With the New Year around the corner, many of us are excited to start new writing projects or dive into old ones. If you have multiple writing projects on your plate, it can be challenging to decide where to spend your precious time and energy.
How to Focus Your Writing Time and Energy
That can be even harder if you’ve been working on your memoir for a long time. Stories grow and change over time, and sometimes we need to let go of an outdated vision in order to make way for a new one. Other times, the beating heart of the project is still there, waiting for us.
The trick is in consciously deciding.
Oftentimes, we put off choosing in a misguided attempt at keeping ourselves safe. But that just keeps us stuck. And it keeps our dreams on the back burner.
So today, let’s consciously choose where you’d like to put your time, energy and creative resources.
Writing Prompts to Explore
Pull out a pen and paper and give yourself a few minutes to explore the following questions. Consider lingering writing projects as well as new ones.
- Am I still passionate about this project?
- Is there something still calling me about this project? Is there something here that in exploring or figuring out?
- Does my project still feel alive? If I fan the embers, is there something still there? Or does it feel ready to be packed away, thanked and Marie-Kondoed?
- If I do move on, what’s the cost of that? If I’m feeling pulling to move on to a new project, is this a project I’ll stick with? What will this decision mean to me in 5, 10, 20 years?
- Is there something else pushing for my attention? If so, is it a shiny object, or something I truly feel passionate about?
- Will writing this story matter on my deathbed?
- If I could only choose one writing project to work on for the next year, what would it be?
- Is this the right season to work on my essay/book? If not now, when? What needs to change in my life to make my story a priority?
- Am I waiting for time, inspiration or permission to write my story? If so, what would that look like?
Those are big questions, I know. But they’re important ones.
As someone who spent the first half of her writing career not seeing projects through, I’m all too familiar with the costs of waiting.
Lack of confidence.
Not thinking anything is good enough.
Falling into perfectionism in a misguided attempt at keeping yourself safe.
I wrote 3 books before publishing my first book: 9 Steps to Heal Your Resentment and Reboot Your Marriage. This was a self-help book I wrote in response to a popular post on Reboot Your Marriage, a blog I ran about 10 years ago.
Those first 3 projects all fell by the wayside because I didn’t see them through. After getting some early rejections (alongside words of encouragement) I allowed my inner critic to take the helm. Before long, I gave up.
Instead of consciously pursing those heart projects, I let myself get distracted by smaller, less important ones. Meanwhile, my primary projects slowly receded. As the years passed, the light dimmed.
I tried to reignite those projects a few times over the years, but by that time, it was too late. They were gone.
Those books were all passion projects, too. Projects I’d spent years on. Books I cared about deeply.
Ironically, I wrote my self-help book because it was a good way of getting my feet wet with the publishing process. Perhaps not-so-ironically, I needed that foundation to finish The Secret Life of Grief: A Memoir.
Just like I needed the foundation of my grief memoir to do the writing I’m doing now.
That’s the magic of making a choice. Not choosing keeps you stuck.
We think this one might pan out. Or hey, how about this one.
We wait. We give away our power.
But what if you could take back your power instead? What if you could give yourself permission instead of waiting for someone else to give it to you?
That’s the power of making a conscious decision.
With kindness and compassion,
P.S. Registration for the January cohort of Memoir Mastery: How to Write a Compelling Memoir is open. If you’re ready to clarify your narrative arc, tighten up the craft and technique of your memoir and get support for your heart and soul as you’re writing, I invite you to join us!
Memoir Mastery is not your typical creative writing class. Writing a full-length book is a much different process than crafting a short piece, and it’s why we spend so much time on narrative arc and structure as well as safety and mindset. Craft is important, but you’ll need all of these tools to get to the finish line.
Many clients have told me how thankful they were for these unique aspects of Memoir Mastery–despite their initial reluctance to take “yet another course.”
Use the following coupon codes to save 15% if you register by midnight MST Sunday, January 2, 2022.
Be sure to click “apply coupon” before you check out:
- Pay in full option: EARTH
Payment plan option: EARTHPLAN
Click here to learn more and register. We start on Wednesday, January 12, 2022.
P.P.S.: Questions? Email me at tanja[at]tanjapajevic[dot]com and I’ll get back to you within 48 business hours.
Please note: our office will be closed from December 29-January 3.
Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!
I’m sitting here on Jan. 29 with a 300-page draft I thought was a manuscript for a memoir because I didn’t know any better and now I need to re-write the arc and get back at it. I started in a writing class in July 2020. I am still passionate about the topic, but just didn’t know which bite to take–it involves mental illness–my own and finding a way to get out from under with lithium and the two-year struggle to get a diagnosis, the drug, and ending my marriage when I realized it was not healthy for me. Then raising my daughter alone to college graduation. Still too long, but that’s the story to a happy ending.
Memoir can be tricky since it often involves re-envisioning the narrative arc, and it’s not as linear of a path as we think. It sounds like you’re gaining clarity on what you have, and are still passionate about the project, which is important. Keep going!
If you decide you’d like some additional support, I’m going to be offering a new course called Navigating the Messy Middle in late February. Reach out if you’d like more info or you can join my list here to receive updates.