Are We There Yet?
So…you want(ed) to be a writer, right? Lots of people do, and some of those people actually start something, but never finish. I wish it was all like a TV character that spends most of his time running around and solving crimes with the police, and occasionally sits with his feet up, tapping away at his laptop…and still cranks out novel after novel. Really seems like the life! (Hint: that’s fiction folks!)
I’m not even talking about the business of writing / editing / publishing / etc., etc… That’s a whole ‘nuther subject (or huge group of subjects).
I’m just talking about the actual process of writing. So why do so some people think and talk about writing, fewer people actually start writing, and way, way fewer people actually finish their project? Some lose interest and quit, and some just keep working on their “novel” – sometimes for decades.
Almost everyone who actually starts does so with a bang. A quick flash in the pan, and then things start to slow down. Don’t get me wrong – the intent is there, but things start popping up, and some things are done for the right reasons, but in the wrong sequence or in the wrong time.
I’m a perfect example (all writers are at first). When I first started, I was motivated, excited, and full of my book. I couldn’t wait to get to my computer every day and just pound it out!
Of course, I had to stop to eat every now and then. And I have to take out the dog…you can’t ignore the dog! And I had to plan in time to work out – sitting at the computer all day doesn’t keep up a toned, mighty physique. And don’t forget that you need to spend some time with family in the evenings, on weekends, etc. And then there’s household and yard chores. The lawn doesn’t cut itself. Etcetera, etcetera.
Some things just have to be plugged into the schedule!
Those things, and many more, are just part of life. Don’t forget, a lot of writers also have a full time job as well! Doesn’t leave much time for writing.
But believe it or not, those are not the things I’m talking about that pull you away from writing. Sure, they take up time, and leave you tired and unmotivated sometimes, but if you really want to be a writer, you have to accept them and power through those life issues.
The real writer killer is distractions! It starts slowly at first. You just want to check a couple of emails before you get started. How is your latest blog doing on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., etc.? Don’t forget the phone calls from friends and well-wishers, etc. These are insidious, and will suck up all your writing time if you don’t ruthlessly control them.
Some distractions seem to be critical to you really understanding the process of writing. I went through a ton of books telling me how to avoid distractions, and focus on the work. You’ve seen some of my reviews…and these are really good books for someone trying to get started writing – like The War of Art, Turning Pro, and Do the Work (Steven Pressfield). There are lots of them out there.
I would re-read the chapters I’d already written, “just to make sure I was staying with the flow of the story”. (More likely, because I liked my own writing, and marveled at my own prose.)
I spent time reading other books, and writing reviews (to get my name out there), attending writer’s clubs and groups, building profiles on sites like Goodreads, Rallypoint, LinkedIn, Facebook, and many others.
I started public speaking, giving interviews to magazines, on television. Heck, one of my FB posts even got over 17,000 views and almost 60 shares. I was really getting out there – building a following (future readers…).
All great, and all very necessary…in their own time. But here’s the question.
How many of these things caused the book to be written? Among all the chores, catching up, checking stats, growing the following, and all those other things – HOW MUCH WRITING WAS BEING DONE? What was I doing to actually get the book written?
Do you know what you want to write about? Do you know the subject? Then stop all that other stuff and as my good buddy Jimmie said when he told me the deep, dark secret to writing, “just go sit down and write”.
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