Building a Sustainable Practice

Let’s Learn Something

Many of you out there are writers or creators of some sort. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t have created a site and dared to dream that you could reach people through your passions.

Me too. I have been working as a full-time creator (writer & editor) for a little over a year now. A lot of you reading this are in the same boat as me or swimming to reach that boat.

I want to help you get on the boat and stay on the boat.

In this article, I’m going to go over what it took for me to get where I am and how I am able to stay here without worry that I may at some point not be able to create, to learn, to grow.

Throughout the years before I became a real full-time creator, I worked like one. Even while taking classes, working multiple jobs at once, and working over full-time jobs. I did that because I knew it was the only way to prepare me for this life I’m leading now.

If you want to do that too, keep reading.

TL;DR–this links you to a page where you can sign up for my craft newsletter and download a copy of the infograph that breaks all this information down.

The Idea

I read a lot of writing craft books, business books, design, entrepreneurial books — really anything that is going to help me level up my writing and editing game in any way. In most of these books, I never see them mention much about conscious choice in the whole scheme of being a creator.

A lot of them talk about how you must commit, submit, and lean into your work, but none really tell you how to do that.

Years back, I was struggling at being a writer. I had all the want in the world to be a writer who slang words and weaved stories, but I didn’t do anything about it because I thought it just sort of happened.

Until my friend gave me some dating and love advice, then everything clicked.

The idea: you have to choose this life everyday.

My friend told me that falling in love was easy, but that staying in love everyday throughout your life, took time, patience, and devotion.

You have to choose to love someone. You can’t just live your life and expect that the love will stay there and be as magical as a love that you are consciously choosing to be involved in.

It’s the same with creative work. You have to choose it over and over again. There is no other way.

Ask yourself:

How can I choose at least one thing today, right now, that will feed my creativity?

Do that everyday, building off of the one thing until your days are filled with things that feed your creativity and increase your output.

The Commitment

After making the decision to actually be a writer, I didn’t just instantly be able to start selling pieces and getting a readership. It was evident to me that I needed to go through a bit of a training.

What I learned in college and high school about creative writing gave me shaky ground to stand on when it came to writing professionally for publications. This is not a shot at writers or teachers in academia.

It is just a fact that a majority of writing programs in academia do not equip you with the skills to SELL your writing.

So, I could write, but I couldn’t write anything that could actually sell.

Well, that’s sort of a lie. I was able to get a publisher to full-request a manuscript of mine. Unfortunately, I had deleted all copies before hearing back from them because I thought the book wasn’t worthwhile and no one wanted.

Free Pro Tip: Don’t self-reject.

That little story is besides the point of this section, which is all about setting up a schedule.

I know you’re saying to yourself, but Aigner (pronounced like Kanye without the K or onyay) how does making a schedule help me sell or create a sustainable practice.

If you are asking yourself that, you may be in worse shape than you think.

Schedules are how you figure out where you are putting your time and if you are giving what you need to give to the right things.

Most people fail at setting up a consistent and sustainable creative schedule because they think that it needs to be rigid or set into stone.

Really, a schedule needs to work for you, not the other way around.

You need to find out where in your life you can crave or create the time that is need to put effort toward your projects in a way that keeps you functioning in all areas of your life, not just one.

In other words, if you’re an insomniac, instead of staying up late to stare at the ceiling or rewatch that same show, work on what gives you that fire that keeps you coming back to your life with renewed passion and insight.

Ask yourself:

Are there moments that I find myself idling away with nothing to occupy certain parts of myself?

For instance, I love cooking and baking, but it is time consuming. While baking or cooking a dish, I listen to audiobooks that focus on craft or business or current events to keep my brain active and engaged.

Once you find your times that work for you, stick to them only until you need to change them. Also, keep track of your progress and test different schedules.

You might learn through trial and error that although you are an early riser, creating at the crack of dawn doesn’t deliver your best or fastest work.

The Learning

Like I’ve mentioned before, I read A LOT of books that are aimed at helping me get better at what I do. This is something that I did when I first made the decision to be a writer and it is something that I will always do.

It takes learning something to become good at it. Learning it to the point that you can teach others, whether or not that is what you want to do it.

Learn your craft or chosen profession as though you were a heart surgeon. Keep up on the latest trends and history.

Treat learning your craft like the best training montage in the world.

For me, I always image the cheer montage from Bring It On thatthe cheerleaders did when they were trying to come up with a new and original cheer. They learned so many different forms of dance so that they could make something totally their own and new.

No, they didn’t win, but they created something wholly themselves and like nothing seen before.

Learn everything you can and feed it into the machine that is your creativity. See what comes out. It may not be the next big thing, but it will lead you to your next big thing.

Ask yourself:

What subjects outside of my field could I learn that would eventually help me better understand my craft or creative process?

For example, I read a lot about nature because it helps me with scene description in my creative writing.

The Feedback

If you’re the same type of creator as me, you create to share, to have someone else look upon your work.

Jeff Goins has said that you shouldn’t create a product until you know whether or not someone is going to buy it.

I am of a similar mindset. Except I have a slight remix to Jeff’s advice.

Get people’s feedback so that you know what work you need to do for people to eventually buy you.

Because at the end of the day as a creator, that is what you should be aiming for. So what if someone buys one of your pieces or products. You want them to buy more on a regular and consistent basis.

You want them to return to you time and time again because they trust that you know what you are doing.

To get to the point where you are working in harmony with your client base or community, make connections within that community and build some trusted relationships with people who are willing to be honest with you about your work.

People who are willing to tell you whether or not what you are investing yourself in is going to be worthwhile or connect with anyone besides you.

Ask yourself:

Who can I turn to that would give me honest and smart feedback about my endeavors into my chosen field?

The Execution

With everything that you have learned above, you may think it is time to start implementing and going forward without a thought of looking back.

You are sadly mistaken.

The best creators always examine and grow and they never stick with one practice — they experiment.

So, I want you to experiment with these practices and ideas. See if working without a schedule helps you reach your goals. Maybe you are a free form artist who is better without all the constraints.

Execute your practices consistently and with thought to what you are aiming for in the future.

Ask yourself:

Where am I now and where do I want to be?

Take a look at that future version of yourself that you want to bring into the light and begin making action steps toward that version that you can implement and experiment with until you reach your peaks of success.

The Give

In honor of you and in order to help the creator community that we are all in, I created an infograph that will explain how I went about building my sustainable writing practice and how you can build one as well for whatever it is that you are working on.

If you’d like to download it and begin working on building your sustainable practice and business, all you have to do is make the choice to begin learning.

Besides creating that extremely helpful infograph, I’ve been working on setting up an editorial calendar for this page so that people have an idea of what to expect in the way of scheduled posts aimed to help them grown and get insight into the writing and freelancing life. If you’re not already following me, now would be a good time to do so — I have over 20 posts for you to read through until the new ones go up.

What to Look Forward To on My Page

In December, I’ll be going more in-depth into my freelance writing and editing business. Each post will be packed full of tips to help you get your mind around how to make freelancing work for you.

Posting schedule for December:

  • December 4th: Setting Up a Writing Business (goes live later today)
  • December 11th: Setting Up an Editing Business
  • December 18th: How to Find Gigs as a Freelancer
  • December 25th: How to Pitch Pieces

To get a head start on these topics by building a sustainable practice, join my newsletter subscribers and grab your free copy of Building a Sustainable Practice.

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