Writing is the long game. It’s not the kind of career that’s made in a sudden flash of brilliance. It sometimes looks like that–we see someone who appears on the scene, seemingly out of nowhere, and the years of hard work and practice are lost in the blinding light of their ‘meteoric’ rise.
The reality is–there’s years of work that goes into a writing career. Years of reading, years of thinking, years of writing. And all of this takes time. We fit it in during spare moments when the family is occupies with their own pursuits, in random half-hours between classes, during lunch breaks and stolen ‘sick’ days. We give up movies, and restrict our TV watching to only the most interesting of shows. We write our million words instead.
A lot of writers take jobs that aren’t intellectually draining. We live on reduced incomes, scrape and save and budget and say no to ourselves, so that we have the time and the emotional energy to give to our characters; characters that we love, but have no guarantee anyone else will. As they say in show jumping, we ‘throw our hearts over the fence’, following our dreams with hope and determination.
I’ve been saving all winter, as hard as I could. I wanted the summer to spend on writing. It’s something of a catharsis for me, but also, I think, a necessary step on the road to–whatever this becomes. Hopefully a career, because I can’t think of anything more fun and less like work than this. The money I’ve saved, and all the things I gave up–the movies I didn’t see, the clothes I didn’t buy, the dinners out that I didn’t eat–will let me do this. At least until fall.
Not everyone can do it the way I have–I’m incredibly fortunate, and I know it. My plans for the summer are ambitious, in response. I hope I can follow through. The thought of five whole months with the freedom to focus on this and this alone…well, it’s amazing. And scary. I hope I don’t screw it up.
Even if you can’t afford to do it the way I am, I hope you can find some way to give yourself this gift, in smaller chunks. An evening a week with no interruptions and no other responsibilities. Saturday morning. Sunday evening. Every lunch hour. Whatever works, and gives you the time to fulfill the promise of your dreams and your ability. Make your plan and stick to it.
And please, if you see me wandering from my plan, grab me by the scruff and drag me back on track, okay? 🙂