During writers group last night, we broke down into a discussion of the people who find out you are a writer and then ask you for something. Sometimes they ask you how to get started in writing. Sometimes they ask you to take a look at what they’ve written. Sometimes they want the names of your editor and agent. Louise Plummer admitted to having read a 500-page novel for a member of her family, and further confessed that it was awful.
Several of us from writers group were at an event called Authorpalooza this past Saturday. We had all encountered the novice writer who was asking, “How do you get started doing this?” We each gave a similar answer, but they all had a common theme: Make the Time. It takes time to become a writer, just like it takes time to succeed in any other profession. Making the time means that you dedicate time to improving the craft of writing, to learning the business, to finding out what it takes to be considered a professional. No one wakes up one morning and says, “I think I’ll be a brain surgeon today,” (okay, maybe they do, but they won’t get very far without being referred to as a murderer), and yet loads of people wake up in the morning with an idea in their heads and decide their going to become writers.
I know – I’ve mentioned this before. It’s worth mentioning again.
As we were laughing over some of the less-than-serious writers we’ve encountered, I began to think about the times I’ve not followed my own advice. The past year has been a struggle for me in terms of my writing. Circumstances have required me to change jobs three times in the past 12 months, and I took on many more responsibilities in two of those jobs just so I could ensure my continued employment. All of this took time away from my writing, and it has only been the past few months that I’ve returned to that most authentic part of me with the commitment that it requires and deserves.
Interestingly, there are some side benefits to having rededicated myself to my writing. One of my students stopped me in the hall this morning. He had a big smile on his face as he said, “You are beaming today. I mean, you always radiate this glow, but today, you are just beaming.” He was very genuine in his compliment, and I was truly flattered.
“Thanks,” I said. “I’m quite uplifted today.” I didn’t bother to elaborate, but as an FYI – it was my turn in writers group to have something critiqued. Loads of good comments and ideas for revision on a new idea I’m developing. I came in this morning with a full heart and ideas spinning webs in my brain. If that causes me to glow, all the better.
I’m walking the walk, not just talking the talk. I’m practicing what I preach (can I come up with some more clichés here?).
I’m making the time.
It’s good advice because it works.