Words like work ethic and organization seem to deter a lot of writers. I always say I’m not a writer, I never run out of ideas and have no trouble finding the time to reach the deadlines I create for myself. This is exceptionally rare in this profession and not necessarily any more productive. Yesterday I worked on four different story ideas and scrapped them all! It was painful and draining, especially being that the ideas felt right but just didn’t work in writing.
The biggest hurdle I struggle with is that I am a great storyteller, give me a starlight sky around a campfire and I will capture your imagination in the blink of an eye. But taking up pen and paper is a whole other tale to tell. Words convey so much feeling and expression when you’re voice is accentuating each character, each action. Writing is harder because it is up to the reader to perceive the life you are trying to convey in your work.
My husband is the true writer in the family. He constantly has writer’s block, gets distracted easily, and needs to have a perfect setting before he can create. His process is longer and harder. He dawdles when it comes time to submit. Last week I had to ask him “what are you waiting for?” when he sat on a story ready to go out.
It’s helpful to have two such different approaches under the same roof. Makes life exciting. But it also helps us to examine each other and ourselves in order to work harder. Sometimes having a writing buddy can give you that extra little push you need.
If that’s not an option, a writer has to rely on themselves. We all have the power to create great works. If only each individual can do whatever they need to drive themselves. That means you’ve got to set aside time each day or at least each week to work on your craft. You can’t allow time to become your enemy. Schedule it like a work shift. Pretend that you are two different people, your employer and your grunt worker. Crack the proverbial whip over yourself and keep at it.
I falter here and there in my own schedule. We all have lives and most of us have day jobs. My husband is a workaholic and often struggles with his need to write and his lack of energy after a hard day. The creativity is often sucked out of me by the demands of our home life and our crazy energetic children. This is where having a good support system comes in. We kick each other in gear when we need to. Everyone has a friend, family member, or coworker who has the power to help out. And it’s important to acknowledge that “it takes a village” doesn’t mean everyone does everything for you, but that they help you to want to achieve what you can to contribute.
Everyday I feel like I haven’t done enough. Haven’t written enough, gotten enough published, done enough for my kids, my husband, our home. Raising the bar is a good idea, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m also not against disappointment, it’s a part of life and I’ve embraced that by having higher expectations I will often not reach them. In return I have already achieved more than I would have had I not set such high standards for myself. Of course I’ve got a long way to go, but that’s the fun of it.
Challenge yourself, keep working. Nobody is perfectly organized but we can’t let that get in our way. Computers are the best filing system and clocks are just devices that tell us what time it is. The important thing is that we work, and keep at it. I can’t stand the “overnight success” myths. Sure there are a couple of writers out there who self published their first novel on amazon and make millions but the odds are against us and I’m not betting on anything but my abilities. Writing is not a “get rich quick scheme” it is an art form that helps link people through the written word. The more credits that are attached to my name, the more success I have gained. It takes time and hard work to truly establish a writing career. I’m not even half way there, but climbing is the best part of the journey.