I’m feeling discouraged right now as a fiction writer because I’ve become one of those writers who isn’t writing. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I’ve had a ream of excuses, most of them related to my day job as a WRITER. Yes, I put thousands of words on the page each week. They’re just not my words … someone pays me to write what they want me to write. In the meantime, my creative energy is being expunged on a daily basis, and at the end of a long day of writing non-fiction, I have nothing left for my own projects.
At some point, the excuses have to stop.
Here I am, a writer (a good writer, thank you very much — can we say “affirmation?”) with one completed novel, two solid WIPs and several more solid story ideas. But I’m not writing. I’m not revising. I’m not actively, furiously trying to sell what I’ve already written. And this has been going on for more than two years. It makes me so sad to type that sentence.
I’m not saying I haven’t written or revised in more than two years. I’m not even saying I haven’t sent a query or two or five. Just that I haven’t done any of it consistently, and certainly not with the focus and courage and drive it takes to complete books and get them published.
So now I feel like it’s decision time. Do I cut back on my paid work? Chain myself to my desk every night when my mind and body are screaming, “NO! NO! NO! No more computer screen….” I’ve tried sticking to a schedule, getting out of the house, writing during the workday, going away to write. It all works. For a while. And then I get weary again, and I find myself lost in my own life rather than the lives of my characters.
And then I have to start over. Put myself back in that place. Move back into my characters’ heads. Read and reread what I’ve read and reread a hundred times already. And it’s exhausting to do it that way. Almost as exhausting as my work life is on a day-to-day basis.
OK, OK, enough with the “woe is me.” What to do about it??? Hmmm…. Honestly, I think I do have to cut back on my paid work. If I’m going to turn myself from a hobbyist to an author, I have to write fiction every day, pure and simple. I have to send those queries, every week, every day. I have to revise, revise, revise and kill my darlings. I have to put new words on the screen each night and greet them the next morning.
I want to be a writer. I am a writer. I just need to write.