with myself before I read this advice, but it confirmed for me something I already knew & made me feel like I’m not alone & that yes, someone else struggles with the same thing, too. I didn’t make a pact with someone else; I made it with myself. I work a set amount of time every day on my writing and once I do that, the rest of the time is mine. It’s opened me up to relax, freed me from feeling like I’ve never done enough, and helped me be much more creative on and off the page because I’m not so worried and preoccupied with filling every moment writing. My life is a lot richer and fuller when I’m not constantly writing. Interestingly, my writing has become a lot richer, too.
So if you’re making yourself crazy thinking you have to constantly be writing or you want some creative structure or you’d just like permission to take a break, consider taking Bender’s advice and make a contract with yourself (& if you need accountability then make it with someone else, too).