change one thing
some good advice from Nicole Chung + one more day for 25% off pre-orders at Barnes & Noble!
Welcome to Write More! This is the your mid-month pop-in, which comes with ideas, encouragement, and writing prompts to keep you going. I also send out a monthly intentions email on the last Sunday before a new month starts that aims to help you think through your goals and intentions for your writing practice in the coming month and to reflect on your progress in the previous month. (For September, I had a great interview with poet and essayist Heather Lanier, and we talked about resisting the early fall/back to school desire to entirely reinvent your life and habits.)
Hello there! A quick note today, mostly just sharing a tidbit from Nicole Chung’s really excellent Atlantic newsletter, I Have Notes.
In her newsletter from the end of August, Chung wrote, to a writer struggling to balance freelance work with the dream of writing a novel:
In the end, what matters is that you’re spending the resources you have on the writing that is important to you. Think about what you may need in terms of space, goal setting, conservation of energy, a new routine, etc., in order to work on the projects that matter most to you, and pursue those goals in whatever ways you can. If there’s even one thing you can change, one thing you can do that will bolster or benefit your writing life, do it. Be patient with yourself, and try to trust that you’re capable of focus and growth in whatever time you can find.
She returned to one of those sentences—If there’s even one thing you can change, one thing you can do that will bolster or benefit your writing life, do it—the following week, and I’ve been thinking about that.
(I’ve also been thinking about the title of that most recent newsletter—What Could You Write If You Weren’t Afraid?—and how what you’re afraid of in your writing changes across a writing life. But that’s a topic for another time.)
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I’m a big fan of small steps in terms of process (if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed, just do one small thing), and I love the idea of applying this same concept to your writing life as a whole. Chung elaborates a little on the kinds of changes that can help sustain a writing practice:
We may not get enough writing time, or we might not write enough in the time we do get. We might feel there’s little we can actually do to change our situation. But often, there is something we can do that will benefit our writing practice—a boundary to set, a practical barrier to remove, a space to set up or claim—if only for an hour or two a week.
What’s one small thing you can change that will improve your writing life?
A couple ideas (some of which will likely be familiar to longtime readers of the newsletter):
stash a small notebook and pen in your purse/gym bag/car—basically anywhere you might get an idea. that way you don’t have any excuses for not recording it right away!
make one small space of your life a no-phone zone. I don’t take my phone when I walk to the exercise studio in my town, and those walks open up important space in my brain.
designate one lunch time a week your writing time
take a book and/or notebook to waiting spaces instead of your phone. (I’ll be on the soccer fields again this fall, hopefully reading and avoiding chit chat with the soccer dads.)
What ideas do you have? What boundaries can you set, or what barriers can you eliminate?
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One more note: Nicole Chung’s first book, All You Can Ever Know, is excellent—and her new book, A Living Remedy, is available for pre-order. It comes out in April and buying it now would make a lovely spring present to yourself or someone you love. (And through tomorrow, pre-orders are 25% off at Barnes & Noble with the code PREORDER25, so you could also order her book there.)
Write More, Be Less Careful is a newsletter about why writing is hard & how to do it anyway. Have a victory or an epiphany in your writing life you’d like to share? A struggle you’d like help with? Reply to this email, comment below, or find me on twitter (@nancy_reddy) and instagram (@nancy.o.reddy).
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