You’re in a group of people, perhaps at a gathering consisting mainly of people you’ve never met. When asked what you do (what we “do” is closely connected with what/who we are) you answer, perhaps with a touch of uncertainty,”I’m a writer.”
To yourself, you think —maybe. Those thoughts enter your mind and sneak around, planting dark doubts in little corners of your mind where they can grow and infect the positive thoughts you try to nurture. Like microbes in a petri dish.
Alone with your thoughts you try to analyze your attitude toward writing and how you handle the job of working by yourself while choosing how to spend your time. It seems the whole world is crying out for attention: The inbox each day offers workshops, clinics, how-to books on writing and marketing. A webinar invitation looks interesting, or a book that we must read, or a blog we want to follow up on: All of these distractions nibble away at our time when we should be at our keyboards busy writing, turning out volumes of prose, poetry, or fiction–whatever our specialty. Instead we are reading emails of every sort, studying writers’ tips that seem to bombard us from various sources, or reading just because we are in love with the printed word. Oh yes, and plugging away, sending queries and manuscripts to those editors who haven’t yet heard of our remarkable talents.
So when someone asks us what we do, perhaps we should just smile and look mysterious: “I work for myself.” That statement can have many meanings, especially in this day of economic turmoil when working for oneself can entirely consist of sending out resumes and applications for a job to replace the one we just lost.
However, should this sound gloomy, we writers sit in the driver’s seat when it comes to choosing how to spend our working hours. The trick is to fit all the pieces of marketing, creating, learning, and networking into a neat pattern. All that and keep our personal lives separate. Some folks can do this. I have heard of one writer who takes an hour every morning, drinking hot chocolate and grinding out a page or two before her family wakes up. How I envy her.
Discipline, discipline, discipline: the prosaic segment of creativity. That and this odd defective gene that keeps us thinking about rearranging, and printing words. Words, wonderful words: nouns that can be verbs, adverbs that must be eliminated, adjectives that must evoke emotion, sentences to be constructed, chopped up and put back, etc. etc. etc……..