The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. **Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Alienate more friends!

"I've always wanted to be a writer. I know I have a wonderful idea for a novel."

"Can I read it?"

"Oh, I haven't written anything, I just know I could. Maybe someday when I have more time."

"More time?"

"Yes, you know. When my children are grown and I don't have so much to do at church. Maybe when we have more money or my husband retires - yes, I think then I'll write a book."

Does that sound familiar? Haven't we all been tempted to put the computer away and concentrate more on our family and our friends. Why be in such a hurry to be a success? Why should I sit here day after day and work - alone? Especially when everyone is fussing at me because I'm missing out on this special day or that family function.

The fact is that any career means a choice must be made. If you decided to get a simple job at the local Chick-fil-A, choices would have to be made. There would be times when you would have to say...."Sorry, I have to work. I would love to be there but I can't get off."

Unfortunately for the lonely writer and his keyboard - many people don't feel like we have a "real" job. Most of our friends and families believe that fairies fly into our offices at night and correct that 80,000 word manuscript. And if it needs revisions, surely the editors will take care of all that. (Which is like saying the CEO of Wallmart will clean the toilets if the janitor needs a day off.)

I recently sent a "rant" off to a dear friend and writer about someone who just didn't get the fact that I had a real job. He was kidding of course, but I had to laugh at his response.

You ask how I handle extended family and friend's intrusions. I think what it boils down to is that all the people who can't or won't understand my situation as a writer are now so completely alienated that they NEVER call anymore. You just need to alienate more family members and friends and you'll have it made!

He was being funny of course - but what can you do to help others understand your work?

1. You can't convince them you have a real job if you don't feel it yourself. Make sure you have answered this question in your own mind. Do I want to be a full time writer? If the answer is yes then you will have to put in the hours to make it happen.

Just because you may not get a paycheck every week doesn't mean that you aren't investing in your business. Every time you spend the day writing, researching or are building your business just the same as if you put $$$ toward it.

2. Part of your contemplation should be understanding what you want from this new career. If you are in this for the money - Don't quit your day job! Most writers are some of the lowest paid people on the planet. But....if you want to be a writer because you feel "called" to the task and if you can't imagine a life without writing - it will be easier to accept the pitfalls that come along with the job.

3. Do you feel compelled to write? When you are in the mall and you see some event that sparks the creative juices, do you pull out a pen and scratch a few notes on the back of a bag? It may never become an article. You may always have that torn piece of bag stuffed in your drawer, but you knew you had to write it down. That's the first sign of being a "real" author. You have to write. You can't live without it.

4. Gather your immediate family and get them on board with your "calling". Explain what it means to you. Let them in on your goals and dreams. Ask them to help you reject the jabs of others. By doing this not only will you have help explaining to Aunt Martha why you can't attend her luncheon by the fish pond....but you will also have a team of people encouraging you and pushing you forward.

5. No one will ever believe this is a real job unless you do the work and submit it. You must think of this as a "job". Work toward that goal. Each of us has to work at the tempo that fits our own personal circumstances. Some of you can only work pieces here and there. Others may be able to put in part time work. And still others may be able to jump full time into the job. But none of us will be taken seriously until we send those manuscripts out. It's not being accepted that's important. It's being out there. It's being able to say...."I did it!"

Again, I urge anyone that wants to be a writer to get Jim Denney's book, "Quit your day job!" It is one of the most complete writer's guides to getting the job done that I've ever read. You can use the link in the sidebar to purchase this book. It's helped me through many agonizing questions.

So, don't be discouraged when friends criticize the fact that you aren't there. Smile and know that by alienating your friends you are one step closer to your goals.

God loves you and has called you to write,


1 comment:

Laura McKenzie said...

Kudo's - great post. From one of your friends who is cheering from the sidelines.