In a previous post, we looked at the difference between writers and non-writers.
A writer is anyone who puts pen to paper (or more likely, fingertip to key) and gets down the business of writing.
You don’t have to be published to be considered a writer, you don’t even have to be good.
You just have to do it.
If that’s what separates us from the non-writers, then, the people with a bank of ideas in their heads that never quite make it out, then how do we tackle those days when we just can’t be arsed?
Or those chapters we have no idea how to start?
Or the book we don’t know how to finish?
Well, the key is this.
Writers write even when they don’t want to.
If you want to make a career out of writing (as I do) you need to accept that there will be days when you wake up and your brain goes ‘No. I don’t want to do this. I can’t think of anything good and everything I write today will be rubbish.’
Fair enough, brain.
I mean, we all have days at work where we’re a little bit switched off. It’s a normal part of life, having your own rhythm.
But you can’t give into it.
Because part of what will separate a professional writer from a leisure writer is the fact the professional writer will get up and write even when they can’t be bothered, even when they can’t think of anything good, even when their brain tells them whatever they come out with will be rubbish.
When you’re a published author, you’ll be working to deadlines (yes that’s a when – not an if!) You might be asked to write a sequel, or you might be given a timeframe for the next book in a year, two years. You need to know that you have the stamina and the mental endurance to sit down and achieve something big within a time period.
And that’s why you need to start putting all of this in place now.
Think of it a bit like a marathon.
If you knew you were going to run a marathon next year, you’d start training. You’d get up every morning and go for a run, or you’d start going to the gym. You’d get yourself prepared both physically and mentally.
Writing a novel is exactly the same. It’s a marathon. You need to be prepared to put in the effort every single day, whether it’s an hour, two hours, or even just fifteen minutes.
You need to start teaching yourself to write even when you don’t want to.
Margaret Brande had two great exercises for this, which I use both of. Her advice was:
- Wake up an hour early and write for an hour. Don’t think too much about what you’re writing, just do it.
- Set yourself a time in the day and commit to writing for fifteen minutes to an hour, depending on how much time you have
This teaches you two great lessons: firstly, get your arse out of bed and get to work and secondly, writing is a commitment that you need to stick to.
It’s time to start writing even when you don’t feel like it.