Wednesday, May 31, 2017

5 Steps to Becoming a Devoted Writer

by Jacob Cavett @JacobCavett

I used to find it difficult to call myself a writer. In many ways, I felt guilty giving myself a label I hardly earned while others had shelves crammed with their published works. I knew I had to start somewhere, but couldn’t help but be discouraged that I didn’t yet have an agent or book deal. Although I might need to have an inventory of works to be established, I don’t need any experience to be devoted to my craft. 


For fellow writers in the early stages of our careers, here are five steps that have helped me take writing seriously where I am:

1. Write on a Consistent Basis
It took me a while to understand I couldn’t just talk about writing, but I had to sit down and do it. As a full-time college student with a job and extra-curriculars, I fully understand that it can be hard to carve out time to put words on a blank page. One of the most important tokens of advice my writing mentor gave me was to write consistently. For some, that’s writing every day for an hour. Others aim for 2,000 words per week. Every Saturday night I take my laptop to a local coffee shop and write, even if that means turning down a night with friends or a well-deserved nap. I may only get to write 500 words once a week, but consistency is progress. If writing is important to me, I’ll make time for it.

2. Take Notes Regularly
Whenever I get an idea—good or bad—I rush to my favorite Moleskin notebook (thanks, Edie!) to scribble down something I can’t possibly afford to forget. I’ve already lost a handful of fresh ideas and refuse to let another slip away. I keep notes in my notebook, on my phone, and even on napkins. Notes are especially useful for later organization, monitoring progress, and analyzing critiques. I would recommend making your own system to best organize your thoughts for later reference. For example, I write special characters next to each of my notes to quickly find what I’m looking for, including question marks next to plot holes, exclamation marks next to points to remember, and stars next to details yet to be added.

3. Plug into a Critique Group
Critique groups have helped me become a better writer faster than anything else. I often find that others easily see my blind spots and the accompanying feedback significantly improves my writing. Although I typically meet with writer friends, I’ve also been to writers’ groups, such as my local ACFW chapter, and even exchanged critiques via e-mail. Do your best to meet consistently with your group, not only to review each other’s work but also to keep each other accountable for writing.

4. Network with Professionals
Make it a priority to not only critique and be critiqued, but also to network with other writers in general. Visit local writers’ organizations and attend a conference when you can, even if it means saving up a few hundred dollars for several months. Interacting with other writers, agents, and editors is priceless in whipping your work into shape and giving you the connections you need to move towards publication.

5. Pray For Your Writing
Conviction found me when I realized how important writing was to me, but how little time I spent in prayer about it. I found that my times of writing were much more fruitful when I thanked the Lord for the passion He gave me and the doors He’s opened. On top of thankfulness, pray that you would have the energy and focus to write with excellence. Pray that the Lord would purify your motives. Above all, pray your writing’s purpose is not simply inspirational or moral, but ultimately advances the gospel in one way or another.

If you’re in the early stages of your career and struggle to call yourself a writer, don’t worry—I’m right there with you. No matter where you are in your journey, you have the freedom to be as devoted to your craft as anyone else.

TWEETABLES


Jacob Cavett is an English, Communication, and Business student at Anderson University, as well as an intern at Community Journals in Greenville, South Carolina. There, he writes articles for the Greenville Journal and helps with social media. He finished the first draft of his novel, The Vineyard’s Keeper, under the mentorship of Edie Melson, a top writing professional. Jacob’s goal as a writer is to express the gospel to the general market through meaningful and entertaining allegory. Jacob enjoys indulging in ice cream, watching funny dog videos, and growing in Godly community.

Connect with him on jacobcavett.journoportfolio.com, and also through Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

10 comments:

  1. So glad to see you here Jacob, and to hear your words of wisdom! Blessings to you today.

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    1. Thank you, Danetta! I hope you're doing well.

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! Glad we got to meet at BRMCWC!

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  3. Excellent advice and reminders, Jacob. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations!

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    1. Thank you, Hope! Congratulations again on your award!

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  4. Thanks Jacob for those 5 points. I need to work harder on number 1 and 5. Keep moving forward!

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  5. Thanks Jacob for those 5 points. I need to work harder on number 1 and 5. Keep moving forward!

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