My Not-So-Secret Writing Life

It’s not a well-kept secret that I’ve been working on a memoir for quite some time. Every once in a while, I’ll come across old New Year’s resolutions on Facebook where more than once I’ve written: “I’m going to finish my book this year!” And then, another year goes by without a completed first draft.

Recently, one of my best friends asked me how the writing was going. I was so touched. She has always supported my work, and it’s been a while since someone asked me that question. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to respond. I think my answer to her wound up being an enthusiastic one like – “It’s going well! Thanks for asking!” – without going into too much detail.

Here’s the truth: I write every single day. I wake up and wonder what I’ll write about that day. I see stories and content all around me and immediately want to put my spin on it. Most of the time, I write for my job as a nonprofit communications professional. I write (and rewrite 😉 ) marketing emails, impact stories, leadership spotlights, website and social media copy, fundraising campaigns, and so much more. I love having a career that allows me to use my skills and talent to write for good causes. And I know my work experience enhances my overall writing journey.

But I’m also trying to spend just as much time here on my laptop writing my book, and that’s not always easy. This means I have to put myself first. I’ve invested time and money to learn more about my craft through professional development classes, writing workshops, and reading countless books and articles. With all the writing, editing, proofreading, and learning I’ve done over the last decade, I’m sure I have a complete manuscript by now. And yet, I have nothing to point to and say, “Ta-da!”

So what’s the problem? The problem is that personal writing projects have always taken a backseat in my daily life. Sometimes it’s because I sit in front of a computer all day and have nothing left after the workday. Other times, writer’s block or imposter syndrome kicks in, and I’m completely helpless. And there have been plenty of times that I write and write and write because I have so much to say and can’t type the words fast enough. Now that I’m an empty-nester, my schedule is much more open, and my mindset is focused on writing this book. But that’s not enough. I need a plan of attack. Here are some changes I’m already putting into place.

  • Making the Time – I’ve already told my husband that I’m carving out at least an hour a day to write, if not more. I’m also getting out of bed earlier than normal to get ready for work, leaving time for me to be creative. I’ve even traded in most of my TV time and doom-scrolling for blogging or reading because reading other people’s work is an important part of my process.
  • Writing with Friends – I’ve committed to two writing challenges and half a dozen in-person workshops this summer. (I told you I meant business 🙂 ). The first is the Ultimate Blog Challenge which requires me to write one blog daily for the entire month of July. I love this not only because of the writing, but we also support others doing the challenge by commenting on their posts as well. It’s a supportive online community of incredibly talented literary citizens. The other challenge is with the Philly Writers Workshop. Every week, I am paired with a classmate to exchange new pieces written in 15-minute blocks of time for positive feedback. This challenge is designed to help us all get into a routine I desperately need. These projects bring me joy and hopefully get me closer to finishing my book.
  • No More Negative Self-Talk – I need to stop telling myself no one wants to read what I write or will care about my stories. It’s a lie I tell myself that causes me to procrastinate even further. So, I’m not going to worry about writing the perfect memoir, whether I’m the right person to write this book, or if I sell a million copies. And no more lying about not being good enough. I am good enough.
  • A Little Detective Work – I need to dig through previous posts, read old workshop prompts, review past submissions, and then organize what I have written and see what remains to be said. I may have a complete manuscript and not even know it. Wouldn’t that be nice? A girl can only dream.

What other things should I be doing that I can include in my plan? I’m all ears – or eyes. Add your thoughts in the comments!


4 comments on My Not-So-Secret Writing Life

  1. Angel Lewis
    July 3, 2023 at 8:48 pm (3 months ago)

    I truly understand where you are coming from. My blog started as a vehicle to introduce myself as a writer for a book by a similar name. I’m working on a couple of different projects and that book will have to wait. If you would like an accountability partner, I’m willing.

    • Elisa
      July 6, 2023 at 6:20 pm (3 months ago)

      Thanks, Angel. If my current accountability partner gives up on me, I’ll reach out. Good luck on the projects!

  2. Kebba Buckley Button
    July 3, 2023 at 8:20 pm (3 months ago)

    Elisa, I am so proud of you for creating ways to support your project of getting your memoir done! Yay! May I offer suggestions? First, decide who it’s for. When you pass, your daughter at least will wonder many things about your life that she didn’t manage to ask about, while you were around. Now, write as if you are sharing with your daughter. I would love to know more about my parents’ childhoods. But it’s way too late. Second, will this be topical or chronological? I have read both types and found it much easier to read the chronological ones. With either type of memoir, now you can sketch out the chapters (topic or group of years) and fill in as you go. Of course, if you have a USP, it could be a theme book, and your personal history would be the background. Okay, I hope this is helpful. You go!

    • Elisa
      July 5, 2023 at 9:03 pm (3 months ago)

      Love these ideas. You’ve given me some things to think about. Thank you!

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