f you’re going to be a professional anything, you have to make that anything a priority.
If you’re still in the workforce, that priority is set for you if you want to continue to draw a paycheck.
If you’re a cop, you have to put on the uniform once a day and go clean up human dregs. If you’re a mechanic or a construction guy, you have to show up at a particular time and fix things or build things. Nature of the beast. If you want to draw your pay, you have to do the work.
Same with the arts. You can call yourself anything you want, but you can’t actually “be” a fine artist if you don’t draw or paint pictures. You can’t “be” a musician if you don’t actively play an instrument. I know. Duh, right?
It’s also the same with writing. Words don’t just appear on the page. If you’re an actual writer, you have to put them there.
The best way I’ve seen to do that is to set a goal, then work toward it. And by “work toward it,” I mean bring your fanny and the seat of your chair (recliner, couch, booth at Starbucks, whatever) into close contact on a regular basis. That should be the only “work” involved.
As most of you know, I have a dedicated writing space (the Hovel) and a dedicated writing laptop (my ‘puter, Hal). I show up every morning about twenty minutes after I wake up, and I put words on the page.
I advocate having a dedicated writing ‘puter because doing so will key your subconscious. It will tell the subconscious that when you sit down at that ‘puter and put your fingers on the keys, it’s time to play with your characters and have fun. It’s time to find out what they’ll get into next and how they handle it.
To me, there’s nothing better in the world than that. Nothing.
(And obtaining a dedicated writing ‘puter isn’t that difficult. I recently bought an excellent second writing ‘puter with a solid state hard drive (SSD) for just over a hundred bucks on eBay.)
In my life, other things sometimes take priority (visits from family or friends on the good side, chores or emergencies or other “bad” things on the bad side). But really, writing is my number one priority.
How do I know? Because even when I’m doing those other things (good or bad) writing is in the back of my mind. Not WHAT I’m writing — not the WIP or any particular story — but the act of writing itself.
Of course, you don’t have to give the act of writing — the act of creation — the same priority I do. In fact, I don’t recommend it.
For me, writing is all-consuming. It’s what keeps me coming here every morning to chat with you, and it’s what causes me to return to my WIP even when I feel as if the words have left me and I might never write another word of fiction.
But if you have other interests — that is, if there are other people or situations that make you completely forget your writing for awhile — that’s fine. Again, I even recommend it. If I could bring myself to that mental place, I’d go camping or fishing or practice my photography a lot more often.
But no matter where Writing sits on your list of priorities,
if you want to be a writer, it has to be included somewhere.
And if writing is on your list of priorities at all, it has to be on your list regularly.
It has to be on your list at a certain time and place over and over again. Even the frequency with which it appears on your list isn’t as important as the fact that it appears regularly.
If you can make time to write (read “escape life”) only on Sunday from 1-2 p.m., so be it. But make sure your butt is in the chair during that time, your fingers poised over the keyboard.
If you can write only five days per week from 5-6 a.m. (or 5-6 p.m.) because you reserve your weekends for family time, that’s fine too. Wonderful, in fact. Just make sure you’re there during that hour, and that you’re writing.
If you’re a “weekend novelist” (there are books on the topic), that works too. Whatever you want to do, however you want to do it, is fine.
But nothing will work without the regular bonding of the seat of your body with the seat of your chair.
Without that regular, scheduled bonding, instead of watching your word count or title count or book sales (or however you mark success as a writer) grow, you’ll look back and mark the passing of time with a wistful “What if…?”
And that is a particular kind of hell nobody needs.
By the way, on Thursday, June 27th, Draft2Digital (D2D) will host their first-ever FREE “Ask Us Anything” with marketing masterminds Kevin Tumlinson, Mark Lefebvre, and Dan Wood. They will answer your questions live and on-air. If you’d like to join in for this FREE learning session, Click Here.
‘Til next time, happy writing!
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