Essential Conditions for Writing Success

Pencil_notebook_writing_237689_lWhat, exactly are the essential conditions for writing success you ask?

Here's a hint:  only you can figure them out for yourself.

Let me explain a bit about the type of conditions I'm talking about here.

Last month (I guess it's actually last year now) I took an afternoon workshop from a fabulous woman named Janet Connor.  In it she told the story of how she went from making an appointment to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to making $12,000 in one month. 

Janet figured out the secret to manifestation.  And that secret is this, from Thich Nhat Hanh: "When the conditions are sufficient, there is a manifestation."  Turns out this is also, in slightly different words, of course, wisdom from Jesus and the Buddha and probably a whole host of other wise figures as well.

Once you get the underlying conditions of your life in order, all else will follow. 

Janet's conditions are of a spiritual nature, things like saying her prayers out loud every day.  I think it's a wonderful idea to figure out what your spiritual conditions for a fabulous life might be, but our topic here is writing.  And I believe the concept of uncovering the conditions that will call forth your best writing (and thus, I also believe, your best self) can be enormously beneficial as we start this new year.

Only you know what your conditions will be, but to give you a little boost, I offer up my own as an example:

–Deep journaling every morning.  This is not the same as morning pages, at least to me.  Yes, I do them first thing every day and yes they are free-form and uncrafted.  But my morning pages tend to devolve into to-do lists and minor rants about what's wrong with my life.  My deep journaling is more exploratory, more questioning, more connected to spirit.

–Write at least one hour every day on my own projects.  As a writer and a writing teacher, I do a lot of work around writing.  I read and comment on manuscripts.  I write blog posts and newsletters and guest posts.  I create workshops and classes.  I love doing all these things, but sometimes my own writing gets pushed aside.  And so one of my conditions is to spend at least one hour every day writing, really writing, on my own projects.

–Breathe.  Sometimes I become conscious that my breathe has caught in my throat.  Yeah, not a good thing for a writer, seeing as how the communication chakra is located in the throat.  How can I hope to write freely if I'm not breathing freely?

–Ask for help.  When things aren't going well, I need to remember to ask for help.  I intended this to be about asking for help from God (or spirit, if the word God makes your nervous, or goddess, or universe, or Allah or your higher self) because that always seems to work.  But as I started writing about it, I realized that asking for help can take many forms.  Requesting that a trusted friend read a manuscript, or hiring a coach.  The idea is to be willing to be humble enough to ask.

Those are my conditions.  Now you might be wondering how to go about figuring out yours?  Mine have revealed themselves in two ways:

–Through writing.  No, duh.  For a writer, the best way to discover anything is to write about it. 

–Through meditation and prayer.  Sometimes I think that my most powerful meditation is actually through the act of writing.  But irregardless of that, I still do my best to find time to sit in silence every day.

So, how about you?  Does this idea of conditions appeal to you?  Do you know what your conditions might be?

***By the way, according to my calculations there are 42 days until my novel is released.  I'll post the cover image here as soon as I get it from my editor!

Photo by len-k-a.

22 Responses to Essential Conditions for Writing Success

  1. J.D. 01/03/2013 at 04:21 #

    I must read this again. Just wanted to say I’m looking forward to reading your book.

  2. Zan Marie 01/03/2013 at 07:17 #

    Breathing is good. So is consciously making myself relax the muscles in my jaw and my shoulders. A few good, slow Tai Chi warmup moves help a lot.

    Thanks, Charlotte, for reminding us to get the right start and to write. ; )

  3. Charlotte Dixon 01/03/2013 at 07:39 #

    Thanks, J.D.  I'm looking forward to reading yours.  We should meet in Nashville and do an event together.  That's actually a really good idea. 

  4. Charlotte Dixon 01/03/2013 at 07:40 #

    Ooh, I like the idea of Tai Chi movement.  We writers live in our heads so much that I think we forget how important it is to be in our bodies as well.  Happy new year, Zan Marie!

  5. Heather Jenkins 01/03/2013 at 09:31 #

    If I said I didn’t have a TON of conditions, well, I’d be lying. And I’m trying to limit the lies I tell in 2013 to things like, “Mmm…that was delicious liver and onions. I simply couldn’t eat another bite since it couldn’t possibly live up to the first.”

    Normally (and with writers, there really is no “normal”), I like for everything to be “just so” before I write: Comfy chair, cat nearby, cuppa jo, Amos Lee’s dreamy voice singing faintly in the background, dishes done, laundry folded, bread baking in the oven, Hugh Jackman mowing my lawn… But, if I waited for “just so”, I’d never scribble a word.

    This year, I have one writing condition. That is, just write. Throw out everything – the “DOs and DON’Ts” from the myriad writing resources that often contradict each other and elicit panic and confusion among struggling writers everywhere!, the fears, the self-deprecating behaviors, the excuses, the negative Nellys who DIScourage rather than ENcourage, the bad habits and behaviors that stifle me and keep me static in my writing rather than dynamic, the inflated dreams of a 10-book deal with subsequent movie contract – and JUST WRITE. It’s time for me to be the protagonist I root for in the books and movies I love. It’s time for me to silence the chaos and write. Just. Write.

    Thanks again, Charlotte, for inspiring me to dig deep. :)

  6. Charlotte Dixon 01/03/2013 at 09:58 #

    Heather, I love this.  I tweeted something to the same effect yesterday, along the lines of what it really all comes down to is doing the writing.  I think it was Ray Bradbury who said just write and let everything else take care of itself.  But man, oh man, is that a hard space to get into!  Old Ray didn't have the demands of social media to deal with for one thing.  However, I am determined to do the same thing as you, Heather–just say to hell with it and write as much as possible.

  7. Carole Jane Treggett 01/03/2013 at 10:17 #

    Charlotte, thanks for yet another inspirational post, and for your additional reminders/encouragement from Ray Bradbury.

    Heather, I so very much appreciated your comment here, and you can’t imagine how resonant “it’s time to silence the chaos and just write” is for me. Thanks and let’s write like the wind, no matter what! Happy New Year to all.

  8. Charlotte Dixon 01/03/2013 at 10:33 #

    Yes!  Let's all vow to silence those voices and write like the wind!  It helps so much to encourage each other to do so.  Knowing that others are out there at their computers typing away always inspires me.  Thanks for commenting, Carole Jane.

  9. Heather Jenkins 01/03/2013 at 11:04 #

    Thank YOU, Carole. I believe as writers we are bombarded with the noise of chaos – having to be everything, do everything. When really, it’s quite simple: the only thing we have to be is true and the only thing we have to do is write. I avoid social media because I don’t need more noise. I blog haphazardly and read very few blogs (Charlotte’s is a must for me!). It’s hard for me to stay true to me and to my craft if I can’t hear the voice that calls me to the page. I, too, will “write like the wind” rather than fight against it.

  10. Charlotte Dixon 01/03/2013 at 11:34 #

    I'm honored to be one of your must-read blogs, Heather.  And the conversation between you and Carole Jane just proves what I often say: that often the best part of the blog is in the comments.

  11. Carole Jane Treggett 01/03/2013 at 15:20 #

    Charlotte’s blog is a staple for me too. She is such a blessing to many of us writers, isn’t she? I find it a constant challenge to allow myself to honour my own writing projects and keep them as high priority, but I’m bound and determined to really do so this year. So very glad to connect with you here!

  12. Charlotte Dixon 01/03/2013 at 15:24 #

    Carole Jane, I'm clutching my heart.  Thank you!  And I'm really happy that you and Heather have connected here also.

  13. Heather Jenkins 01/04/2013 at 06:16 #

    I find that Charlotte’s posts aren’t trite or preachy. I appreciate her insight as a writer and teacher. I have found value in what I read here, and not just about writing.

    I, too, am grateful we have this forum to connect and to know I am not alone in my struggles. Here’s to a honoring our writing lives and encouraging each other in the process! :)

  14. Charlotte Dixon 01/04/2013 at 08:08 #

    Ahhh, thanks, Heather!  You made my day!  And yes, a toast to honoring our own writing lives and those of others as well.  Thanks for being a loyal reader and commenter.

  15. Cheryl Barker 01/05/2013 at 06:55 #

    Charlotte, thanks so much for visiting my blog yesterday. Always enjoy meeting other writers online. What a thought-provoking post here. One of my conditions is somewhat quiet surroundings. That’s how I work best. This post also makes me think about just exactly what qualifies as success. That could be a whole new post, huh? :) All the best to you this year!

  16. Charlotte Dixon 01/05/2013 at 08:35 #

    Cheryl, I enjoyed visiting your blog!  I love it when I find new bloggers to visit and get to know.  Thanks for coming by here in return.  Your comment is interesting because I work in silence, too.  I don't seem to be able to think deeply when there's music in the background.  The funny thing is that I have the radio on in the kitchen all day long, so when I take breaks I wander in there and get a blast of sound.  Ahh, the odd habits of writers.   Hope you write that blog post on success because I'd love to read it!

  17. Don 01/07/2013 at 11:20 #

    As usual, all your points are well taken Charlotte, but the hardest one for me, and maybe that’s because I’m a man, but it is asking for help. Asking for help is like saying that you are failing, so that is the hardest one for me to overcome, but I’m working on it.

  18. Charlotte Dixon 01/07/2013 at 11:28 #

    Hey Don,  Good to see your name in the comments.  I love hearing from you.  That's such an interesting take on asking for help.  I'm not sure we women think of it in terms of having failed quite so much.  I know that you have a deep faith and I wonder if asking for help from God feels like failure to you? It's an interesting topic to explore in all its aspects.

  19. Don 01/07/2013 at 14:35 #

    Asking God for help is absolutely essential for me, but still the old macho self-image still likes to rear its ugly head a lot, leading to a lot of self-doubt.

    What can I say, but that … it’s not easy being a bloke you know, having to hand-hold one’s macho self-image and all.

  20. Charlotte Dixon 01/07/2013 at 14:39 #

    LOL!  I get it!  Women have the same issue of saving face, but it takes different guises, I guess…

  21. Barbara 01/09/2013 at 10:13 #

    I think sitting down and writing on your project every day is crucial. It’s also one of the toughest things for me to do. Sigh.

  22. Charlotte Dixon 01/09/2013 at 10:18 #

    Me too.  I don't know why it is so hard, but it is.  However, I'm getting really good results with it this year so far–so I vote that it's worth the effort. 

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