I’ve talked before in this blog about the differences between a a dream and a goal – if you remember, that’s having a plan. Writers need to be pro-active, not just in getting the words down, but in editing, submitting their work, and marketing/promoting.
No publisher is going to come knocking on your door if your book is just an idea in your mind. Work your plan and who knows? Maybe there’ll be that knock on the door.
It’s hard work, being a writer. But writers love it all the same. And sometimes hate it. But just can’t stop doing it.
Writing is like anything else – it doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to actively decide to do it. There’s the common image of the writer at his keyboard, glass of whisky at his elbow, pained expression on his face as he stares at the blank screen. His shirt buttons are undone, his hair stands on end, and there’re dark circles around his eyes…..that’s stuff for old movies.
There’s an old joke about Irish writer James Joyce, who was said to be notoriously slow in his writing.. A friend came to visit and found Joyce slumped over his pen and paper, looking very depressed.
“Whatever’s wrong, James?” The friend asked.
“It’s the work. Isn’t it always the work?” James moaned.
“Well, have you written anything at all today?”
“Seven words.” Joyce groaned as if in pain.
“Why, James, that’s wonderful! Isn’t that more than you usually write?”
Joyce heaves a great sigh. “Yes," he replied. “But I don’t know what order they go in.”
Real writers are very disciplined, they organize their work and plan it out as you would with anything else that you want to do. I don’t actually believe in writers’ block, although I will agree there are times when you simply can’t write. Those times may be when your mind is cluttered with outside problems and worries, or may it’s simply that a story is simmering in your brain and isn’t yet ready to be written.
Writing requires a degree of commitment. If this was a flower arranging class, you’d all be eager to get home, buy flowers, and try your hand at some arranging. Well, writing demands a lot more than flower-arranging, which I agree is pretty creative, too. But the fact remains that you have to knuckle down and do it. Writers write. End of story.
There’s an impetus, a continuity, a mindset, that develops when you have a routine of doing something everyday. Even if it’s half-an hour during your lunch break, or an hour while the kids do their homework….set aside a definite time.
It’s also important to be disciplined about your Internet time. There are so many lovely things to do and see on the Net, and you can even claim they are educational. But nothing takes the place of your own writing time.
Computers also have been a terrific boon to writers. Imagine how quickly Joyce could have played with arrangements for those seven words if he’d had a cut and paste option?
***This blog is taken in part from my book on the basics of writing: Naked Writing: The No Frills Way to Write Your Book. Now on Amazon in print and ebook!