Investing in yourself is more than planning for the future; it’s about focusing on the present. So I’m focusing on more than learning to write well as a writer. What am I saying? Whether you are a writer, a business owner, or an educator, investing in yourself will make all the difference.
Doing what you are doing is not enough to keep you motivated. For me, writing all the time is exhausting. I’m always fighting resistance; creative people do. I don’t believe in going broke in pursuing your dream. But I think strengthening your craft and exploring your creativity is worth whatever resources you have to invest. If you don’t invest in your growth, who will? Looking back, there are several investments I made and continue to make that had kept me motivated when I was scared or lacked discipline; I hope they help you too.
Investment #1: Get a Coach
While reading an email in my office about 11 years ago, I came across an email to apply for the Greater Kansas City Writing Project (GKCWP) Summer Institute. Even though the institute was for current teachers and not administrators, they made an exception. I was forever grateful because it changed my life as a writer and a leader, reader, and thinker. It was the best professional development I ever experienced because without the insight and perspective I gained, Ignited Pens would not exist.
Coaching opportunities can take many forms, from small groups to one-on-one sessions with an industry expert. The challenge is to begin.
Here’s how to get started: Be on the lookout for growth opportunities on your job or social media. Social Media is not just for airing out your dirty laundry; it’s for connecting with others. For example, my Ignited Pens writing sessions are now online because of the Pandemic, and I share this opportunity on social media. To add, not too long ago, I facilitated a prayer challenge on social media. On the last day of the challenge, an opportunity came for me to join a unique challenge to gain business, ministry, and life strategies, and it was worth my investment. Also, if you don’t like social media, connect with the person thriving in the area you want to be successful. Last, connect with a small group at your church or talk with your pastor. A pastor is a shepherd over your soul, so they will give you advice about the directions you should go.
Investment #2: Study the Work of Others
When I started Ignited Pens, I knew I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I began with the lives and practices of other writing groups, writers, and entrepreneurs.
The book Writing Alone and Writing Together: A Guide for Writers and Writing Groups by Judy Reeves taught me how to structure the Ignited Pens’ writing sessions. Janet Banks, a local Kansas City poet, spoke about awakening your muse at my first Ignited Pens session. Last but not least, Jeff Goins is the one I study because of his validation of the art of writing and making money as a writer. He also believes that successful people spend time with people who are smarter than them. I do, too, so books have the power to educate and transform our lives. Therefore, I invest in resources like the app Blinkist. It helps me understand powerful ideas and the world around me through insights from the world’s best nonfiction titles. Also, I have a kindle and a Prime membership, so I can get a genre of books at a discount to teach me different things about writing. It’s been the most inspiring in my writing journey. There’s just something powerful about learning to overcome writer’s block by reading on my Kindle the book What Your Clutter is Trying To Tell You by Kerri L. Richardson—or learning about the minimalistic poetry style of Lucille Clifton.
I agreed with Jeff Goins when he stated in one of his articles, “You must invest in the work of others if you expect others to invest in yours.”
Here’s an action step: Make it a personal goal to read at least one book per month. If you’re already doing that, increase the frequency to once a week. And if you’re already doing that, kudos to you!!!
Don’t have enough time to read? Try Audible or Blinkist. You can sign up for a free-trail membership for both.
Of course, you don’t have to spend money reading or listening to books. That’s why we have libraries. But I recommend you commit to a reading schedule and invest your time working through lots of unique books.
Investment #3: Never Stop Learning
I graduated with my BS in English Education in 1995. That didn’t stop me from getting my Master’s and Special in Educational Leadership, nor did it prevent me from attending National Writing and Leadership Conferences and becoming a writing consultant for the National Writing Project. I’m sharing this because I never stopped growing. I didn’t arrive because I graduated with a BS in 1995. Life is an endless learning experience, so I’ll never stop growing. Now, I’m taking a couple of online courses to take Ignited Pens to the next level for my participants to have an excellent online experience. I’m learning that people who invest in their success are more likely to succeed than those who don’t.
Are online courses and conferences expensive? Some are, some aren’t. But think about the information you’ll be receiving. When considering investing in a class or a conference, you want to know how tailored the information is to what you want to learn and how knowledgeable the instructor is. Attending a conference is where connections are made and can continue for years, inspire your writing, and take your creative career to unimaginable places.
I have made lifelong friends at conferences. People who have made me lots of money at conferences have connected with me.
Something powerful happens when people get together and share their lives, whether it online course or at a conference; if you haven’t experienced that yet, I encourage you to keep looking.
Here’s an action step: Find an online course and a conference to take or attend that will help you grow as a writer or a person. An excellent course has:
Relevant information on the topic you want to learn.
Legitimate credentials (i.e., the teacher has actual first-hand experience with the material).
Access to the teacher and other students.
A conference will connect you with broader ideas, insights, and like-minded people.
Ignited Pens is launching its online courses soon. Meanwhile, we have a Facebook page and group to ask questions, share your writing and connect with other writers. I am also leading a Women’s Creative Writing Life Group at my church. If you are in the Kansas City area, you can join us by clicking on this link: https://lifegatekc.churchcenter.com/groups/join/n1NWTmSaGqK9BDLBtDVT4YMC
For me, when I made these investments into my writing commitment and personal growth, I grew so much as a person and a believer in Jesus, simply because I was taking it more seriously. And in making these investments of time and money, I found others who were just like me. Others could help me succeed in ways that I couldn’t on my own. So I encourage you to invest in yourself.
Please share this post and tell me which investment resonated with you and why. Please, like Ignited Pens on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.