This is a good question. It sounds quite straightforward at first, my obvious answer is, ‘hell yeah’, but is that really true. The idea of writing for a living is my dream, but I’m not there yet. The dream is as strong as it’s always been but that’s exactly what it still is, a dream.
The day in/day out grind of writing words that somehow make some kind of a cohesive message is another thing altogether. When I’m in that beautiful moment of flow that we all talk about, that’s when I enjoy writing but if I’m being honest, that doesn’t happen as soon as I sit down at the keyboard. So, for this post I’m going to detail some of the frustrations I have with writing.
Frustration comes from a false expectation of what you can realistically achieve. If all you ever want to do is write one sentence a day then you’ll be the happiest writer in the world. I can’t be like that. I want to create books, I want to create them now, I want a library of my stories all standing proudly on the shelf, spines out, and bloody tonnes of them.
Now, I know that the zen way of looking at this is ‘the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step’ and I write blog posts to reaffirm this to everyone else, but… practising what you preach is another thing altogether. I want to produce more books and I can’t get away from that, and so every time my current project stalls or wastes time, it eats away at me.
Chasing The Perfect Process
I write posts on this blog about how I approach a story. I’ve gone from one extreme to the other but I still make the same mistakes whichever way I go at it. The common frustration comes from having to rewrite due to an eleventh hour plot change. If you’ve planned a book, surely this shouldn’t happen, but it does. One area that I need to improve on as a writer is planning a story more thoroughly and therefore more efficiently.
What To Do Next?
There are too many options. Each one will be a significant investment of time so I need to choose correctly. I could write a series, or another novel, what about a screenplay, or a stage play. Maybe I’ll test out a short story, or a pilot novella? The problem with self-publishing is the same as the key benefit… Freedom of Choice. Without anyone governing what I should do and when, I’m left to mull these things over. I’m actually quite a decisive person usually, I make knee-jerk decisions continually but the timeframe for this question means I have time to double-back and reconsider.
Given my above frustrations regarding productivity, it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that I never have enough time to concentrate on marketing. I have to write more, how can I use up a day doing other stuff?
I’m referring to the distractions of life, not distractions when I’m at my desk. Working from home is flexible, you can make appointments whenever you need to, but as soon as you break your flow you’ve pretty much lost a day of writing. I’ve found that if I’m called away for half an hour, I can lose as much as two hours writing time. Given the above frustrations, I end up becoming this frantic lunatic at these appointments, and that frustrates me because I’m usually quite a laid back chap.
Writing is lonely. It can’t be anything else, really. You have to get into your own world and you have to stay in there. When the words flow it’s great, you don’t want to come out, but when you do come out I feel as though I need a period of de-pressurising. I can’t really communicate properly because my head’s somewhere else.
So, when I’m asked the question, ‘do I enjoy writing?’ you see why actually it’s not such the no-brainer you thought it was. It’s full of frustration, all coming from different angles, once you’ve defeated one source, it comes up from another place. It’s a constant battle. ‘The War of Art’ is a great book by Steven Pressfield which covers this idea, I’ve read it, but it still doesn’t make me a master, it just makes me aware of the war.
So, my answer is that I do enjoy the writing, but the frustration caused by the goals I want to achieve means that I can never enjoy it for long. Hopefully, as I achieve the goals, I’ll feel less frustrated and happiness will follow.
Until next time…