Okay, so we know that only a small percentage of writers actually make their living writing. Statistics are tough to come by, as the last decade has thrown the publishing world into a chaotic spin (I won’t say tailspin, as much of this has been good!). But before this hurricane hit, about 3% of published authors made their living writing.
That percentage is higher now, but the rest did (and do) other gainful employment to put bread and wine on the table.
Which leaves just about every scribe alive having to manage writing vs. real life.
And finding time for writing never gets easier.
I mean, given your druthers, it’s what you would be doing all day, right? If it weren’t for that danged day job.
So what’s a potential bestselling author to do?
People who don’t write have this image of us as living in a world of creative bliss, chasing our incredible characters, running after a Moby-Dick whale of a plot. And while that does happen, for true, quite often we’re instead struggling with where said storyline is going, and why aren’t these people coming to life?
And oddly, therein lies the crux.
It’s easy to carve out the time to write when you’re inspired, no? You wake up in the night, or jump out of the shower dripping wet to scribble something down. Or dictate into a microphone when driving.
But then that arid stretch arrives. The quicksand-filled bog. And somehow, well, finding the time to sit and work on that novel seems not quite so doable . . .
Because, as you know if you’ve spent much time in these trenches, at many, many junctures this endeavor is just that—work.
And those with the true drive, the fire in their bellies, realize that one way exists for how to become an author.
You have to do it.
And lord knows, I know as well as anybody how managing that time can be a struggle.
We all have busy lives, no? Kids, school, work, etc., etc. Sometimes it seems like the entire world conspires to sabotage that book or short story or article that you know is just bursting to come through, if only you had the time to . . .
But what real writers know is that all of that scheduling angst is just the smoke screen that covers whatever complex is keeping them from doing it. Be it fear, or not enough self-worth to believe you can, or that dreaded: “Am I a writer?” Or any litany of neuroses that keep us from the writing chair, enough reasons exist not to write to keep us in excuses for a lifetime.
Because what these folks know for true is that writing is a muscle. And it grows stronger by being flexed.
When taking up a fitness program, you make a plan for going to the gym, or jogging x days a week, or running y miles in preparation for the 5K, or whatever it is you’re pursing.
And you know, of course, that unless you’re out their pounding that pavement or lifting those weights, you’re not going to get better. The goal will not be reached. You can’t actual complete a marathon by training for it once a week.
Much less, when you feel like it.
No, you know that you must devise a plan, make a schedule. And, most importantly, stick with it.
Writing is the exact same way.
And it doesn’t matter what your schedule is. Some write every single day. The goal being a word count, or number of pages, or x hours. Some folks leave the work week for gainful employment, and then write like lunatics all weekend. Or a hundred varieties in between.
How you write, schedule wise, is what works best for you.
It’s the commitment that’s key.
As E. B. White said, echoing Tchaikovsky, “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”
You—yes, even you!—can take your life, look at your commitments, devise a plan that works best for how you write, and then, stick to it.
So, yep, I know it’s a challenge. But as with any trial, it’s also one that can be managed, scheduled, and won.
How do you find time to write?