Double down on your writing

Not long ago, my friend Jennie asked me to consider what my perfect day would look like. At first, it was easy to scoff at this question, because each of us does so much to support the needs of others, and ourselves. It feels almost decadent to consider a day that isn’t defined by how you can support your family, pay your mortgage, and care for those around you.

But I spent time asking myself the question she challenged me with. After a few days, I had my answer, and I was surprised at two realizations:

  1. I’m already living very close to my ideal day. A day filled with family, writing, and being in the trenches with other writers and creators.
  2. The only reason I’m not fully there is that I have been half-baking some things.

The result of the exercise was that I got radically clear on what I wanted to spend my time doing, and I doubled down on it.

I’ve probably taken 1,000 actions in the past couple months to do this, including hiring a new person to help me for this exact purpose.

I want to ask you two questions:

  1. What does your ideal day look like?
  2. What if you doubled down on your writing? What would that look like? How would it make you feel? What would the result be? What would the first step in that process look like?

(okay, that was six questions!)

This week on my podcast I shared the story of Robert Fieseler. When I first met Bobby, I he was working at a large ad agency. Awhile later, he told me he started going to journalism school in the evenings. That was a little surprising since I knew he already worked long hours. But then he did something totally shocking: he quit his job. The reason why? So he could devote himself full-time to writing a book proposal.

Bobby risked it all to become an author — he doubled down in ways that surprised those around him.

You can hear his entire journey here, and (spoiler alert), there is a happy ending.

Doubling down on your writing is actually a binary process that is full of two things:

  1. Yes
  2. No

This is where you say yes with vigor to the things that lead you to living your ideal day, one that I assume includes writing. And where you say no (with kindness) to other opportunities and obligations that take you away from your ideal day.

Sometimes these decisions are small: removing the Facebook app from your phone so that you spend small moments in your day thinking about your characters instead of scrolling social media. Or learning to dictate your stories instead of write them so that you can “write” while you walk your dog. Turning off your internet. Last week the power to my studio was cut so they could do some electrical work. I joked that without internet, this is what my laptop felt like: a machine entirely focused on writing, not distraction:

Other times, the actions are large: a career change, turning down volunteer work, or renting out a private writing space outside the home. I know writers who have done each of those things in the past month alone.

For myself, I have been saying “no” a lot recently. I cancelled a local storytelling festival that I help organize. I’ve turned down people who want to collaborate, and some strategic ideas that my team has brought to me that were really exciting. Each of these “no’s” where difficult to make. What I told the people, and what I tell myself, is that what this represents is me saying “yes” with vigor to a handful of things that matter most to me.

The transformation has been astounding.

I’ve been surprised at how much more time I have to create. How much more energy and clarity. My resources are no longer spread paper thin across 1,000 well-meaning, but distracting, tasks. And it’s allowed me to double down on things I love, such as my Mastermind group. For this next session, I’m sending each person who registers a special package in the mail. Here I am with the first batch going to the post office:

Last week I talked about the steps in the making a creative shift, but I want to make the point that I go through my own creative shift with this group.

The results are just amazing. This is what Teri Case said of her time in the Mastermind:

“Since taking several of Dan Blank’s Masterminds, I have published my debut novel, won awards, sent my second novel to my editor, hosted a scholarship, and made over sixty close creative friends. I am now a career novelist. It boggles my mind to say so because I talked about being an author for decades. Decades! Now I can walk my talk. I wish every creative person would do a Mastermind and make their someday this day.”

If you want to embark on a creative shift of your own, and would like to do it with me and a small group of other writers, please check out my Creative Shift Mastermind which begins October 1st.