Are you “shacking up” with your dream of writing for a living? Or are you really ready to make a commitment…like for real? In my years of working with writers, I have run across literally hundreds of individuals who claim to want to be best-selling career authors. But, over time, it soon became clear that they were more in love with the “idea” of writing than the actual work, commitment and life that went with it.
In effect, they were shacking up with their novel, enjoying the “dream with benefits.” Wink, wink, nod, nod. Don’t believe me? Hmmmmm. I have no idea why my crazy brain thought of this scenario….but it might feel painfully familiar.
Welcome to the first episode of As the Page Turns…
Novel: Why haven’t you called? Last January you said you were going to spend time with me every day.
Writer: I know Baby, and I’m sorry. I’ve been a real jerk.
Novel: I have called out to you, and you never answer. I feel like you are shutting me out. Where have you been?
Writer: You know. Busy. Work has really been a killer, and then I had some projects around the house and I’ve been meaning to spend time—
Novel: You just don’t care. You don’t care about our love anymore. I used to be your whole world. You were so excited about me and wanted to tell all your friends, and now you won’t even admit you’re a writer.
Writer: No, no, Baby don’t be like that. I’m trying to do better. I just can’t get my family to support our relationship, and my friends, well, they just don’t get my feelings for you. I’m not hiding…it’s just complicated. That’s all.
Novel: It isn’t complicated at all. Do you love me?
Writer: Of course. With all my heart and soul I love you. I knew I was born for you from the time I was small. I am happiest when I am with you.
Novel: Then help me understand, because I just don’t get it. You say you love me, that you want our future to be together, that you want to be with me all day every day, and yet you never write and you leave me alone most of the year. You won’t tell your friends and family we are in a relationship, and you only visit me when it is convenient.
Writer: No it isn’t like that…
Novel: It IS like that. When are you going to commit for real?
Writer: January 1st. I am going to give you so much attention you will get sick of me. I promise. I will even get an agent for us.
Novel: I’ve heard that before, and I’m not falling for it. Have you started blogging? A social media platform to let others know about me? About US?
Writer: Um, I was going to get to that…when I got an agent.
Novel: That isn’t a commitment. We have to build a nest for our future. Why are you so embarrassed to tell others about me?
Writer: I just, don’t want to be making a mistake. My father wanted to be a writer too and…..well it didn’t work out. He was devastated. I want to just see how it goes…in private and once we get to a certain point, then I’ll shout to the world that you and I are together, Baby I promise.
Novel: But you never spend time with me! And you won’t tell anyone I exist! And you won’t tell people you are committed to me, so they think you are available!
Writer: Baby, that isn’t true. You know I only have eyes for you.
Novel: Oh, really. What about that yoga class? Hmmm? Or the Scentsy Candle parties you agreed to host? You could have been spending time with me, but no. They thought you were available because you were playing SINGLE. Was yoga prettier than me?
Writer: Okay, now you are just being childish. Yoga and Scentsy meant nothing to me. It was a wild fling and I am just confused right now.
Novel: Well, you better get unconfused. I want a commitment or we will never work. I need an hour of your time a day and I need to know that we have a future. I need this, or me and the muse are gone. This year I am sticking my guns. I want an hour a day and I want a blog and Facebook and Twitter. I want a real demonstration that you care. That…or we are finished.
Tune in for the next episode of “As the Page Turns.” Will Writer finally give Novel the commitment she deserves? How long will Novel be content to stay in the shadows? Will Novel tell Writer she is carrying his unborn climactic scene?
Okay, I’ll stop. You guys get the point and I had way too much fun with that. Wednesday’s blog really rattled a lot of people. There is this mental block to stepping up and claiming to be a professional writer. Being a professional writer doesn’t mean that you get paid…yet. It is a mental shift. It is a shift in the relationship you have with your writing, from casual love affair to a lifelong commitment.
So are you “shacking up” with your writing or are you committed? Just like committed relationships with people have certain behaviors, commitment to being a writer does too. We can’t work on our writing only when it is emotionally gratifying for us. We have to elevate the work and slug away day after day even when it feels like we are walking barefoot across hot coals. Commitment means we make meaningful plans for the future. We invest time and resources and we let others know we are married to this future.
I’m sorry. I would love to go to the movies, but I really have to get my word count first. Can we do a later showing?
I began a novel writing workshop a year and a half ago in Fort Worth, Texas. We meet every Saturday for four hours where we guide a participant from idea to finished novel (and it is FREE). It is an innovative approach that is virtually guaranteed to create a novel that is query-ready by the end. For those who stick with the program, we have had AMAZING results. In the beginning we thought we would have a line out the door. That has yet to be a problem. Most people don’t want to give up their Saturdays….but they want to be best-selling authors. Right.
So as we make our way through the month of December and hurdle toward that New Year’s Resolution, we need to ask ourselves if we are genuinely committed to our writing, or are we just enjoying a “dream with benefits?” The answer might sting. How do you think I knew the above dialogue so well? 😀 I wasn’t always committed either. I was the world’s worst “Writing Gigolo,” drifting from genre to prettier new shiny genre. I would “commit” to one novel only to flirt with a new idea, and then drop the old novel like a hot potato. I wrote when I felt like it and when it was “good for me.” I was a bad, bad writer. A Prose Playboy of the worst sort, but I mended my ways. Even though I struggle with a wandering eye–Oooh! Scrapbooking!–I make sure I stay true to my one and only love. Novel. It takes work and sacrifice, but it is the greatest feeling in the world.
I hope to see you guys on Monday for Part 6 in the structure series. On Wednesday I am beginning a series to teach you guys how to blog effectively for platform. For those of you who read these blogs regularly, this is an excellent beginning to true commitment. We should always be seeking ways to grow and improve our “relationship” with our novels.
So what are some of the commitment issues you guys have been facing? Some fears? Are you and your novel in couple’s therapy? Are you a “Genre Gigolo?” A “Prose Playah?” Share here and we promise not to judge :D.
Happy writing! Until next time….
Now for the blatant self-promo for you guys ready to man up and commit to this writing thing ;).
My book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media lays out a step-by-step plan that is:
- FREE—I appreciate that most writers are BROKE. Aside from the cost of the book, your home computer and Internet connection, every tactic in my book is completely FREE
- FAST—If you are super motivated, it will take you a day to build your platform’s foundation. This foundation will give you roots on the top social media sites and link them together to where they feed each other.
- EASY—I tested this book on my 60 year-old mother who was afraid she would delete the Internet if she hit the wrong button. She now rules Facebook. Befriend her at your peril.
- LOW MAINTENANCE—Aside from writing blogs, which I highly recommend that you blog, you can build and maintain a platform in less than a half hour a day. The way I teach you makes you work smarter, not harder. You have blogs and best-selling books to write!
- RECOMMENDED–I have built many successful platforms using the methods I teach in this book. My book is recommended by literary agents.