Episode 46: Writing in the Midst of Uncertainty
How do you keep your writing going during times of upheaval and uncertainty? It’s possible to keep making progress, but you do need to have some tools to draw on.
Uncertainty is a norm in our lives. Some times are rife with upheaval on a large scale, like our current moment in 2020: unknowns and extra stressors due to Covid-19, unrest and striving for change due to a long overdue racial reckoning…it’s an uncertain moment in history. But even in our “normal” lives, uncertainty is a factor. Someone might get sick, you might have a loss in the family or a change in circumstances.
When life takes unpredictable turns, how do you make progress on your writing projects? In a word: systems. You need to have a variety of tools to pull from, that you can apply in different ways at different times, in order to roll with the punches life throws. Here are some of the tools and skills we teach in our programs to help you maintain a practice no matter what is happening in your circumstances.
Parts of a Writing System
- Regular Writing Sessions and/or Co-Writing Times
First let me say that a word count goal every day is not what I’m talking about here; that won’t help you when your calendar gets crazy. But planning writing times during your most focused, high energy times and taking time to find accountability through co-writing will.
- Writing Sprints
I define writing springs as concentrated, dedicated time devoted to a single project; usually around two weeks. During that time, you buckle down and put all your planned out writing sessions toward one thing. This is a great way to jump back into writing if you’ve had to take a break.
- Writing Retreats
If you’re feeling behind, looking ahead and putting a block of time on the calendar can be very helpful. If you can’t go to a professional retreat for whatever reason (hello Covid-19), you can consider renting an AirBnB for a few days, or even doing a retreat at your home. Wherever you are, make sure you create boundaries around your time and space, and put all your effort into writing.
- Rewards, Goal-Setting, and Creating Positive Feedback Loops
There are lots of little things you can add to your systems bag of tricks to help you keep your writing on track. In our programs we teach you how to create and implement appropriate rewards, set goals that work for you, and most importantly, how to create a good relationship with your writing through positive feedback loops.
“You don’t have to keep your writing going regardless of what’s going on around you… you don’t have to.”
The Importance of Support
Getting support is essential during times of uncertainty and upheaval. One of the best ways to do this is by finding communities of like-minded academics who share your goals and values.
I am extremely proud of our online Facebook Group community, where we share the common values of changing academic culture to be equitable, ethical, and open to all kinds of people. Wherever you find your people, make sure you have adequate support in place during challenging times.
“What we really want to do is change the culture of academia to be more equitable, and ethical, and open to all kinds of people.”
If you are looking for deep support, guidance and peer community, consider applying for our year long Amplify program. In this program you’ll be part of a cohort of academic womxn who are learning to center their writing while building the careers they want. Apply for Amplify here.
If you just need a little more accountability and some peer connection, consider our monthly Momentum program: coach-led co-writing and dedicated online community. Learn more here.
Connect with me: