Sometimes writing is not about the literal act of writing but changing how you think and feel about writing.
Being a writer and/or author has always been my wistful career. I viewed everything else as a stepping stone – a means to generate income for expenses - with the ultimate outcome being me able to focus my time and energy on writing. At some point, it became a contingency plan: something I fell back on when everything else I considered fell through. When I met frustrating dead ends along the way, I would think, “Maybe this is my chance to focus on writing.” When I had trouble sticking with it, I would sigh and think, Maybe when I have more time, I can write. Maybe when I have more money, I can quit my job and write.
Only recently have I understood my subconscious attitude toward writing. I’ve been writing stories since I was a little girl and most people know that writing is one of my hobbies and interests. I’ve written a lot in this blog about my struggles with editing and my procrastination, but I’ve been missing something all along that’s taken me years to realize: writing has always been a hobby to me. I have never taken it seriously as a job.
Sure, I want to be an author, so I write and plot and slave, but I have always taken to writing as though it is a hobby and not my full-time job. Yes, I have thought, I want to write so that I can live off this and have it be my job, but I have not been taking the same responsibility with writing that I might toward my job. At work, I try my best and I work hard. I get tedious things done, I help people out, I make sure that I do the best job I can because if I don’t, my conscience and responsible side kick in and I feel some hellish guilt and worry. Currently, when I sit down at my computer to write and get bored, I wheedle out of it, going on to things I feel like doing instead, as though it is an interest.
I have never felt the same responsibility toward writing that I have toward my full-time job and I think this is one of the key reasons why I’ve had such difficulty with writing in general. Only recently have I realized that I want to work hard at writing and feel guilt at putting it off. I’m finally beginning to see it more as a career than just something I like and want to do. If I don’t put in the hours, slog through the things that might be tedious, and get the job done, I’m not giving it my all.
It’s been difficult finding motivation too. When you dislike some parts of your job, you can think, At least I’m getting paid. When it’s tough and frustrating and you want to quit, it’s hard to draw on the things you do enjoy about your work, so it’s kind of easier to find base motivation from the tangible rewards… all the monies! Of course, I’m an amateur who is working on her first book, so I am clearly not getting paid for this. At times, I’ve thought, “The faster I write, the sooner I can live off this.” but that has only led me to frustration and annoyance at the act of writing. Instead, I think, “I can’t focus on writing! I can’t live off this or make money from this.” It becomes easier to give up and look into other fields and career possibilities, even if writing is something I keep coming back to. It is easier to give up, because at its root, it has always been a hobby, not a job.
Today, I think I’ve finally made a huge step… quite possibly the biggest step I’ve ever made in writing and my career. I’ve consolidated a lot of my thoughts about writing, living off my writing, my life, and my career. I’ve changed my attitude toward writing. Obviously I can’t generate an income from it right now, so it can’t be my job. I need to stop treating it like a hobby, though, and start working harder at it and taking the same responsibility I would if it were my full-time job. In other words, this is my co-op. This is my training period for my career in my field of interest. It is an unpaid co-op without a lot of perks, but I have to work as hard as if I am being paid to do this. If I don’t, how am I to convince myself or anyone else that this should be my career? Why would anyone take a chance on me if I am not trying my best and working my hardest, as if this is already my career?
It is one thing to say you want to be a writer and it’s another thing to actually be a writer. I think this is a step in the right direction! These feelings have been brewing for awhile; in February, I got mad enough to get a bit more serious about writing. In the last few months, I have been feeling some all-consuming guilt when I know I should be writing, just like I would if I were shirking my duties at work. It has brought me a bit of focus to suffer through some intense boredom, when I would have just turned to another interest in the past.
I still have a really long way to go. I’m maybe 2/3 through my first draft and I know it needs a ton of work already when it’s completed. It’s over 70000 words, though, which is the longest thing I’ve written and actually stuck with. I’ve had a lot of success lately with breaking up my writing attempts. I’ll write some, then get a snack. Write a little, do some exercise. When I’m really bored and frustrated, I think, “You would have at least SOME frustration with your perfect career. This is the tedious part of the job. There will be other parts you love.” Somehow… it has actually helped.
I think attitude is important and I’ve finally changed a little bit. Hell, it got me writing in my blog again, right? ;P I hope everyone’s doing alright and I’m going to work harder for everyone – including myself. ♥