There’s an old mantra that gets floated here and there by teachers, editors, and “successful” writers. It’s a simple, memorable nugget that gets said in a few thousand variations but nonetheless remains the same: “Writers write.”
Writers don’t have grand ideas that stay in their heads.
Writers don’t just talk about that book they want to publish someday.
Writers don’t make excuses.
I think it was Jon Acuff who wrote, “You always have enough time in the day to do what’s most important to you.” That’s true.
Everyone who says, “I can’t do X,Y, or Z, because of A,B, and C.” simply values the latter set of items more than the former, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe ‘A’ is your kids, ‘B’ is your job, and ‘C’ is making sure your home looks presentable. In fact, A, B, and C, could be vitally important, morally excellent pursuits.
But every day, we each get 24-hours. Each and every one of us has the same balance in our time in our account to use daily, and like a money manager tells its money where to go, a time manager assures his time is well spent. And let’s be really honest, for about 90% of the population (at least in the US specifically), it’s not just A,B,C where we invest time. It’s A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I, etc., etc..
Committing to the task of sub-creation that will likely never extend beyond friends, family, and a handful of others is usually around ‘P’or ‘Q’ in our personal task alphabets, between “send a loved one an encouraging e-mail” and “enjoy a cup of coffee in silence as an act of rest”. It’s in the back half of our daily priorities, where most of us stash our vibrant, beautiful, soul-feeding activities that we’ve been trained—if even on a subconscious level—to undervalue because they don’t add to the nation’s GDP or they’re “selfish”.
So, that being the case, the above mantra could not be more true: Writer’s do, indeed, write. Whatever other tasks hit their plate from dawn to dusk, they find a way. Most of us do some amount of it in the morning, because it IS just that important to us. We allow it to be in E-H range on our alphabet of priorities, otherwise it gets pushed further and further down the list.
And that’s what makes us writers.
It’s not selling a thousand copies of our self-published novel.
It’s not being interviewed about our book on a blog or podcast.
It’s not having a launch party, winning awards, or having a stranger review your work on Goodreads.
All of the above have a sense of accomplishment to them, but they are the results of the writing, not the writing itself.
The writing is, well, the writing. Day-in. Day-out. Prioritizing the act, practicing craft, and being willing to just. Keep. GOING (esp. on days that you do not want to).
Being a writer guarantees you nothing—-neither respect nor admiration, and certainly not commercial success. Funny thing, however, is that it grants you a kind of rare satisfaction that says, “I am a writer.” And that satisfaction is priceless.
So if you are a writer, LIVE in that satisfaction, in and of itself. You are doing it.
If you’re not and want to be. Start today. Start S.M.A.R.T. (Small, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). Start how I did: 20-minutes a day within the first hour or two that you are awake. The sooner the better. In time, it will turn to 40 minutes, then it will turn to finding 6 minutes here or a half-hour there. You will be sneaking in writing sessions all day, and you’ll be able to “turn it on” when you need to. Takes time, effort, and energy, but you can get there. And become a writer, just as you said you would.
Thanks for reading,