Sunday, April 10, 2011

Quit Your Day Job

Since I was about sixteen, I've known what I want to do with my life. I want to write. I do write, of course, but I want to write full time.

The problem with this, I think, is that I'm not a very good writer. Don't get me wrong, I write very well*, but the fact is, I'm lazy. I'm inconsistent. I'll write for days at a time, forgo showering and eating, answer people with one-word sentences or entirely incoherent grunts - and I'll spend weeks at a time only writing a sentence here or there, marking down things I need to research to be dealt with later. I flit from one story to the next, so nothing ever gets finished.

When I was younger, I put a lot more into my writing, because I had a lot more to put. My last year of high school, I went to school full time, worked full time and wrote in every spare minute. I kept track of tonnes of stories in my head and never wrote outlines because I didn't need them. The only class I never skipped was Writer's Craft, because it was the only class I cared about - and the only one that I could really see benefiting me in the long run.

As I've gotten older, my ability to keep my energy up, my ability to keep track of everything I'm doing, and my ability to go for several nights without sleep and not feel the effects, have slowly drained away - but the bad habits I got into as a teenager have never really left me.

Of course, the other thing - the more important thing - which hasn't left me, is my desire and determination to be a full-time writer.

There are a lot of theories out there on how one gets to be a full-time writer - and a lot of advice. Make contacts, build a platform, hire editors, do market research, take classes, submit work, read. It can't all be good, but I think most of it probably is, or at the very least, well-intentioned - but what you don't often see, or what I don't often see, is reference to the Nike approach. Just Do It.

I'm starting to think that could be the way to go. I want to write full time, so I will write full time. The end. I'm not saying I'm going to quit my day job and go live under a bridge with my laptop, a sleeping bag and an extension cord, but I think (and I could, admittedly, be very wrong) that the best way to become a full-time writer could very well be to simply write all of the time. If I put the time in, to writing and writing-related activities (including, of course, the platforms and submissions and reading and networking), it may well be enough to get myself noticed.

And if I'm wrong, I'll be spending a lot of time doing something I love. I'm having trouble seeing the bad there.

*I hope I write very well. If not, I've wasted an awful lot of time and energy on something which has brought me joy but may never bring me money or esteem or recognition of any kind.


E said...

This is an incredibly scary idea. At least, it seems like it to me. But if you've got a handle on the business side of things, and if you're willing to take the plunge, then good on you! That's incredibly exciting and I really hope it all turns out well for you. :D

Athena said...

It's kind of scary to contemplate putting that much in when the odds of getting anything tangable out are admittedly low... but at the same time, I really do love it, so it's work, but it's not work-work. Did that make sense?