If you had a second piece of advice for aspiring writers, what would it be?

Writer’s write… but they don’t write ALL THE TIME. 

Lawyers can go days, even years, without setting foot in a court room. Parents can go years without seeing the children they pray for nightly. A gardener must wait out the winter, subsisting on catalogs and web surfing. 

An aspiring writer can feel great pressure to produce, to a quota, on a schedule, no matter what. Some people comforted by a highly structured approach to writing, but for most of us, there’s a danger that we’ll be tyrannized by somebody else’s definition of success.

So many writers I know are also raising children, tending a significant relationship, holding down a day job, keeping an eye on the elders, hitting the gym, keeping the house in order, and even nurturing a social life. On top of that they pressure themselves to make progress with writing goals AND get enough sleep. 

Any writer who can wedge 250 words a day into a schedule like that is a superhero (and is producing a book every year with a few weeks off).

To me, the bedrock upon which a writing career must be built is not a word count goal, or measurable goals prominently displayed in a well ordered writing space. Of course, if you want to be published, creating a product at some point is important. To me, though, to create a product worth reading, the writer must have a passionately experienced life, an emotionally vibrant reality, from which fictional worlds can spring. All that parenting, partnering, and professional-ing is the golden grist for the writer’s imaginative mill.

So my second piece of advice would be, don’t let an obsession with writing productivity leach the joy from your writing soul. Whether you get out a book this year or not, whether you write one day a week or five, whether you have six outlines under the bed, or one monster rough draft…. writer is something you ARE, it’s an identity, not simply a job.