This is number eight in Tom Corson-Knowles list, 15 Success Habits of Professional Writers and Authors. You know – I’m still not sure what the difference is between an author and a writer! I would guess that one is unpublished and the other is published- but how can you be a successful unpublished author? Anyway, aside from that – if you want to be successful, you will treat your writing as a career and not a hobby. How do you do that?
You Are a Writer
First and foremost, never say that you “want to be a writer.” Like the sage Yoda, you either are or you aren’t. There’s no “want” about it. Say you are a writer! There is no special membership you have to join before you can proclaim to the world that you are a writer. You just write. And you say that you write. And therefore, you are a writer.
Schedule Time To Write
Next, you must devote your time to your writing. How much time depends on your circumstances, but you must devote more time to your writing than you do to your hobbies. If watching TV is a hobby (and few of us can claim that we have made a career of watching TV) then you must write more than you watch TV. If you currently watch 10 hours of television a week, and have no time to write, then you should rethink your priorities. If you are a writer, you might need to cut back your television viewing habits significantly. Maybe you’ll watch TV only two hours a week, and then you’ll have eight hours to invest in your writing.
Except for the hallowed few, many writers have to work at a secondary job to “pay the bills” and therefore do not have forty to fifty hours a week that they can spend writing. Work out your schedule. How many hours do you have to devote to your other job? To family, children, church, and social obligations? How much time do you need to sleep, eat, and take care of yourself? Subtract that from the number of hours in the week to find the total hours you have to spend writing. Then put that on your schedule to do it!
A Place for Writing
Having a place to write may make the difference between remaining a hobby writer and becoming a professional writer. Do you plop on the couch in front of your favorite TV show with your laptop and a beer? You might find yourself more productive if you have a separate office area. Find a room, or part of a room, in your house that you can devote to your writing. Set yourself up with a good desk and a properly fitting office chair. I have a laptop computer, but I do most of my writing on my desktop. I use my laptop for travel, or when the Internet goes out at my rural home (a regular event) and I take my laptop in to a local cafe for the day.
I recently painted my home office. It used to have walls the color of a newborn’s diaper – a rather sickly yellow. Now the walls are a fresh, spring green. Now, suddenly, it is a room where I want to spend time! I feel more cheerful when I’m in here, not like I’ve isolated myself from the family, but that I’ve stolen away to my private retreat. Sometimes I get tired of sitting at my very comfortable office chair, so I have an exercycle in my office, and a guest bed. I can spin a bit on the cycle to loosen up stiff muscles, or I can stretch out on the bed with my laptop. But most of the time, I’m at my desk, plunking away at my desktop.
Another benefit to having a home office, besides productivity, is having the tax break – but that’s another topic.
The Writing Habit
You must write every day. A successful writer writes! This isn’t something you do when the mood hits you. You’ll never finish your book if you wait for the right mood. There is some research to suggest that “writer’s block” is nothing more than laziness. That historically, writers wrote every day, because they were disciplined, but in our culture, we lack discipline and so allow ourselves the “out” by saying that we can’t write because our muse isn’t working today… and therefore, we are “blocked.” I’m not sure what I think about that. I know I’m undisciplined, and I need to work on that!
Here’s to your success!
Photo Credit: Home office by Carlos Porto