Y'all, I don't usually talk the writing stuff much anymore, but I can't help myself this time. I had company in town this past week, and while I took some time off to do things with her — some shopping, some lunching — I also sat myself down at my desk and did the work. I may be my own boss, but I still have a job to do and jobs don't get done when you lollygag.
So what do you think happens when writers tell me they just can't get the work done? That they have to watch their favorite shows, and do all their Facebooking and Twittering, and yes they have a deadline screaming toward them at light speed, but they're probably going to miss it because, well, it's football season! Or Downton Abbey is on. Or it's spring and they have to plant the bulbs.
If you guessed that I probably turn apoplectic, you'd be right. It's infuriating when someone asks me how I manage to write so much while wringing their hands and hoping I'll give them the secret formula that will suddenly make words pour onto the page.
And I do give them the secret, but they don't listen. The secret is this: DO THE WORK! If you want to make a career of this, if you want to be a published author and have people read your stories, then you have to turn off the television — or whatever distracts you — and do the work FIRST. Do it! Stop talking about it, stop wringing your hands, and stop making excuses.
Your shows can be DVRed. You can watch them once you meet that deadline. I don't know what to tell you about sports, since that's not my hang up, but I'm pretty sure you can't watch every darn game Thursday through Monday. You can't do everything. Make a choice. And if you choose the football, don't whine about the writing. You chose it!
Seriously, the only way you get ahead in this job is to make it a priority. Writing does not come last. Writing does not come after you finish everything else. Writing must be a priority. Yes, your family is the most important thing. I don't disagree with that at all. There's a saying you might have seen before: “Happy wife, happy life.” It's cute, right? But I think it should also be expanded a bit. “Happy family, happy marriage, happy life.” It doesn't rhyme, but it's closer to the truth, I think.
So this is my rant for the day. If you're a writer, if you want to make this a career, you need to make sure you're willing to do what it takes. You can't write when you feel like it. You can't build a career or gain readers if you take such an approach. If you want this — really want this — you have to work for it. It's still a job, and it still requires you to put in the time.
So put down the remote, stash the coupons for the mall, and get your work done first. Your work ethic is vital in this business. If you don't have one, if you're easily distracted, then you aren't going to succeed.
But if you get that work done, you'll be surprised at how everything begins to flow. Make writing a priority, and you might just be amazed at how much you get done. Good luck and get to work! That's what I'll be doing… 😉