You’ll often read or receive advice that, to be a writer, you have to treat writing like a job. So often you’ll hear wannabe writers saying that they want to write but don’t have the time, or how other things take priority. The sad fact of the matter is that if you don’t ever write, you never will be a writer.
I’m all for leniency – after all, not everybody’s lives are the same and it can be incredibly hard for some people to find a routine for writing. Circumstances may also prevent people from writing, be they other commitments or health issues. It’s not easy and, if you are experiencing this sort of restriction at the moment, you shouldn’t be hard on yourself. Always stay positive and hopeful… Thinking about being creative is the first step, so as long as you keep aware of your ambitions you’ll always have those goals to work towards.
Everyone struggles. Fact. No matter what sort of perfect life writers can project through social media or however much those who taste success preach about how they got on with it, writers all have to start somewhere and they all face difficulties along the way. I, for one, struggle to set aside time for my own writing when I am so often dedicated to helping others with theirs. I absolutely love working on both sides of the coin – I’m a script reader and an editor on one side and a writer myself the other.
This is where treating writing like a job can be really productive. As a freelancer, I make my money through the script reading and editing side of my career. I’ve made very little money from my original writing so far, but that’s OK. I accept that and I am willing to be patient whilst I work my way forwards. However, I often feel that I ought to cast aside my own writing in favour of the work that is giving me my income. I’m sure many of you feel the same in your own way, whether you work freelance or are in employment. We all have bills to pay, and that can’t be ignored.
During the #aprilwordsaday challenge I added my daily writing tasks to my to-do list like I would any script reports or proofreading jobs I needed to complete. Forcing myself to spend the time, whether it was writing a mere 6 words or a full short story, I found myself feeling exhilarated afterwards and inspired, too. If I could bash out some great little pieces of fiction purely based upon a word prompt, what more could I do with a little more time spent experimenting? But the main thing was that I’d added it to my schedule, and I did it.
This month I’m taking part in both #maywordsaday and #photoadaymay, so I am concentrating my #maywordsaday efforts on writing loglines. I have been quite surprised with some of the ideas I have come up with, and it has helped me to consider ways of making loglines punchier or more interesting. I have found myself rewriting the same logline several times which can be a really good exercise. Sometimes changing the tense, subject or altering the tone can really make a difference.
Having got into the habit of doing “words a day”, I now feel more at ease with dedicating some time to my own creativity every day. It’s hard not to feel guilty sometimes, when you know you should be doing paid work, or house work, or any other number of activities which may seem to be more of a priority. You have to remind yourself that you have dreams and aspirations, too, and that you deserve to spend time indulging in writing.
So, instead of feeling bad or guilty or putting it off because you simply don’t have time, add a writing task to your to-do list and treat it as seriously as you would any other important task. You might only write 6 words, 6 sentences, a logline… Or you might embark on a longer piece. Even if you just brainstorm an idea, or write a short response to a #maywordsaday prompt, you’ll be writing and taking those small steps towards success. However if you really can’t write one day, for whatever reason, forgive yourself. Don’t feel as though you’ve let yourself down or you’re not getting anywhere. You’re allowed glitches, and the mere fact that you care means that you are, and you will, get somewhere.
If you’d like to have some company when you write, there’s a great hashtag, #amwriting, on twitter where you can tell other writers what you’re working on. Participants often motivate each other and work at the same time during “writing sprints”. I used one of these sprints to start working on a short story for a local anthology and it helped give a sense of momentum and a little deadline to work towards.
And, of course, there’s the #maywordsaday hashtag where you’ll be able to read daily creative responses (including mine!) to the prompts. Participants include @TooLateToBlink, @ShaunaRulz, @teenierussel, @PeterPaega and @jadedmuse. Maybe see you there!