If you’ve been following my series on the writer’s biggest challenge, you will know that there is a sequence a writer can go through on the way to being totally liberated as a writer and able to live a life based around writing. This will all be elaborated at length in the forthcoming book Your Biggest Challenge as a Writer - and What To Do About It, which will be available soon from the website. But in brief, I outline seven stages:
The first stage of the seven levels is a kind of blind submergence of any inborn wish to become a writer. In what I suppose would be called ‘denial', a writer strives to bury the desire to write in a lifestyle composed of other activities. Often this results in the writer becoming a negative critic of other writers, as though he or she has to justify the decision to suppress the urge to write.
The second stage is a strata of discomfiture which occurs when one knows that one wishes to be a writer but is still trapped by gravity or inertia into a pattern which prevents acting on that knowledge. The writer’s greatest enemies, ’Lack of time' and ‘procrastination', are symptoms of this.
The third stage is when a writer, using various remedies which I and others have written about elsewhere, carves out some islands of time, enabling some writing to get done, piece by piece, even when normal life circumstances tug the writer back into line again.
The fourth stage is when the writer realises that he or she has to make big changes to a complete lifestyle - and sets about doing so.
In the fifth stage, new things become possible as a lifestyle begins to coalesce around new freedoms to write; and the sixth stage is when this all begins to be fun. Stage seven is the ultimate level, when all stages below have been achieved and surpassed and the writer now has a substantial career as a writer, a career that pays and is self-supporting, leaving plenty of time to write more.
Not every writer needs to make it al the way up this ‘ladder’ in order to be an accomplished author, but it shows an idealised structure and gives writers something to aim for.
A Lifestyle Consultancy is hard to describe in detail because it grows and evolves according to an individual's situation and what they are trying to do. It depends very much where a writer can place himself or herself on the ladder above.
Most people are 'locked in' to a set of circumstances which keeps them working at a particular job in order to keep money coming in so that they can support an infrastructure so as to be able to keep working at a job - a kind of 'hamster wheel' which eats up all their time and attention. This is around stage two above. The trick in each case is to spot the path that will lead them forward to a situation in which they are free, time-wise AND attention-wise, to create - whether that be writing or some other form of creative activity. This might be (and often is) defusing their finances so that their expenses are a lot lower. It can involve moving house, resigning from jobs, rearranging relationships, you name it. The idea is to move them up the ladder that I described in recent blog articles. It can take months or even years to make the transition.
What I try to do is get enough data to understand a person's circumstances and then draw up a programme of actions that will step-by-step get them closer to the final goal. I will not ask for financial details, personal details, or anything which the person feels must remain private, only an outline of the kind of thing they face so that a remedy can be worked out.
Encouragement is often required along the way, and occasionally revisions to the programme are needed. However, because the programme usually lies along the path of best interests for that person, the individual normally gets stronger as he or she moves along - and, in some mysterious way, the universe cooperates, more often than not.
The idea is that the writer moves up the stages described above. The goal of each Lifestyle Consultancy is worked out beforehand and costed accordingly.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me: