In this post, I give an update on my book writing journey and share how acting the part can help you stay the course as you pursue a creative dream.
We all have creative dreams. Maybe yours is to see your work in an art gallery, host a retreat, write a screenplay, or design a planner that can be found on the shelves of Anthropologie.
One of my creative dreams is to write and publish a fiction book. Two years ago, I took the first step by committing to a daily writing practice, which ultimately led to a finished manuscript.
If you enjoy behind-the-scenes content, you can find my writing journey chronicled on this blog, in emails, on my podcast, and on Instagram. But it’s been quite a while since I’ve shared an update. The primary reason is because I don’t have any exciting news, but also because I have sort of stopped acting the part of a writer?
The dream remains intact: write and publish a fiction book. My actions suggest otherwise.
If you’re someone who has been creative dreaming more than doing lately, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to have a discussion about “acting the part.”
The challenges in pursuing a dream
But first, let’s have a little whine-fest and get all the excuses out of the way. It’s challenging enough to start pursuing a creative dream. Finishing it is damn hard. After all, we are up against:
In my case, they have come as a result of submitting my manuscript to literary agents to obtain representation. Though I’ve only sent about 20 queries so far, it somehow feels as though I’ve received 100 rejections.
If you’ve been trying to put yourself out there and aren’t getting the response you hoped for, I understand how demoralizing it feels.
I can’t speak for all creative pursuits, but the traditional book publishing world feels like being trapped in the worst doctor’s waiting room of all time. Nobody gives you updates, and there are definitely no magazines to pass the time.
The only thing worse than the aforementioned nos is receiving no response at all. Sometimes the waiting is for nothing, and it’s awful to feel like you’ve wasted time, but it’s part of the process if you believe it’ll be worth it.
A lack of self-worth
Nobody will ever care about your dream as much as you do, and that is a lot of responsibility. It’s one thing to believe in the outcome, another to trust that you’re personally capable of making it happen.
When it comes to pursuing a creative dream, the question we are really asking is: am I worth it?
I love doing assignments, especially ones with deadlines and paychecks. Creative dreams don’t always come with those perks.
It’s up to you to keep showing up, but even the most disciplined people struggle to stay the course when there is no immediate incentive.
Since I stopped my daily writing routine, I’ve found it challenging to make measured progress on this book project. Most days, I don’t know what action to take, so I do nothing.
Acting the part
James Clear’s Atomic Habits teaches us that the easiest way to establish a new habit is not to assign yourself a new task but become the person who already does it. In other words, to act the part.
What would a screenwriter do? What would an artist with a licensing deal do? What would a creative leader do?
Where do they hang out? Who do they spend time with? How often do they practice their craft?
These are the questions I’ve been asking myself as I continue to pursue this dream of writing and traditionally publishing my fiction book. The following is a bit of motivation I’ve outlined for myself, and I hope it might help you too.
Stay immersed in the world
When I think about the individuals I interact with most days, it’s my husband, a product manager, and my cats, who mostly lay around and demand to be fed.
I’m blessed with many creative people in my life, but very few of them are writers, and none of them write fiction books. I realized that I needed access to more people in this world I’m trying to inhabit.
I recently began re-listening to a fantastic podcast called The Sh*t No One Tells You About Writing, hosted by a writer and two literary agents. I also joined Manuscript Academy, an online writing community. And I have forced myself to participate in the live Zoom calls, even though it goes against my introverted ways.
Are you trying to pursue your creative dream on a desert island? What small action can you take to integrate yourself into the world you hope to be a part of?
Hone your craft
My guy Malcolm Gladwell has shared that you need to log your 10,000 hours to become an expert. I believe that even when those 10,000 hours are completed, you should continue to learn and grow.
Confidence is bred from familiarity, so even on the days when you feel like you aren’t making any progress, as long as you’re showing up, you’re moving forward.
In addition to participating in Manuscript Academy’s community events, I’ve been going through their library of lessons on writing and publishing, making me feel more equipped.
But no education is more powerful than showing up to do the work.
Keep showing up
I needed to establish a daily writing routine to ensure I wouldn’t stop. I skipped the step of asking: “should I write today?” and got right to it because I didn’t give myself another option.
When I stopped, so did my consistent progress. Starting Monday, the day this is published, I’m recommitting to my daily writing practice.
What kind of routine would work best for you? Can you commit to showing up for your creative dream at least a couple of days a week? If you’re reading this on a random day of the week, now is the perfect time to start. I began my last writing practice on a Thursday.
Have a side project
With my first manuscript complete, I’m excited to share that I’ve started working on a second book. Publishing my first book remains the priority. But in the meantime, I have another story to tell, and I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to keep working towards those 10,000 hours.
If your main project is draining you, is there another project you could pursue that feels more fun? When it comes to our creative work, I think it’s healthy to have a little something on the side. Especially if it’s in alignment with your big dream.
Stay accountable and start acting the part
As I begin this new stage of writing, I’ll be returning to my daily posting on Instagram as I did while crafting my first manuscript. If it helps you to see a fellow creative show up through all of it: the highs, the lows, and the mundane, I invite you to follow me on my journey.
If you’re currently pursuing a creative dream, I’d love to hear about it and offer you encouragement. Start acting the part, dreamer. You are worth it.