I’ve been working hard at creating an intentional writer life, and it’s been way harder than I thought it would be. That’s why today I’m sharing five ways you can create an intentional writer life.
One thing I’ve noticed over the last few years is that some people don’t want you to change.
Sure, generally, your friends and family want what best for you. But they also don’t like to acknowledge when they may be contributing to the contrary. And when you couple that with living in a culture that praises hustle, consumerism, and doing what “you’re supposed to do,” it can feel like an impossible task.Sure, generally, your friends and family want what best for you. But they also don't like to acknowledge when they may be contributing to the contrary. Click To Tweet
That’s why I thought I’d share these five tips to help you out on your quest to creating an intentional writer life.
I’m not saying this is the only way, but these are things that I’ve been doing, and they seem to have made a big difference in how I approach my everyday life.
(Pssst! Check out this post if you’re interested in slow living.)
Creating an Intentional Writer Life
001: Know your goal and keep it in mind.
I kind of hinted at this in last week’s YouTube video about how to quit your job to write full time, but I’d like to dig deeper into this idea.
If you want to quit your job to write, you need to make choices that enable that.
If you want to travel the world and live out of a backpack, then you have to make choices that enable that.
If you want to run a marathon in under 4 hours, you have to make choices that enable that.
It sounds simple. And yet, there are so many people who never hit the goals they set for themselves. And a lot of it comes down to giving into habits that don’t support the goal.
It’s easy to spend money on things that people tell you that you need. Maybe you do need granite countertops and brand new appliances. But if your old stove works and there’s a counter to speak of, the old stuff is fine and you can save that money to travel the world or quit your job to write.
If you want to run a marathon in under 4 hours of your habit of skipping workouts to go out keeps getting in the way, you’re never going to reach that goal.
Knowing your goal and keeping it in mind is going to be a game changer. Consistently thinking about what you want prevents you from giving in to bad habits, and keeps you on track.
(I talked about this idea a little in my marathon mindset post.)
002: Unplug waaaaaaaaay more.
It can be really hard to be conscious, intentional decisions when you’re living inside your phone.
I know it can sound weird, but that’s the way the apps are designed. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram — all my favorite online places — use psychological tricks to keep you on their site so you view more ads and they make more money.
If you feel like you need to check your social media RIGHT NOW, it’s because they want you to feel that way. If you feel like you need to buy those shoes you saw advertised on Instagram, it’s because Instagram wants you to feel that way.
I know you probably already know this.
But I think it’s worth repeating.It can be really hard to be conscious, intentional decisions when you're living inside your phone. Click To Tweet
So, if you are trying to create an intentional life where your goals are the focus, then you should unplug way more. You’re way less likely to lose time to scrolling through your phone, and you’re not going to feel compelled to make these purchases or choices that may not align with your goals.
I’m not saying you have to give up the internet completely. That would be stupid for a blogger to say.
I am saying you should be more intentional about how you use the internet. And you should definitely take some time away from screen so that you can keep your goals in mind and keep the subconscious messages from taking over your plans.
003: Recognize where your choices are.
We’ve all heard that a yes to one thing is a no to something else, right?
Basically, the idea is that if you agree to do something, you won’t have time in your schedule for another thing. If you’re saying yes to something you love, it’s perfect and it works out just fine.
But if you’re saying yes to something you don’t want to do? Well. We already talked about how you need to keep your goal in mind.
It can be easy to do stuff because it’s expected of us or because it seems easy or because we just like to say yes to please the person asking. But we should really only say yes because we want to do the thing.
And it’s worth noting that writing hard, and it’s always easy to say yes to something that isn’t writing.
So, even though you can feel like you have to do a thing — take a call, attend an event, help someone out — you still have a choice. So if you’re saying yes, make sure it really is a yes.
And if you totally forgot, remember that busy is a choice.
004: It’s all about the habits.
I’m not a neurologist. I don’t even play one on TV.
But I have a brain that seems to thwart me at every turn, so I feel like I’m marginally qualified to talk about bad habits and how easy it is to sink into them.
If you feel like you’re constantly doing things that prevent you from achieving your goals, that may be the case if your habits are counter to your goals. Building habits is hard. Following already built habits is easy.
So this intentional writer life is basically a series of new habits that I’m trying to follow in order to create the sort of life I want. But those bad habits I created while I was crazy depressed and stuck in a dead end job? They take work to wear down.
I recommend starting slowly. You can’t stop all your bad habits at once while simultaneously building the solid foundation for the good ones. Focus habit by habit, and slowly build the habits that are going to make it possible for you to live the way you want.
You will trip up. That’s kind of a guaranteed when it comes to habits. But get back on the horse and keep going.
(You can learn more about building up a writing habit here, or learn about how to create a good writing routine here.)
Building good habits and killing the bad ones is one of the harder steps when it comes to living an intentional life, but it’s definitely worth it.
005: Slow down and let your mind catch up.
There is a time to mentally run through the checklist items you have left, and a time to chill out and and interact with the humans and animals you love.
I can’t count how many times I’ve found myself getting irritated at my dog or boyfriend because DON’T THEY KNOW I’M PLOTTING OUT A NOVEL IN MY HEAD WHILE I SIMULTANEOUSLY COOK DINNER AND ANSWER EMAIL?
The answer is no. And I shouldn’t do that.
Sure, if an idea comes, I should entertain it and write it down. But multitasking on that level is never really that productive.
So I try to turn my laptop off as early as possible. Some days, that’s 2 PM. Other days, it’s 9 PM. When I’m spending time with my loved ones, I try to give them 100% of my attention. (If my boyfriend and I are cooking and chatting, then he gets 30% of my attention and the knife I’m using to chop veggies gets 70%, because I’m not great with sharp things.)
I have to remember why I want the life I’m working to build, and it’s always because I have people I want to share it with. So I need to be present for them as much as possible.I have to remember why I want the life I'm working to build, and it's always because I have people I want to share it with. Click To Tweet
How do you live intentionally as a writer?
What areas of your life are the easiest to keep your intentions? Do you struggle with habits too? When it comes to recognizing choices, what changed the game for you?