As it’s Retrospective Month (AKA our 5th anniversary), I’m going to pull a post from the archives from way back. It was originally titled “Your Argument Is Invalid” and published on January 16, 2012 at our first space. I think it’s still relevant today, and totally appropriate for our month of reflection.
Seeing as how this is my first post of the New Year, let’s talk about resolutions. [ETA: It was January, remember.]
It’s been awhile since I’ve addressed the real issue that inspired this post, but things of late have brought it to the forefront again.
How many of you either resolved to or know someone who has resolved to “write a book” this year? Or better yet, “publish a book?” We all know a person like this, right?
It’s probably the exact same person who says they “wish they had time to write.”
It’s probably the exact same person who wishes they always had time for *insert whatever here*.
This person (whom I shall call “Wishful” for the purposes of this post) always gets that sad, longing look when they ask you about things you’re doing. They always ask. Why? Because you don’t tell them (because you want to avoid the Sad Longing Look/Sigh you’ve learned to expect from them), and because they’ve learned to live vicariously through you.
You’re not their inspiration.
You’re their fix.
“I wish I could _____. You’re so ______. If I had ______ I could ______.”
Wishful thinks that you have a perfect life. Wishful thinks that everything is always in place for you. Wishful thinks everything works out perfectly for you. Wishful thinks everything you touch turns to gold. Wishful KNOWS that everything is easy for you because you do so much and they can’t (*cough*won’t – let’s call it what it is*cough*) do everything you do. They have kids. They have a job. They have TV shows to watch. They have pets. They have a bad back/knee/disability/illness. They have a MILLION excuses as to why they can’t do what they want to do/what you do.
And you can’t tell them that you have all those things too, only they’re not excuses to you.
Most writers I know have day jobs, kids, pets, laundry, bills, dirty houses, disability, life tragedies, unfortunate circumstances and anything else Wishful offers up as an excuse as to why they can’t write. I have several of those excuses myself (please don’t look in the bathroom…I think something in there has achieved sentience). Oh, they’ll dabble every now and then. They’ll put up a couple hundred words. Maybe even a couple thousand. Then they won’t do it again for another year or five.
Wishful doesn’t understand – and will never understand – that you’re either a writer or you’re not. Writers don’t “want” to write – they HAVE TO. You don’t “become a writer.” You just are one. You can become a BETTER writer, but you don’t just wake up one day, quit your day job and start writing bestselling novels and make loads of money. Wishful thinks this is how it works.
Wishful thinks that you just sit at your computer or with a legal pad or notebook and the words magically appear. Plot, structure, character development, world-building – all those just happen as you put those magic words down. Wishful also thinks that you have elves or fairies that live in your house and do your laundry, wash your dishes, and clean your bathroom. Wishful thinks that your day job is really a place you go to get a massage and play video games all day, your kids are perfectly behaved, your animals never get sick or make messes, and that anything you do is effortless.
Wishful knows you don’t have to pay bills or need to make money like they do to pay them. Your life is perfect. You get to do what you want all day. You don’t have to work for anything. You get to write all the time!
Drives. Me. Insane.
You don’t “want to write.” You write. You don’t “want to start going to the gym.” You fucking GO. You don’t “want to stop drinking soda.” You STOP BUYING IT.
Anything you want to do/make/change in your life, you have to work for. That’s what Wishful will never understand. This is what makes writers different from the Wishfuls. We work to create our worlds and characters and stories in between picking up the kids from school and making dinner, or on our lunch hour. We make the sacrifices the Wishfuls don’t. We choose an hour with the laptop instead of an hour of TV. We reward ourselves with an hour of *insert hobby of your choice here* for an hour of writing.
We do what we do in between Real Life. In between bills and kids and pets and dishes and scrubbing the tub and folding laundry.
Writers are not the lazy people who have everything go their way that the Wishfuls of the world think we are, and it’s a mistake to get in my face about it. Don’t sigh wistfully at me and tell me you want to write.
Fucking write. It’s that simple. Turn off the TV and make with the words, not with the excuses.
And that works with anything else you want. Want to climb Everest? Might cut into your writing time, but if that’s what you want to do, go fucking do that. Go take classes and learn how to climb that mountain. (If anyone starts singing, I’ll stab you with a knitting needle.) Want a clean house? Get off the computer and go sweep the floor. Those of you with kids? There’s your own cleaning crew. It won’t kill their spirit or make you an evil parent if you delegate a little. Even young kids can pick up their toys and put them in a box. I know – it’s what my mom had me do. Have Johnny do the dishes while Sally folds the laundry. Kids like to help, and writer-parents like to make words. It’s win/win. If they don’t want to…well…which one of you is the parent, here?
Whatever excuse you offer, I’ll counter it. Why?
Because I don’t believe in excuses. If you want something to happen badly enough, you make it happen. As much as I hate quoting the Light Side of the Force, Jedi Master Yoda had it right when he said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” (Join the Dark Side! We have cookies!)
And that’s really what it comes down to. How badly do you want it? A writer I know once said something to the effect of “the publishing industry is designed to weed out those who don’t want it badly enough.”
Guess what? That applies to life in general. If you want a clean bathroom, short of winning the lottery and hiring a housekeeper, that’s on you.
Then you go write.
And there you have it! Don’t forget, we have giveaways going on the rest of the month in celebration! Go enter if you haven’t already!