Just One Thing

I achieved a writer goal earlier this week by making an appearance on one of my favourite podcasts – Luke’s Massive Storytelling Podcast Thing. I’ve written about the show here before but it’s hosted by Luke Kondor, one of the head honchos at the magnificent Hawk & Cleaver who produce The Other Stories podcast.

I chatted with Luke about “writing like a pro” which considering I don’t make a whole lot of money from my writing might be slightly misleading on my part but the main feeling here is adopting a professional mindset. Just because I’m not earning big money from doing what I love doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take it seriously and treat it like a real job. After all, writing is real work as anyone who has ever finished a novel can attest.

One thing I’ve been meaning to write about for a while now is something that’s tangential to my writing routine. Every day I write a minimum of 1,000 words Monday – Friday. I give myself the weekends off as they’re often hectic (and unpredictable) and I like to spend as much time as possible with my wife and daughter.

I’ve previously posted about training myself to cram writing sessions into short time periods, it hasn’t come easily but it does work for me. Now it’s a routine and has been for years, it feels like it’s lost a bit of its impact. I used to get a real visceral rush from making 1,000 words in the early days, nowadays, it’s what I expected from myself so I’ve had to invent other ways to keep me going.

I’ve started trying to make sure that in addition to the 1,000 words, I’m doing one extra “writer” thing a day. I try to do something else on top of that that will add something to my writer’s toolbox. Some days I’ll listen to an author podcast or interview for some inspiration or tips, other days I’ll hunt down an article or watch a quick YouTube video to give the edge. My favourite days are when I can beta read stories for my friends.

Some days, simply reading extra is what gets me there. I read in bed every night like most of us but I’ve started sneaking extra in through audiobooks or reading while my daughter watches TV or when I get a quiet moment as she’s going to bed.

This isn’t something I necessarily record but it’s something I always strive to do. Quite often in the past, if I found myself with a spare ten minutes I’d put the TV on and catch up on the news or the football highlights. Those things are great but it really got me thinking about what they added to my life. They were like junk food for my time. Tasty and nice in the moment, but long-term they didn’t do anything good for me. So I chopped them out. Now I sneak podcasts or reading into those gaps and try to soak up as much knowledge or useful input as possible.

It doesn’t take much but trying to cram in one extra writing “thing” every day has made a real difference. That way, when I go to bed every night, I can point to that one thing beyond writing that I did today to try to help me improve as a writer. It all counts.

I’ve also included a link to a few things that have been helping me lately. Let me know if any of them work for you: –

Will Dean Author Channel on YouTube. Will’s channel is so helpful and generous with very candid advice about getting an agent, staying in the author mindset and finding out some great books to read.

The Failing Writers podcast. I’ve only just discovered this one but they’ve had some great interviews with Gillian McAllister and CJ Tudor (amongst others) about going from writing zero to hero.

Chuck Palahniuk newsletter. Chuck has just started a new newsletter through Substack (where he will eventually publish a novel) in which he discusses craft, resourcefulness and mindset for writers. So far, it’s been excellent.

Writer Unboxed. This one slipped off my radar for a while but it’s back in a big way. There are so many articles and columns on here to dig into, covering pretty much every writing topic you can imagine.

And of course, if you fancy checking out what I’ve been on about during my appearance on Luke’s show, click the mildly terrifying picture of my face below to get the podcast into your ears.

Until next time.