The truth about writing is it doesn’t get done unless you sit down and do it.
The only way to be a writer is to write words on the page, right? Yes, but sometimes life gets in the way, despite our best intentions, and beating ourselves up about it doesn’t help.
This is a ‘if I can do it so can you’ kind of post and I’m writing it in the hope that you be kind to yourself on the days, weeks and years you don’t write – and there’ll be plenty of those if you’re in it for the long haul.
1. You are a writer…
I’ve taken the title of this blog post from a book called I’d Rather Be Writing by Marcia Gallop. It’s a book I’ve had in my collection for years. I’ve lost its cover and it’s slightly bent from too many dunks in the bubble bath but it’s a book I go to on a regular basis.
Another of my go-to books is Page by Page. I own piles of writing magazines, in particular Writers Digest and Writing Magazine. I’ve been subscribing to these for years but I’ve started to read them again. I have four volumes of the Paris Review of Books and Ramona Koval’s Speaking Volumes.
Confession, my bookshelves are crammed with writing books but it’s been a long time since I’ve pulled them off the shelves and lost myself in their secrets.
Lesson: surround yourself with friends on your writing shelves. They’ll always be there when you need them.
2. Make time to write…
And just like that, I’m writing again. I wrote the draft of a new novel in a week. It’s one novel of a trilogy that I’ve been sitting on for over 18 months and it took me a week of focused attention to draft it using Dragon Dictation. And I’m editing.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written, edited and revised, and been able to skite about it. I’ve even set up a calendar and I get to colour in a square on the days I write. Maybe I should add chocolate.
I’ve been a writer forever but it wasn’t until I started drafting a memoir this week to go with my novel, The Miner’s Wife, that I realised I’ve never stopped writing. It’s just that some of my writing didn’t need to be published.
And now I have a WIP – a book I’ve been waiting years to write. I’ve called it Free to Roam: My Life as a Mining Wife, and it’s a book readers of The Miner’s Wife have been asking me to write. But the time wasn’t right, until now.
You see, my life as a mining wife didn’t end well and writing a memoir about it could have been ugly. By waiting, I’m writing the story I want to write – a love story about a landscape and a lifestyle few of us get to experience, and not the emotional dump it would have been if I’d written it sooner. There’s enough distance between me and my story to do the story justice.
Lesson: a story will tell you when it’s ready to be told. Trust your gut. It’s rarely wrong.
3. Write through the hard times…
I’ve always been writing. I have a podcast called Writer on the Road, and I’ve had that put out an episode a week for two years. The reason I’m a writer on the road is that my marriage ended and I found myself destitute and living in a caravan.
And I kept writing. I have so many projects that I’ve written out but I’ve never published. And there’s a reason for that. They’re not ready.
Do you have projects that you’ve been working on for a long time and you feel like they’re never going to end? It’s okay to answer ‘yes’.
4. Keep learning your craft…
There’s a culture that’s developed around writing fast in recent years. A lot of people are making living out of Indie publishing and I base my podcast at Writer on the Road, in part, on their stories. I truly believe this is the way forward for those of us who want control of our creative endeavours. You can download the podcast here.
Mark Dawson, on his Self-Publishing Podcast said recently that there is no difference between indie publishing and traditional publishing. We’re all publishers and it’s up to us to be professional at our jobs.
The trick, I think, to surviving as a writer in the 21st century, is keeping up with the technology. But that doesn’t mean we need to give up on our old treasures. As I write this I’m holding my old hardcover copy of I’d Rather Be Writing.
I love my writing books but it’s been a few years since I’ve dragged them out.
Lesson: I’m a lifelong learner. And you need to be a lifelong learner, too. Learning the business of writing is all part and parcel of what it is to be a writer today. We need to know how to upload our books. We need to know how to market them. But we also need to write the best books we can.
5. Share what you have…
This blog post is about making sure that you find the time not only to write but to publish your work. That time just may not be right now.
Where you’re at, or where I’m at, it is no different to lots of other people who are struggling with the same questions on the same issues.
People who have published many novels and are making a living from their writing have many of the same questions that we do because things change so quickly in the land of publishing.
Lesson: Join a writing community. Make friends. Ask question. Share your knowledge and your experiences because you never know who might need to hear what you have to say.
6. Never give up…
I went through a season where it wasn’t my turn. I worked hard and long to claw my way back to a place where I can write again. And I never gave up during the hard times.
Don’t get me wrong, putting out my next book will be scary.
Lesson: Putting your work out is always scary.
7. Your turn will come…
As a mother my children come first. But I’m also a writer. And, finally, I’m writing.
I’m also excited to share with you that I’m reading this wonderful book called I’d Rather Be Writing that I’ve had on my bookshelf for so many years because it reminded me that there are lots of reasons we’re not writing at any particular times in our lives but our writing is always there, waiting for us.
8. Romance versus reality…
It’s a wonderful dream to line up all our pens and papers on our desk, and write. But all the books and courses out there won’t help us if the time isn’t right. And that’s okay. The trick is to recognise the moment the non-writing phase has passed, and to get back to being the writer you know you are.
Feel free to share your story with the rest of us as we battle life’s interferences with our yearning to write.
9. A gift from me to you…
You can download your free copy of The Voices in Your Head here. It’s a 10-step program that takes you through the writing process from idea to finish project and beyond.