Treating Writing Like My Day Job

Heart of IndiaIt took me six years to write the first two chapters of my first novel; The Heart of India.  It took six months to write the next 14 chapters.  I often ask myself why it took so long to finish those two chapters and I realized it boiled down to a few things.  The first reason? I wasn’t focused.  Wow.  A writer not focused.  (No shit, Sherlock).  I have found, in my few years as a writer, that writers are the most easily distracted people on the planet.  We can wake up with an entire series in our heads, but damn, anything, can cause us to lose it. Just. Like. That.  And then it is gone.  We blame writer’s block, we blame significant others, the cat, dog, aliens from outer space or whatever, but the truth is, to be a writer takes time and focus.

The second reason it took me so long to write those first few chapters was because I wanted it perfect.  I didn’t exactly write when I sat down to write.  Instead, I found myself editing…and editing…and editing.  I did more editing than I did writing.  While editing is great, trust me, it can also eat into your writing time.  Most self-published authors have other jobs or responsibilities, so finding the time to write is hard in itself.  Wasting most of that time constantly editing a few pages eats away at the little time you had to begin with.

The third reason was that I was treating writing like a hobby.  A seasonal hobby.  One that you did when you remembered to do it.  If you want to be a writer, you cannot write when you feel like it; you have to treat it like a job.  Writing is HARD.  Really freaking hard.  And it pisses me off when I read author interviews and they make it seem like it was nothing to write a book.  Please.  We know how much you put into it.  This is one of the reasons I get pissed off at negative reviews (but…lol…another story for another time).  Writing takes work.  And the mental and physical exhaustion can take its toll on an author.  But so does any job.

If you want to be successful at writing, you have to take it seriously and treat it like a real job.  Does that mean you have to write every single day like clockwork?  Not necessarily, but it does mean you pull out that laptop, or tablet, or good old-fashioned paper and pen, and you write.  You may not produce the best work every single day, hell you don’t even do that on your real job, but you show up every day and you work.  Writing should have the same amount of dedication.  You should put the same amount of work into it.  You were the one who said, “Hey, I want to be a writer!” So, stop bitching about how hard it is to write and simply do it.

Set goals and try to stick to them.  I personally try to write at least five pages each day.  Some days, I write ten, other days, I can barely write three; but I find the time to write.  Save editing for another day.  You can always edit.  But don’t waste valuable writing time by going back and editing thirteen chapters before you can write chapter fourteen.  You have an idea or a name or something else you want to change?  Jot it down somewhere and get to it later.  Your goal today is to write.  But there is no way I can possibly write 5 pages a day!  Okay.  Then write three.  It’s not about the numbers, it’s about the progress.  And you can’t progress unless you write.

Those of you who have already written your first novel know the pleasure that comes with writing “The End.” Those of you who are still in the process, trust me when I say, it is one of the sweetest joys in life.  But you cannot get there unless you get started.

So my challenge to you today is this; get that laptop out, set a writing goal, and write.  Remember, some days you are gonna be so hot, it’s like you’re on fire.  Other days, it will take a fire to get you moving.  But, you have to write.

~ by Adrianna Morgan on December 8, 2013.

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