Tag Archive for: writing support

After an up-and-down month in May with some extreme writing highs and lows concurrent with my vacillating mental health, I decided June needed to be about kindness. Mostly that was kindness in the way I treated and talked to myself, but I also allowed for kindness related to my writing. This writing kindness wasn’t just about writing kind things (though I did a lot of low stakes writing in June), it was about being kind to my writing life, accepting things for how they are, and recontextualizing what productivity and progress means.

The writing life is often NOT kind. We spend hours isolated, chipping away at our ideas, only to have to rewrite and revise and polish (and then rewrite and re-polish)—then to be told all the things we did wrong, or could do better by editors, agents, and audience. The stories we actually manage to finish and publish can be our dearest creations and still be met by rejection or—worse—apathy. The writing business is not kind, which means that writers need to be as kind to ourselves as possible.

What does writing kindness look like in terms of a writing life?

First, it means throwing out expectations and rules dictating what a writing life “should” be.

Do you have to write every day? Nope.
Do you have to write 1,000 words a day? Also, no.
Do you have to write for at least an hour every time you write? Very no.
Write from an outline?
Use Scrivener?
Draft in a Moleskine notebook with your literal blood, sweat, and tears?

Hopefully you’ve caught on that the answer to all those questions is no—unless of course any of those things are part of YOUR writing process. But none of them are part of every writing process and none of them mean you are a “real” writer simply by subscribing to them.

Beyond putting aside what you think a writing life should be, an important writing kindness is changing what you’ll accept as productivity.

Some days writing productivity might mean writing 1,000 words. Other days writing productivity might mean thinking about your story in spare moments as you’re in the shower, folding clothes, or sitting in traffic. Dreaming up character backgrounds and names, working through worldbuilding details, outlining or researching—all of those things can be writing productivity!

Writing does not always mean writing because a lot of writing is thinking. It’s coming up with options, and then making decisions. And to come up with those options, you have to spend time thinking.

If you happen to be someone driven by word counts (cough, me, cough), then you can write down those options and thinking and brainstorming, so you can “get credit” for that productivity, but YOU DON’T HAVE TO! Be kind to yourself! Be kind to your writing life!

Another way to treat your writing life with kindness—and this is one I’m looking to develop more—is by surrounding yourself with supportive people.

Find readers and other writers who will tell you what you’ve written is wonderful and who will encourage you to keep going. Find someone who is so excited for the idea you’re currently obsessed with and check in with them to feed from their enthusiasm. Find a writing group that is interested in what you’re writing. Find people you can talk to about your work. Don’t accept jerks or critics into your creation process! Surround yourself with kindness and wear that kindness like armor and a shield to protect yourself from all the times writing is not kind.

It’s good to be kind to yourself and your writing life because so many other things will not be kind. Writing kindness is one way writers can cope with the rejection and isolation that’s baked into the writing process and find the motivation to keep going.



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The main difference between finishing a project and not is often confidence. The confidence we feel about our creative work is what keeps us going through the hiccups, the rough days, and the multiple revisions. It helps us make choices, stick with them, and show our work to other people. Confidence in our creativity is what gets us to write in the first place—and what sees us through to the end.

Friends, let me tell you, this month my creative confidence has been shaky.

It’s no great secret I’m a planner by nature. (Have you been around here for ten seconds? I talk about it constantly and probably have it documented in a spreadsheet.) I leave space in all my writing plans for some serendipitous pantsing—a connection or worldbuilding detail that blooms as I draft and will be folded in to enhance what’s already planned—but by and large, I draft an outline, I set a scene list, and I follow that basic structure.

The reason I follow that structure is not because that’s the way I should write, it’s because, largely, it’s a solid structure! I know what I’m doing when I plan out a story. I’ve internalized story structure through all my watching and reading and studying, so that when I record my plan and step through the story, everything makes sense and builds to satisfying climaxes and resolved character arcs. When I start rearranging the furniture as I draft, it becomes very obvious why I arranged the events in this order in the first place.

It’s been frustrating this month when my brain just hasn’t wanted to write the scene that way. When I get stuck in a moment and can’t find my way out without inventing a new twist or direction in the plot. When I think the timeline is both too long and too short because (wait for it)… I lost my creative confidence.

The problem isn’t that my story plan was wrong or weak or lacking in any way. My problem is that I’m having difficulty in other areas of my life and it’s shaking my confidence. Since writing comes from our emotions and current headspace, mental health is key to a writer’s ability to write. When stress, anxiety, or depression affects us, it can stop us in our tracks in huge ways unless we can find some way to maintain our creative confidence.

I’m regaining it in fits and spurts—and I’m almost through this chapter that’s been plaguing me—but creative confidence is an ongoing struggle. If you’ve been struggling with your confidence, I hope you can find some solace in knowing you’re not the only one and I hope you find your confidence again soon.



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This past month I hit a wall in my work-in-progress. I really struggled revising the end of a chapter and making it feel ~complete. What I wrote was fine, but it wasn’t really good, and it didn’t do the things a chapter end should do (specifically both wrap up and carry forward). And the whole frustrating experience made me think a lot about when writers should ask for help and what kind of help they should seek.

In general, my advice for writers is that they take a story as far as they can independently before asking for outside feedback and assistance. What that means will vary writer to writer and project to project. Sometimes that might be the end of a second draft, and other times the end of a fourth or fifth draft. Or sometimes it might be the end of one specific chapter that is driving you to drink and perhaps you just desperately need someone who can see the forest instead of every damn tree!


The kind of feedback a writer seeks depends on what they are prepared to do with the story after receiving feedback. Sometimes, like in my chapter, I need someone who can be a genius and help me pinpoint what’s wrong. That’s when I need focused feedback that will lead to a revision. Other times I really am just looking for positive reinforcement. For someone not just to tell me something doesn’t suck, but to say that it’s good (maybe even great).

The latter type of feedback is performed by Cheerleaders, and the former we’ll classify as the work of Problem-Solvers.

Cheerleaders usually come from your friends and family. They’re people who care about your emotional wellbeing more than your writing. They’re not going to lie to you, but they aren’t going to nitpick your grammar either. Cheerleaders are so important during a first draft to encourage you to keep translating your story from thoughts to prose, but they can also be important during revision while you’re crafting that first draft mess into an understandable narrative. Cheerleading support can take the form of an enthusiastic first reader or an accountability partner, or someone else who is generally excited every time you tell them you put words on the page. Cheerleaders help you finish whatever stage of the project you’re on, but they don’t help you make your writing better.

Problem-Solvers can come from your friends and family but should be familiar with your genre and are preferably either well-read or are a writer or editor. They’re going to help you pinpoint weaknesses and problem areas and, hopefully, guide you toward solutions and stronger writing. (Solution guidance is sometimes, “Have you tried X? Y? Z? AA? Etc.”) Problem-solvers are helpful when you’re stuck in a revision quagmire and can’t figure a way out (or can’t decide if the revision does the thing you need it to do). Their feedback can help you make a list of issues to address in your next revision or identify ways to polish up a nearly there piece. You can hire a problem-solver (hello), but if you’re hiring work, absolutely have a complete draft of your manuscript—you’ll get much better, more comprehensive feedback if the editor can see the whole forest.

Whether you’re looking for actionable feedback or for support, know what you need and what to ask for. I didn’t get Problem-Solver help on my end of chapter conundrum, but the Cheerleading I received encouraged me to move on and not waste time agonizing since I had another chapter to revise. The time away from the chapter allowed me to figure out what was wrong, and when I went back for a final revision—hooray! The chapter now wraps up and carries forward. So while thinking about where to get advice, never forget that the best adviser you have for your writing might be yourself.



For full access to The Write Life, sign up on Patreon for $1 or more per month. You’ll also receive a personalized thank you in a future edition of The Write Life.