I don’t like the idea of referring to people as “wannabe” or “aspiring” writers. More especially, I don’t like it when writers fall into any of the self-defeating traps that seem so common among our profession (hobby/compulsion). Writing books is so difficult, it takes many years and hundreds of thousands of words on paper before you can call yourself competent. That’s without the chorus of people telling us we’ll never succeed, that nobody makes money writing books, that writing isn’t a real career. Pah! To quote Scary Perry Dawsey: “You’ve got to have discipline!”
My point is, I can’t sit on my butt playing Skyrim all weekend, then tell myself I’m an “aspiring writer” because I thought about how much I’d like to write a book. No, I make sure that I work on my book as often as I can. It might not be every day (although that is my goal), but I make steady progress because I do not allow myself to make these four excuses (and I’ll even throw in some strategies for overcoming them):
1. Writer’s Block
Uh-uh. No Way. This is one excuse I positively do not allow myself. Writer’s block has become the scapegoat for many authors who don’t finish what they start. My solution: keeping a notebook full of all my story ideas, and some good, old-fashioned discipline. If I’m not feeling inspired to write, I sit in front of my keyboard and make myself write at least a page. I also stop writing in the middle of a sentence so that I can jump right in and hit the ground running the next day.
2. My characters don’t wanna do that
I’m the author, I’m in charge. The characters are my puppets and they dance to my tune. John McHero doesn’t want to scale the thousand foot cliff so that he can slay the dragon with nothing more than a spoon? Too bad. Start climbing. I will not let my characters derail the story I have in my head. To avoid this, I do my character creation work at the very beginning of my planning phase. I make sure that I develop a character who will fit the role I want him to so that I can stay on point.
3. I don’t have the time to write
We all lead busy lives. Kids, jobs, groceries, traffic, pets, Breaking Bad. There are a lot of demands on our time. That’s the way life goes. If you are not prepared to put in the time it takes to learn this craft, you will never be a successful writer. Make time. Send the husband to the shops with the kids, put a padlock on the door and write. If you can write 1000 words a day you’ll have a novel in less than three months. It’s not that hard. I try to write during lunch breaks at work, when I take them. I also write at night once my kids are in bed. Occasionally my husband takes the boys out for a whole day and I can do some serious writing (love you baby!).
4. I’m an Aspiring Writer
Yeah, you knew this one was coming. I am a writer. I write stories, blogs and the user documentation for a software company. Words are what I do, yo. It took me a while to get over the “aspiring” writer hump because it’s a powerful way to hold yourself back. Fear of failure? No problem! You’re only a wannabe anyway. Screw that. I’ve sold stories. I’ve got a book with my name on it and someone else put it there. I’m a writer.
Now, I’m going to publish this little rant and then I’m going to go work on my novel!