I am gaining respect for Hope Clark, author and editor of the e-newsletter Funds for Writers. I think it’s about time I pick up one of her mysteries at the library. I originally signed up to the newsletter because I wanted to get news of upcoming contests, but over time I have begun to enjoy even more the advice and thoughts of other writers, the news of events happening across the States, and more. I have shared the joy of people’s success stories, and really see the wisdom in Hope’s Editor’s Thoughts at the start of each newsletter.
I am really gaining respect for her. She has a lot to offer to writers, whether they are old and tried or fresh and new and still on shaky legs, and whether they do traditional or self publishing.
Here is what I read from her today:
The majority of writers want to ease into the business. They want success to find them subtly, and want everything to gradually climb up that ladder to greatness. But sometimes, some of the change in your life needs to happen with purpose.
At age 46, I’d reached 25 years with my employer, which gave me an option to retire early, albeit with a huge cut in any sort of pension. Nobody I knew ever took advantage of that opportunity, mainly because they never saw it as an opportunity. They had nothing to go to, so they stayed where they were.
I wanted to write.
So I went home, held a family meeting, and the consensus was for me to go for early retirement and write . . . with hubby taking the next promotion he could find, wherever it appeared in the country. We moved from South Carolina to Phoenix, Arizona. Suddenly I had to write full-time and justify my choice, and the choices my family made along with me.
I’m not saying you need to move across the country to take writing seriously, but you will need a major mind shift. That mind shift will, without a doubt, remove something else from your world. There will be sacrifice. There will be change. It should be so drastic that you feel obligated to commit, to justify your choice.
It might mean giving up most of your social activities or going to work part-time instead of full-time. It might mean keeping the day job but committing your down time to your stories. It might mean swapping domestic responsibilities with someone or hiring a housekeeper.
Or you might commit like Hugh Howey when he first started out: He sold his house to be debt free. His wife worked to pay utilities and groceries. He gave himself two years to make this goal of his work. And he did.
But to stick to your norm, to not relinquish activities that serve as time constraints for your writing, to hope that you’ll be discovered when you write a couple hours a week, is deciding to ease into this business. You keep your fingers crossed and hope that someone finds you, that they’ll read your blog or stumble across your book on Amazon.
You make this business happen. You get yourself published. You promote your work. It’s hard, but damn, to make advances is a phenomenal feeling. This is a profession where you have control, and it’s up to you what you do with it.
I very much agree with Hope’s assertion that, well, if you are a writer, you must write! Don’t let other things get in the way. This is not a hobby, it’s your passion, it’s your job. If it isn’t, you should not be calling yourself a writer. Maybe it is not your main income, but if it is your passion, you will set aside time to do it, and you will sacrifice other things that you could be doing in order to write instead.
If it’s just one of many options of “fun things you could do” – such as movies, eating candy, going to a museum, a picnic, or shopping – then you can’t really call yourself a writer. It’s just a hobby of yours. But if you have fingers that are itching to write and can’t stop stories from spooling out of your head onto paper – then get that pen out of your purse and write! Say no to that dinner party, get your sister to watch the kids for an hour, get takeout instead of cooking – make time to write, and stick to it.
I have friends who are writers but they don’t do anything with it. They just let it sit there. They talk of success and dream of it, but they seem to expect it to waltz onto their table all of a sudden, earning them money, name, fame – or just getting them started.
As Hope reminds us, it does not work that way. Writing is a difficult industry. It is a door that you have to shove your foot into, past other feet scrambling to enter that door – like pushing past a crowd to get that blessed sweet at the holy temples in India. “Just do it!” as the Nike brand says. Make it happen. “Take the bull by the horns.”
Don’t wait until tomorrow – chase after the goal today!
That’s what I think. Discussion welcome! I am open to debate, and I offer my opinion waiting eagerly not for argument, not to create controversy, but to spark an interesting conversation.
Some will think that Clark and I are being too fanatical, and that what we are suggesting will upset the balance of your daily life. Others will say we are promoting balance. Still others will say that they cannot write until inspiration comes.
What do you think?
Over and out!