Using trendy language and tropes generally isn't a great idea in writing. But I'll use the word "normalizing" in this post because it goes straight to the subject. If you're a writer, if you are trying to cultivate a practice while wondering what the hell you're doing, or whether what you're doing helps/hurts/accomplishes your goals, then one sure thing will support you: a writing cohort.Sorry to use such a $2 word: cohort. It sounds academic when it's just shorthand. I'm not talking about a critique group. Those can be helpful, too, in other ways: to keep your word count up, to keep your stories honest. But a writing cohort is something more loose; it's the people you know who take their writing somewhat seriously, have produced work that actually goes out into the world for other people to consume, and who are actively working on future work to publish. These are the folks who'll normalize your experience by reflecting on their own. They're the people you'll discuss: "Here's where I'm going. How about you?" You need this conversation once in a while to "normalize" your habits/practice and not feel alone. It reminds you why you are doing what you are doing and that you aren't astray.
This blog is subtitled: Notes on a Writing Life. I can't tell you how to live a "writing life." No one really can. It's as individual as your DNA. How many words you write in a day/month/year has nothing to do with your worth as a writer. "Making it" by getting an agent and a book deal may be your goal. That's all fine and good. But there are many iterations of "making it" that have nothing to do with commercial success. Success comes in many forms and by many paths. Understanding the individuality of your experience by checking in with your peers helps you to discern what's best for you.
I have some good writers in my life. Novelists. Poets. Journalists. They are incredibly interesting, dedicated, outlandish, unconventional, wonderful, decent people. I hope they get from me what I get from them. My habits, foibles, successes, and trials aren't unique. My goals are to keep writing and not stop, to write something people can enjoy and possibly learn from. Here's where I'm going. How about you?
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