If you didn’t know, 2018 is almost over, which means it’s time to take stock and make plans. And if you’re planning on building your writing career in 2019, here are 5 things writers should invest in.
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Now, fair warning: I feel that writing is a profession that you can spend a ton of money to get into. I also feel like it’s the sort of profession that also welcomes bootstrappers. So, regardless of your budget when it comes to investing in your writing career, there’s a way in and a seat at the table.
And I think it should be stated that money isn’t the only way that you should be investing in something. If you’ve got time, that’s something that can be a significant investment as well. You may not have money to go to a fancy MFA program, or the desire to take out the loans for it, but if you’ve got time, then you can practice writing and read everything you can get your hands on.
So keep these ideas in mind as you read this. Maybe you can’t buy everything. But you’ve got time to spend.
5 Things Writers Should Invest In
001: A good computer.
So, after I said you don’t have to have a ton of money to be a writer, I’m telling you to buy a good computer. But let me explain. The reason for this is because 1.) You need to be able to type what you’re working on at some point, and 2.) You don’t want a machine that’s going to glitch out and eat your writing all the time. So you need something reliable that will do what you need.
This doesn’t mean that you need a $5,000 Mac desktop. But if you want that and can afford it, go for it. At the end of the day, you just need a machine that will run the programs you need. So, based on your favorite word processors, find a machine that’s compatible with those. This can be a standard laptop, a tablet, or even a really affordable Chrome Book. If your end goal for your computer is just going to be something that allows you to type and save things to the cloud, you don’t need to go all out here. (And ignore anyone else that tells you otherwise. You know what you need, and people who actually believe advertisements from computer companies do not have your best interests at heart.)
Honestly, I think writers really never stop learning, and they tend to absorb things from the air around them. So, if you’re a writer, your whole life is education. But when it comes to constructing a story and such, you may want to do some specific research into the world of writing. Now, you can go the traditional route and get some education via a university or college, but I’d like to provide other options as well, especially since those institutions have recruiting departments and they don’t need me to do their dirty work.
If you’ve never looked into the votechs and adult education centers around your area, I think you should. I’ve taken a lot of really good classes at places like that, and can’t recommend them enough. Also, a lot of public libraries offer free classes for library members, and there’s a chance your library will have some too. But if in-person classes aren’t your thing, Skillshare has a ton of great writing classes from really legit people. And don’t discount the education you can get from some books on writing.
003: Time management.
Ah, time management, the writer’s best friend/worst enemy. I feel like writers fall into one of two camps: You’re either a hella planner who is obsessively tracking time to get the most out of productivity, or you’re the free spirit type who writes when you want to and you consider time management a myth. Given the number of planning posts I have published in the past year, I think you know which side of the line I fall on.
But if you’re looking to get some time management skills under your belt for the new year, you don’t have to go out and buy a fancy planner. Think about what you need to do in order to be more productive, and then figure out systems that will enable that. You may simply need to do lists. You may need Google Calendar. Whatever works for you is your best choice. The key, though, is to invest the time and energy into finding ways to make you work better so you can get the most out of your writing time. I just purchased and completed Sarra Cannon’s HB90 Method planning course, and it was like three days of epiphanies. So don’t be afraid take the time for a course or some YouTube videos to learn new planning and time management skills.
004: Networking opportunities.
Writers, generally speaking, hate the word “networking.” I can’t say that I blame them, as I don’t 100% fall into the super social camp. But I do know that I get a lot from a face to face with a writer. Whether I’m at a blogging conference or a Travel Massive meet up, I like being able to talk to others who do what I do, and see what has been working for them.
And while sometimes there are conferences that are super expensive to attend, there are also cheap options. Meetup.com is a great way to find if there are writers in your area looking to get together and chat. I’m a member of several blogging collectives, and I even met some good folks during NaNoWriMo at the writing meet ups. So, don’t worry if you can’t attend AWP, or you don’t want to schmooze at the conference happy hour. There are opportunities everywhere, and some of them are even free.
005: Good habits.
At the end of the day, what good is it to be a writer if you don’t ever take some time to actually write? If your writing habit isn’t strong, and you just show up when you feel like it, it doesn’t really matter if you’ve built up this grand network because you won’t ever be able to put it to good use. That’s why writers really need to invest in their writing habit, and this is the one that is 100% time-based.
I’ve talked about how to build a writing habit before, but it’s important to note that this is a thing that happens over time. And it involves more than just showing up to do some writing. You want your process to be as healthy as possible, so if you can only build the habit while consuming three Red Bulls a day, you’ll definitely want to rethink that. For now, focus on what you want out of your writing, and take some time to build a habit that supports that.
What Else Should Writers Invest In?
What’s one thing writers should do in 2019 to invest in their career? What one purchase has changed the game for you as a writer? When it comes to spending time, where should writers allot what little time they have? Let me know in the comments!