This Is the Better Way to Dress Up: Imagining the Writer You Want to Be

Daydreaming a rosy-hued future writing life? Cool. Me too. Here's why that's *not* embarrassing (and how it will help you focus!). | lucyflint.com

So HERE'S an embarrassing question. It's Monday, and hopefully you have some coffee or some such thing, and hopefully you won't reach through your screen and wallop me for being so nosy. 

Besides, I'll even answer it first. 

Embarrassing question: When you daydream about your future as a writer, what does that look like? 

Not the humble, Twitter-acceptable version of "oh, I'm going to just keep growing and learning and eventually publish." (Even though that's all great.) 

I mean, what does it really look like?

In my daydreamed future, I'm usually living in an airy little bungalow--a ridiculously charming and cozy place, crowded with books (in the places where it isn't being airy, I guess). 

The bungalow was purchased with money made from selling books. (Probably a very small bungalow in that case. But nevertheless.)

I'm busy as a bee in my office, churning out one book after the next, creating books for a series that has mega fans.

MEGA. As in, readers dressing up as my characters, or naming children after them, or having themed weddings based on the books. 

(Ahem. Daydreams are allowed to be silly and totally unreasonable. It's their job.)

Daydreamed-Lucy is always full of ideas, always scribbling, and then maybe jaunting about getting coffee and meeting friends at a bookstore, and...

Yeah.

Happy, cheery, energetic writer, who writes, writes, writes, in the midst of a happy, cheery life.

Especially: Making an actual living with my writing. (Also consuming enormous amounts of baked goods and caffeine.)

That's what I dream up. 

And I usually dream it up when I'm not doing a lot of writing. 

I take refuge in this little daydream whenever life gets crowded and my writing habit slips. Or when I'm sick for a while and have a hard time working (I'm looking at you, epic sinus infection of September!!).

So, your turn: What do you daydream about, when you imagine your writerly future? 

(Nothing is too silly, too far-fetched, or too grandiose. I promise.)

What do you imagine? 

Got an idea? The general gist of your dreamed-up future?

Okay. Good. Here's what I want us to do:

In honor of the week of Everyone Dressing Up, aka, Halloween, let's think of what it would be like if that writing life became yours this week.

If you and I could put on our dreamed writing lives, if we could become that kind of writer by Saturday night, as easily as my neighborhood kids become ghosts, princesses, and the Avengers ... If we could do that, what would it look like?

I promise that this really is a practical question. I promise I'm not just being silly.

Because behind my dreams of the snug cheery bungalow and the brioche and the ever-intensifying caffeine addiction, there's something extremely concrete and real. Something that illuminates a goal that I can, shockingly enough, forget I have sometimes.

I want to make a living from writing and selling incredibly good books. Books that readers just LOVE.

Sometimes, I forget that.

Sometimes, I must think I'm aiming to be a binge watcher for Netflix, or a cookbook tester and reviewer, or professional Pinner of knitted goods. 

Because honestly, sometimes that's what my behavior looks like. That's what I get more enthusiastic about some days. 

And THAT, my friends, is why these slightly-embarassing, future-writer daydreams are so dang helpful! They aren't as foolish and time-wasting as I sometimes think. They don't have to be dismissed outright. 

They actually show us what it is that we'd really like to aim for. They point us where we need to go.

Time for an empowering quote? Sure. Here's one from Henry David Thoreau:

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost;
that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.

HIGH FIVE, Thoreau. I am so with you. 

What does it look like, to put the foundations under your daydream?

For a little more illumination, here's some extremely practical insight from Heather Sellers. (Yes, yes, I quote her all the time, but she has saved my writerly skin so often, I can't help it!)

In Chapter After Chaptershe tells about her writing friend Rachel, who was writing her first novel in spite of an intense day job.

Sellers writes: "She wanted to become a full-time, well-paid writer, so she hired herself (without pay) and did what full-time, well-paid writers do: Write. A lot."

Makes sense, right? Pretty straightforward. Even simple.

But something clicked in me when I first read that. It was exactly what I needed to hear, to start putting the foundations under my castles in the air. 

What kinds of habits could you adopt now, to become that writer of your daydreams? 

Another way to say all this (and something that Austin Kleon writes about): Fake it 'til you make it.

Not the bad kind of faking. This is the good stuff. As Kleon puts it: "You have to dress for the job you want, not the job you have, and you have to start doing the work you want to be doing."

YES. Right? Let's do that.

Let's practice being the kind of writer we most desperately want to be. The writer of our dreams. Let's practice being that.

And you know what happens? We get to become that.

So what are you dreaming about? And what will you be practicing this week?

Let's treat our daydreams--even the silliest ones!--with the seriousness that they really do deserve. Let's honor them by practicing those behaviors.

By dressing for the job we want to have.

For me, this means:

  • Digging deep into revisions, building a solid story, fixing the structure, going crazy-awesome on the characters. If I want a trilogy that will inspire mass devotion, it needs to be the best dang thing I can muster! Editing without flinching. Game on.
     
  • Learning from the pros. I've been reading excellent books from Steven Pressfield (this and this), Rachel Aaron (this might change EVERYTHING for you!), and the amazing Joanna Penn
     
  • READING MORE FICTION! Ack! It keeps falling through the cracks, so I am scheduling it. An hour a day. (The schedule is legit. This is going to happen.)
     
  • Staying nice. It's all too easy for me to get wild-eyed and rabid when it comes to productivity and not screwing up. But that daydreamed version of me is happy as she is writing. Not glowering at everyone and hating everything. So I gotta remember to be a kind boss.
     
  • Drinking coffee. (DONE.)

How about you, lionheart? What's your list? How can you be a little more like that Future Writer You this week? 

Put on those habits. Just dress right on up in them. Act like that writer you want to be this week. 

(It's a waaaaay cooler costume than Iron Man. And it looks excellent on you. Just sayin'.)