publish.me: The Ghosts of Writing: Past, Present, and Future

Now that the holidays are in full swing, it seems that many of us find this a time for inner reflection. While there are treats to make (and to eat), along with a list of things to do, it’s a good idea for writers to take the time to reflect on their writing too.

One of my favorite holiday movies (and stage play) is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. As Scrooge moves between the past, present, and future, he learns more about himself than ever desired. It leaves him a changed man, in the best of ways.

As a writer, it’s a natural tendency to reflect on the world around you, as readers depend on your wordsmithing to share these perspectives. What are some things we can learn from the ghosts of past, present, and future?

GHOST OF WRITING PAST

This was referred to as “shadows of the things that have been” in the Scrooge’s life.

The early years of writing should always be a learning experience. The reality of being a writer is that there will be some stories that are not meant for public eyes. Maybe these are diary entries, rough drafts, unfinished stories, and/or the early drafts of a book. All of these works are important, as their creation is a writing exercise for your future work. But in reality, this is usually not your best writing; this is simply a chance to stretch your writing muscles so you become a better storyteller.

Did you write a bad story? Awesome! Give yourself a high-five, and move onto the next one. There may be a nugget in that story that can be used later on, so save it and keep on writing.

GHOST OF WRITING PRESENT

There’s no better time to tackle a project than the present, as I have personally learned. Obviously Scrooge was not giving the attention and care to the people around him in his story line; this is a gentle nudge to give your stories—as well as the people who encourage your writing—the love they deserve.

It’s one thing to “be” a writer, it’s another thing to actually write—to physically sit down and implement the lessons you’ve learned in your writing past. I can’t emphasize this enough: set some goals. Set small and large goals, and create deadlines for reaching those writing and writerly goals. By doing this, you’ll be ready to the next phase of your career.

GHOST OF YET-TO-COME

This has been described as the most intimidating part of Scrooge’s story, as he is forced to look back at the consequences of his actions—or dare I say the lack of them.

I often say that I’m doing my best work when I’m proactive vs. reactive to the agency I work for, Red Sofa. A little planning can go a long way, and it feels so good when I see that planning pay off. As a writer, you can avoid any feelings of regret by being more intentional and planning your time wisely. Taking the time to learn from any missteps on your writing path is very beneficial.

There will still be missteps along the way, but it’s always much easier to look back at them if you approach your writing, your writing life, in a proactive manner.

I hope everyone has a great holidays! Here’s to many books in your holiday stockings!