Most writers dream of being published.
That’s a given. Sure, there are a few people who just love to write with no intention of getting published. That’s fine. I have written many things which will never reach another reader in my lifetime. An example of this is my private journal. I use this to record events in my life, reflecting on how these events have shaped and influenced me. This journal is just for me but it might be read in the future by my children or even my grandchildren, but I doubt if they will have the stamina.
Getting back to my theory that most writers dream of being published I realise that many aspiring writers will inevitably be disappointed. It is a tough gig and getting tougher to break into the established publishing world. Ironically it is also becoming easier – if you consider blogs and ebooks. That is a topic for another day.
Some unpublished writers love the idea of having written. They dream about someday writing a book. The problem is – they don’t realise the effort it takes to write a book. It takes enormous discipline and single-mindedness to finish a book. My latest children’s novel went through 17 drafts. Significant portions of it were rewritten many times. Large slabs were written – only to be deleted later. Most people don’t have that sort of patience. Mind you – I had some help in the discipline side of things. The novel was for my Masters degree and I had two supervisors gently pushing me along, not to mention an insistent wife.
If you want to be a published writer you have to do two things: read widely and write daily.
Oh, I forgot… those two steps may take you five or ten or twenty years – or even a lifetime before you see your name in print.
But, I hear you cry – I don’t have the time to do that. So the only solution is to make the time. You can’t be a published writer with a string of publishing credits if you spend five hours a day watching television. It won’t happen. In fact, there are many things you will have to sacrifice to be successful as a writer. An article I read recently lists 7 things to give up so you have more time to write. The author makes some great points, but for me I’d add several more:
- Severely control how often you access social media. They will suck the time out of your day.
- Sacrifice some sleeping time. On a cold winter’s morning it may be tempting to sleep in. Don’t.
- Housework. Sure, some housework must be given attention, but would you rather have a reasonably clean home and be published – or a spotless home and nothing written.
I’m sure you can think of time and energy thieves in your life.
A week or so ago I wrote here how I had been overtaken by sickness. I am steadily improving from my recent bout of bronchitis but it has taken over six weeks of my life. During that time I have struggled to do any writing at all. Even catching up on reading has been difficult.
Life is on the improve, however, and this week I have managed to write quite a few blog posts here and on my other sites (Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels). These articles I have scheduled to appear here and on the other sites over the coming weeks. Once I have enough scheduled for a few weeks I can then concentrate slabs of time on other writing projects. Clearing the deck, so to speak. Strategic planning. Forward thinking.
Sickness can be quite a problem for writers. You don’t get paid on the days off. There are no sickness benefits or sick leave days available. Suck it up and get over it. This is a dilemma when the illness drags on for weeks or even months rather than days. Earlier this week my attention was drawn to an article called “Writing while sick“. Some good advice there so it’s worth a read. I’ll wait here until you get back.
Good writing – and may your life be filled with good health.
I have to admit that birds inspire me. Not only do I write regularly about them on my site Trevor’s Birding, I also use every opportunity to get out into the the garden or the surrounding bushland to watch and photograph birds. I also enjoy visiting various zoos around Australia. Some of these, like my home zoo in Adelaide, have walk through aviaries which make the photography of birds a little less challenging, and often very rewarding.
Because of my love of our many wonderful birds here in Australia I have found myself writing frequently about them, not just on my birding site. I have written dozens of poems about them as well as featuring them in short stories and in my novels. Somehow, some of them always creep in – almost uninvited. As a spin-off from my writing and photography I also get many requests to be a guest speaker, showing my bird photos to community groups. Publishers now send me books about birds to review which is a delightful bonus.
Birds can be inspiring to everyone. Even if you are not as obsessive about them as I am, I’d recommend that you take time out to not only smell the roses, but to also watch the birds. If you lack bird life in your neighbourhood, seek out a nearby park, lake, swamp, zoo, river or seashore. Sit and watch the birds going about their daily activities. Let their beauty inspire you. You may find that just being near these wonderful creatures is enough to refresh you for your next writing session. You don’t have to even write about them.
Writing is not only a lonely occupation, it can be exhausting. Sitting at the keyboard for many hours each day is not only mentally draining, it can actually be physically demanding.After four or five hours of being on the creative edge, the body screams for a change of some kind.
I find that long writing sessions can actually be counter productive. The ability to continue being creative wanes and the brain starts to switch off. As an aside, I find that managing my diabetes is quite a challenge while writing as I can easily get very drowsy.
Sometimes I just need to take a complete break and have nap – just like my friends at my local zoo shown in the photos on this post. Often a 20 minute nap refreshes me enough to keep on going for several more hours.
Ideas to help you relax
I did a little brainstorming and came up with a few ideas on how you could take a break from writing and refresh the creative juices. Here’s my list:
- Take a nap – but not too long.
- Go for a walk. The fresh air and exercise will do you good.
- Visit the local river, lake, park or lookout and let the environment inspire you afresh.
- Meet a friend for coffee.
- Make a cup of tea or mug of coffee and sit in the garden and let the plants inspire you.
- Read an inspiring book.
- Weed the garden.
- Water the lawn or your pot plants.
- Watch the birds going about their daily activities.
- Take some photos of flowers in your garden.
- Go for a bicycle ride.
- Have a light snack.
- Listen to your favourite music and let it inspire you.
- Sit in the sun and relax while you soak up some vitamin D.
- Go for a swim, visit the gym or just do some simple exercises to get the blood flowing to your brain.
I hope some of these ideas help you, because most of them have helped me on many occasions.
Reader activity: What do you do to relax during long writing sessions? Please share them via the comments. Thanks.
One last hint: get back to writing!
I haven’t posted much here in recent weeks. I have been very sick with a debilitating bout of bronchitis. It started last month – four and a half weeks ago and is still lingering around like an unwelcome bad smell. I feel – and hope – that I am over the worst of it and can get back to writing more posts here and on my other sites, Trevor’s Birding and Trevor’s Travels.
Adding to my woes is the fact that we have had above average rainfall, both here in Murray Bridge, South Australia, and during our stay with family in Sydney a month ago. It has meant that I haven’t been about to get out and do some of the things I like doing, like birding and gardening. Goodness, I was so sick I did not even do a great deal of reading.
It has also meant that I have not made any progress on editing and submitting poems and short stories to magazines and competitions. I also have more editing to do on several larger novel length projects I have waiting in the wings.
I am now hopeful that as my health improves I will be able to get to these projects and see some fruit for my labours. During this enforced time of recuperation I have just had to let go of my desire to be writing long hours each day and concentrate on getting better. I guess many writers experience seasons of non-productivity. Looking through my calendar I can see that the next few months could well be one of my more productive periods.