You are more than a writer.

There's this image of "The Writer" that permeates our culture: a solitary creature, so devoted to his or her craft that she writes EVERY DAY. Perhaps that means writing all day, from 9 to 5, and treating it like a job. Perhaps that means getting up at 5 a.m. and sacrificing sleep for writing. Or perhaps it means writing first thing, no matter what.

These approaches work for some writers, and certainly for those whose entire livelihoods are based on writing (Steven King and Dani Shapiro come to mind). I'll never argue against consistency and the importance of showing up. But there's a flip side to thinking you have to do it like they do: you feel guilty when you don't write, you question whether you're meant to do it, or you wonder if you're a fraud. 

It's time to stop aspiring to (and falling short of) approaches that don't work for you. Writing more and writing better isn't about writing every day or any writing rule you've read. It's about figuring out what works for you.

I'm sharing some shifts I made recently to my own writing life. Eight shifts that have helped me write more, write better and have more fun doing it. Here's the first one:

SHIFT #1: Embrace the knowledge that you are more than a writer.

I am a writing coach and a writer. But I'm also a partner, a dog mom, a daughter, and a friend. I love mountain biking and rock climbing. I love spending time with my man and our dog, especially on the road and camping. I like to hike with friends, go to yoga, and I like to cook. So sometimes? I don't write.

My inner critic used to have a field day with this. Its rants often started with, "If you were a real writer..." And that left me feeling guilty—especially because I'm a writing coach. Choosing not to write felt like an even graver sin given my occupation.

But here's the thing: feeling guilty or bad about your writing doesn't lend itself to creativity. In fact, it perpetuates the cycle of not writing.

When I feel bad about myself, it's awfully hard to feel creative. Yet when I got honest with myself, I realized that I don't want to give up any of those other parts of my life, or even downgrade them to a lower rung on my list of priorities. I moved to Colorado so I could live close to trailheads and spend time in nature. I started my own business instead of teaching at a university so I could help writers AND have the flexibility to get outside.

When I look back, my writing transformation began when I owned up to the fact that I am not a writer first, everything else second. Given a choice, I would not sacrifice my lifestyle for a "better" writing bio.

Something about that realization helped me relax. My writing choices weren't about failure. They were about living a full and rich life. Below, you'll find a prompt to help you uncover your priorities. Let's celebrate living full, varied and rich lives!

In addition to writing, what else is important in your life?

I'd love to hear in the comments or you can find me on facebook.

P.S. Ready for a writing breakthrough? Break free from writing rules that don't work and find your way with my FREE three-part series: Inside the Writers Mind. The first insight (and writing prompt) could be yours today.


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