Thursday, July 12, 2012

Considering the Writing Life?

So many people think that writing is a mysterious, romantic profession. Okay, maybe they're right, sometimes. Mostly, it's hard work! This shouldn't discourage anyone from becoming a writer because anything that you want to do well takes effort. For the next few blogs, I am posting different aspect of the Writing Life to give you a picture of what it really means to be a freelance writer. My first blog reflects on The Patient Life.

There are many lessons derived from the Writing Life. Patience, a skill that I have practiced  at length yet not perfected, falls into the "derived" category. Whether I am patiently waiting to hear about a writing gig, anticipating an idea to come and relieve my writer's block or just waiting on a payment to arrive in the mail, the writing life is not for the impatient.

Experience has made me a fast typist. If writing success was based on typing ability, I'd be a guzillionaire! Okay, maybe not a guzillionaire, but pretty close. As writing is about creating thoughts that will hopefully have meaning to someone somewhere, my typing is an asset, but not quite enough. Acquiring those thoughts, organizing them into an order that makes sense and appeals to others requires much patience, at least for me. Maybe words just roll off your fingers well organized, deeply meaningful and full of potential, but I often find that patience is essential if I plan to produce any type of valuable content.

If you're considering the writing life, also consider how you'll respond when the gigs don't fall into your lap, the words won't come and your computer crashes in the middle of a tight deadline. While there are many wonderful aspects of being a writer, learning to live the patient life is vital.

If you're a writer, in what ways have you had to become patient?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Need a writing idea?

Whenever people find out I am writer by profession, inevitably the conversation leads to an idea they have for publication. It is humorous to me how many people think that having an article or book idea is equivalent to actually doing the writing. Understandably, non-writers don't realize that the true work behind writing is getting the words on the paper in a way that is relevant and palatable. I am betting most people on the planet believe they have a great idea for a novel, but how many of them will ever take the time to sit down and write an outline or a chapter of that novel?

Moving from thought to action divides mankind between dreamers and doers. While doers are often also dreamers, the reverse isn't necessarily true. Outstanding writers may make writing look easy, but I don't know a writer who really views their job as "easy." I teach writing and I often talk to my students, many of whom have solid ideas, but may not have what it takes to develop to word pictures that allow readers to truly envision those ideas. I am always excited when I discover a young writer who can express on paper  what's in his or her head. 

Writing requires thinking and imagining, but that's only first step of the process that results in a completed work.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Who needs a schedule?

If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood.  I'd type a little faster.  ~Isaac Asimov

The writing life leads me down so many different paths. I recently took about six months off to try working at a "regular joe." I went to work in the morning and came home each evening. Working 4-5 days a week, 8-10 hours per day, I found that my life became routine and not at all what I desired. I am not a creature of habit, I soon discovered. Although I really enjoyed the client interaction and felt good about the work I was doing, the regularity stifled me. I know many people find comfort in routine but I really don't. I think that's probably common with creative people and it can cause a number of issues. Gratefully, I am married to a man who is as flexible as I am and understands my need to schedule my time on my terms. 

If it was a matter of necessity, I could do a regular job again. My work ethic is my work ethic. But using my time the way that I most enjoy...writing what I choose, when I choose means so much to me. I am extremely thankful to once again be in the position to utilize my creativity and develop a schedule that feeds that creativity.

I've read about many authors who feel that it's not possible to produce enough if they don't have a formal office, write a certain number of hours a day and operate on a defined schedule. Are you a writer who needs structure and schedules or would you rather write on your couch, in a coffee shop or on the beach? Where do you write best?