The Writing Work Ethic
It's a funny thing when I tell people that I am a writer. Most people's eyes light up and they tell me that they always wanted to write a novel or a play or something, but that they have no talent at it. That's a shame, because I think anyone can have talent in that area if they just work at it, but it does help clear the field a bit for me and I guess that's good.
I run into people who want to be writers a lot. They ask me a lot of questions. One of the ones I get asked is how I do it. I have a full-time job and I work 40 (occasionally 40+) hours a week at it. It goes from 7:30 until 5 every day. When do you find the time to write?
Well, the day job involves writing, too, so when I get home at the end of the day, my brain is usually pretty wiped out. Back in my younger days, I would come home from the PR job I had and sit with my laptop in the living room and write while watching TV. These days, I have no energy for that.
So, when? I get up early every day and start my day off by writing. Sometimes it's editing, but mostly it's writing. It can be a novel, an article, a short story or a blog article, but it's writing and it's my own.
I try every day to crank out 1,000 words. I have mentioned that before, but it's worth mentioning again. I call it priming the pump for the business-related writing I will be doing all day long, which includes blog articles and social media posts and website content.
I have writer friends and they are all over the place with how they write. Many spend years working on one thing. I have one friend whose manuscripts number in the thousands of pages and it takes him many years to finalize a novel and publish it. Some crank out a novel a month. Some agonize over everything and constantly tinker with a story once it's done. I have a few who seem to pull down their already-published works every couple of years and rewrite them.
I have learned to be a fan of editing, but I am never going to love it. These stories kick around in my brain for a long time and when they come out, I want them to move out of the house and get their own lives as quickly as possible. Papa will stop by from time to time, but they have to make it on their own. I am not a tinkerer.
However, I think the key is that you have to write. You have to carve out the time to write. You have to practice the craft. You work weekends, nights, mornings, lunch hours and holidays. I don't really ever get a day off (although I grant myself one every so often).
So, instead of telling the writer you meet you wish you had the time, I say make it. Get up and write. You don't have to write 1,000 words. Maybe 300 is enough for you. Heck, sometimes, when I am tired or battling a cold, if I get 100 words done, I consider that a victory.
Just do it. Nike made a slogan out of it, but it works for writers too. Just sit down and write. Use a keyboard or a notebook or a note pad, or napkins or whatever. Put fingers to keys or pen to paper, is what I'm saying.
Soon, you'll have a story and that's a beautiful thing.
That's a little advice from Uncle Bryan.