Today is my first day being a writer.
Huh? What d’ya mean, first day being a writer? You’ve had this blog for 17 months, posted 128 articles, written nearly 90,000 words and had 35,000 views!
I thought you’d put all that “am I / aren’t” I nonsense behind you when you posted the article http://www.tonyquarrington.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/yes-i-am-a-writer/ .
So did I, but I was wrong. I may be writing but I’m not living the life of a writer.
Yes, I’ve derived some personal satisfaction from doing it and thought some pieces were actually pretty good. And I’ve had a number of gratifying compliments along the way. But it just doesn’t feel right.
So what does this “living the life of a writer” that you’re so obviously failing at really mean?
It’s difficult to define but it’s to do with it being at the centre of my life – and it’s not. I have other commitments which, when push comes to shove, take priority and demand my time at the expense of writing.
Well, of course, we all do, and it’s only right and proper that they should on occasions. I think you’re being too hard on yourself.
Perhaps. I suppose, like everything in life, it’s a question of balance and something that I just have to keep working at.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge a second of the other important things in my life. It’s the time in which I could write that I am not making the most of.
So what do you need to change?
I continue to be too easily prone to distractions – social, digital and psychological. I have always been so and probably will never change. But I need to eliminate, or at least manage, them better than I do, starting today.
So that’s all you have to do then is it?
Hardly, that’s only improving the environment in which I can operate – there’s much more to it than that. I knew from the outset that, in this ultra-competitive world of writing, I was not going to be “discovered” overnight and handed a multi-book deal or a prestige magazine column just by virtue of a few blog posts.
But in effect that’s what I have done – sat back and waited for someone with influence to say “hey Tony, we really like your work, can you write us an article on x, we’ll pay you for it”. Not going to happen.
It’s not only sisters that are doing it for themselves nowadays – I need to put myself out there, make things happen.
So what specifically do you need to do?
I have a significant body of work, some of which I know can be adapted into pieces for relevant magazines, competition entries and more substantial commissions, and, essentially, made better.
I need to be more disciplined, dynamic and determined. The compulsion to write is definitely there but indolence still reigns (thought I’d throw in a Diamond Jubilee reference there).
At the beginning of this year I set myself writing goals for the next 3 years and detailed plans for this year, but, after a satisfactory start, they are not being followed through at present. I could blame, as always, distractions such as the April holiday in San Francisco and subsequent long days spent at the cricket, both of which have spawned some writing pieces, but it is too easy to do that and I won’t do it anymore.
It’s time for proper planning, structure, organisation – and drive.
Time to contact those magazines that might find both my existing and future work interesting and worthy, just possibly, of publishing, however meagre the remuneration might be.
Time to enter those writing competitions (I have identified a couple today that have deadlines of the end of June/ beginning of July that look promising and require “only” a revision and adaptatation of articles that have appeared previously on the blog).
Time to eliminate the distractions – not have e mails, Facebook, Twitter and cricket forums open on my laptop when I’m meant to be writing, let the telephone go to voicemail, and stop flicking the television on to catch the Piers Morgan Tonight show on CNN or the latest jousting at the Leveson enquiry (which drone on interminably but are nonetheless fascinating).
Time to read much more.
Time to stop talking (and scribbling) about doing all of those things and get on and do them.
Time to get serious.
Well, I wish you luck.
Thanks, now where’s that e mail I must reply to?