I have one diary from my childhood years. It’s a collection of thoughts and stories from a month-long study abroad trip I took in high school. Every few years (usually when I’m moving and it needs to get packed in a box), I read through it.
And then I wonder what on Earth I was thinking. Yes, it’s lovely that I have a record of one of my favorite experiences as a teenager. But it’s so… navel-gazing. Even more than being your typical cringe-worthy high-school angst, it’s just more of me than I need to look back on.
This type of reflection is not something I find helpful, either in the act of creation or review. To me, it’s a lovely idea, but in reality, it doesn’t fit the way my mind works.
Writing is, generally speaking, a solitary activity. Sure, working at a busy coffee shop or out of a co-working space gives you access to people, but if writing = work, then when you’re working, you’re very much in your own head.
It’s important for writers to find other people to interact with, of course. We all need friends and social contacts.
But if you write professionally, you must find the right people to engage with from a professional perspective. You might belong to a writing group that shares critiques of each other’s work, or one that is more about accountability and getting stuff done.
You might belong to a professional association that gives you a business network and maybe a place to look for gigs. Or a Facebook group that functions in the virtual networking space.
One opportunity you might be overlooking, though, is writing conferences.
I’m not into “woo” things. I don’t meditate, I don’t get mind mapping, and I’m not big on “lifestyle design” (although I find value in some of its components).
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, either. The task is arbitrary and pressure-filled, and resolutions are virtually impossible to stick to. If you want to set up yourself for disappointment, just make a list of “goals” that you’re probably not going to achieve/attain.
So, when I ended up somewhat randomly in a “Writing a Manifesto” workshop at a conference, I was skeptical. Like, full-on MythBusters skeptical.
You have an idea! That’s great. It’s the start of a beautiful journey where you research and write your way to an expert level of awesomeness.
You jot down some notes, think about people you want to interview, and maybe even make an outline.
And then you open up your favorite newspaper, blog, or magazine: Right there, in shining block letters, is your awesome idea in print.
We’ve all experienced this feeling of despair, seeing someone else write about our idea. Especially if you were so sure that your idea was original. You might feel like you can’t ever write about that idea because someone else got to it first.