Regardless of your chosen discipline, writing is an arduous exposition of focus, discipline, flexibility, ingenuity creativity, and masochism. It’s work. A lot of work. And it’s a lot of different kinds of work. There are fun bits sprinkled in, like that great scene that pulled the story together, or developing a dynamic conversation with a truly interesting character, but those are but the lamps offering beacons of illumination along an inevitable dark and winding path. The amount of effort it takes to put out quality work is overwhelming at the best of times.
If you’re attempting to write while:
- single parent
- married with kids
- married without kids
- working on your secondary education
- working a full time job
- or any combination of the above
Good luck! It can be done, I’m not saying it can’t. What I am saying is that if you’re serious about writing, it will take up so much of your time that if you’re not careful it could infringe on the relationships necessary to functional life. Those who are lucky will find themselves with other hardworking creative types.
Those who are hardworking will surround themselves with lucky creative types.
If you’re not careful with your time and attention to other aspects of your life, if you get caught up in drama, you could get to feeling a little…
Okay enough with the melodramatics right. It’s not all doom and gloom. I’m sure you’re more than aware of the downsides of writing. If not…
…just forget that I said anything just now and carry on.
The best use of your time is when it’s spent efficiently. To be efficient you must know yourself, your habits, what works for you, and what works against you. It takes being really honest with yourself and stopping the bullshit. [Stop patting yourself on the back for the good job you just did. Stop making excuses why you can’t find the time to write. Stop looking at that blank page and wondering why you’re not good enough. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop listening to the praise. Stop listening to the gossip. Stop listening to the doubt.]
There’s an ocean worth of good advice, and a universe worth of bad. The only good advice is what works for you, and the only way to find out what works for you is to sit down and do the work.
Here’s some advice that works for me.
(in no particular order)
Stop it. Writing and editing are two different steps, keep them that way.
Writing every day:
Do more of it. Like every day. If you can only get 100 words out on the page, take it. Even if it’s only 15 minutes of time scratched into a note book. Do it.
Plan if you can:
Experiment. You’ll only find out after your fifth, tenth, or eightieth story what methods of writing works best for you.
Join a local writing group:
Today if possible. (Attendance is mandatory)
Talk to the people in your life:
As both an accountability thing and it make your circles understand how much work goes into this.
Remember, you’re not alone:
Be good to those who help you, and those who don’t. You never know what the future holds.
Be optimistic but no ones fool:
If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Admit you know nothing:
Because owning ignorance will help you grow.
There will always be someone better than you.
Read trashy novels from time to time:
They’ll keep you in line.
Read well written stories most of the time:
You are what you read.
Keep in mind while you’re flipping through your many hats that part of writing is reading. I just found some great advice about analyzing reading. I plan to implement this as soon as time allows:
Page 2 of Revision & Editing, Techniques for transforming your first draft into a finished novel, by James Scott Bell puts it bluntly:
“You’re a writer, not someone who wants to write some books. You are a person of the craft, a dues-paying member of the club. So pay your dues…”
He lays out a plan for reading to help you develop your analytic skills:
Get a half dozen books in the genre in which you intend to write and make some mental notes on what worked for you. Then go back to the first one and note each scene on index cards and describe the setting, what the scene is about and why you would read on.
There are two qualities that all who wish to enter into the craft of writing should own in equal parts: having patience and being tenacious.
Hope some of this advice helps.
Until next time!