17 Steps to Accelerate Your Writing Life
November 10, 2022 § 26 Comments
How simple changes propelled my writing productivity beyond my imagination
By Bethany Jarmul
I’ve loved writing since I was a child, but I haven’t always made it a priority. Last year, I published two pieces of writing. I was thrilled with those publications, but when it was time to make my 2022 New Year’s resolution, I decided to go all-in: to give it my best effort for one year and see what would happen.
This year, I’ve had 33 pieces accepted for publication in literary magazines. Here are the changes I made to make this kind of productivity possible.
- I got serious about taking care of my mental health. My anxiety and depression were preventing me from writing. (I started therapy and medication.)
- I set a tiered goal for myself to publish a certain number of pieces. Even if I couldn’t achieve the top goal, I could achieve one of the smaller ones. I celebrated every time I reached a goal. (I’ve now surpassed my top goal of 25 publications!)
- I joined Twitter and found the #WritingCommunity. The support, encouragement, and inspiration I discovered there have been invaluable.
- I participated in writing classes and workshops to brush up on my skills and to force myself to meet deadlines.
- I joined one writing group and started a second one, building community and accountability for my writing life.
- I gave up activities that were filling my free time—mainly watching TV and mindless Instagram scrolling.
- I decided to follow my passions, to write whatever I wanted, to experiment, to dabble, to follow my whimsy, to write whatever gave me the most joy in that moment, not worrying about where it would get published or about staying in a particular genre.
- I decided to focus on writing and getting published instead of trying to make money or trying to get into the most prestigious mags—writing and sharing being the two things that brought me the most joy. I reframed writing as my super fun hobby.
- As a mom to two young kids, I decided to write in whatever small pockets of time I have, and to write in messy, loud spaces (because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t write at all). No more excuses about not having the time or the space. Having limited time became motivation to get words down. (I wrote another Brevity Blog post about how I do this here.)
- I submit a lot. Each piece of writing, I submit to a minimum of five places, sometimes up to 12 to 15 places at once in a wide array of lit mags. The more I submit, the less the rejections hurt and the more chances I have to get published.
- When in doubt, I submit anyway. If the piece might fit the submissions call, if there’s even a tiny chance the editors could choose my work, I submit. I don’t self-reject.
- I very rarely abandon work. I just keep editing and transforming it until it’s something better, or I pull pieces from one piece to use for something else.
- I don’t write every day, but I do think about writing every day. I brainstorm ideas and try to be aware of my surroundings, always searching for interesting people, facts, places, ideas in whatever is happening around me.
- If I’m too tired to write, I read. If I’m too tired to read, I sleep. I’ve learned to respect my body and mind when they tell me to rest. Pushing through exhaustion doesn’t lead to good writing. Getting rest and exercise in my life helps my writing.
- I befriended other writers, and the few friends that I already had who wrote I brought into my writing groups and spaces. Now my personal life includes other people who also are passionate about writing.
- I gave myself permission to fail, to try new things, to get rejected—again and again and again. Because if it was easy, that would take away some of the fun.
- I also gave myself permission to learn from others, to see myself as a student again. I’m not afraid to ask questions or reach out to others for ideas or help when I need it.
I originally published these tips on Twitter, and I’ve been blown away by the number of other writers who found them helpful. I’m grateful that I could offer something valuable to the writing community that has bolstered me many days when I needed the encouragement.
Whether you are a seasoned writer or brand new to writing, I’d love to connect with you on Twitter.
Bethany Jarmul is a writer, editor, and artist. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines and has been nominated for Best of the Net. She earned first place in Women On Writing‘s Q2 2022 essay contest. Bethany enjoys chai lattes, nature walks, and memoirs. She lives near Pittsburgh with her family. Connect with her on her website or on Twitter.