Thursday, May 7, 2009

What Keeps You from Living the Writing Dream?

Question: If I could wave a wand and transform your writing life into everything that you’d ever want it to be, what would that life look like? What would you need more of, or less of, to get you from where you are now as a writer and where you would like to be?

For me, the issue had always been lack of time. I never felt as though I had enough time in my day to write. When I was younger, I often worked two jobs to make ends meet. Who had time to write then? As my income began to rise, I was eventually able to drop the second job, but often came home exhausted anyway, or facing a list of non-writing chores to tackle, or deciding to spend the remaining time with family and friends. I just never seemed to have enough time to pursue my writing on a regular basis.

I also felt I lacked the right tools to be a successful writer. Maybe once I saved up for a better typewriter (remember those?), or a car so I could conduct in person interviews, or a tape recorder with one of those tape recorder suction cup doohickeys so I could do telephone interviews—then I could get more writing done. (That same line of thinking carried me off and on from the 1970s well into the 1990s, when I got my first PC and, later, internet access).

Then I decided that, if I could become financially successful, I could ditch the day job and have all the time in the world to write. Yes, that was it—what I actually needed first was more money, so I could buy more time to write (as well as the latest essential writing gadgets, of course, including a cell phone and Palm pilot). So I looked for ways to move up the ladder at work, and started side businesses in order to make more money. But these pursuits only tired me out, and brought me nowhere near the income I would need in order to make the leap into full-time freelancing. I could now afford the gadgets, but still never seemed to be able to put in a reliable amount of writing time.

Now that I do write on a pretty consistent basis, and have been for a number of year, I realize that I could have been a writer all along. While having a decent PC and access to the Web have opened up writing avenues for me, and having unlimited wealth would be awesome, I never needed more time, more money or more equipment to be a writer. All I really needed was more discipline, and the steadfast ability to commit even a handful of minutes per day to honing my craft, looking for markets and submitting my best work. That’s what I eventually began to do, once I stopped making excuses. And that’s when I began to get published.

Now then, let’s go back to that question I posed at the beginning of this post. I’m waving the wand—what are you asking for now?

More discipline, I hope. That’s the key difference between most aspiring writers and actual writers.

Here’s to your writing success.