Time and money. One is finite, the other infinite. One I squander as though there’s an unlimited supply, the other I carefully monitor.
Time… I work with many writers who say they don’t have time to write. Yet they spend (interesting term) time in forums, they read Internet gossip, they “unwind” watching their favorite television shows, they spend hours chatting on the phone with friends.
Yeah. Everyone should get time to unwind. But if you have a burning desire to write, how will sitting numbly in front of a television build your dream? How will hanging out on forums or chatting on the phone propel you towards your ultimate desired destination?
Words do not write themselves, inspiration waits only for the person who has the courage to jump into its cold waters without thought of safety, reputation, or compensation.
Time is a finite resource, once a moment has passed, you’ll never experience it again. Combine that with the fact that our time in this plane of existence is limited and… well… get writing.
Money… it comes and goes.
Luckily, writing is a fairly inexpensive profession. All you need is a pencil, paper, and (eek) a thought.
Some writers seem to think they need extensive libraries. If you don’t have the money to build that writing library, visit the local library, take copious notes and build your knowledge base that way.
If you don’t have the money to write full time (if that’s your dream), then write in your spare time. And make sure you have spare time.
Most people find the resources they need for the activities they truly want to perform. Even in the teeth of a “great recession” you’ll find big screen TVs flowing out of your local Walmart at a record pace. These people found money for a multi-thousand dollar entertainment machine, I’m sure you can find any funds you need to perfect your craft.
In other words, if you truly want to write, you’ll find the money (and time) to do so.
But now we come to other’s opinions.
Writers aren’t necessarily the most popular people at parties. We tend to be an over-observant bunch and that can cause a bit of angst for others.
Sometimes we write things that others disagree with. Sometimes the most innocuous phrase will offend someone and you’ll receive angry correspondence. Worse yet, you’ll most certainly anger, offend, and hurt family members, despite your concerted efforts not to do so.
It’s not a matter of “if” you’ll offend someone, it’s a matter of “when.”
How do you handle this?
The only thing you can do is to hold your ultimate writing dream up front and center in all you do, whether you’re writing, promoting, or dealing with reader response.
Understand some people will love you, others won’t. It’s a fact of life. You can’t please everyone all the time. If you try to do this, you’ll not only turn yourself into a supremely ineffective writer, but your message will become an impotent pile of socially correct drivel that won’t touch anybody’s heart.
True, effective writing cuts deep and resonates long after the page has left the reader’s hand. This is honest writing, often embarrassing, that has nothing to do with subjects, predicates, well structured sentences, and dangling participles.
It has everything to do with raw communication, sensation eclipsing your words, making them invisible. It’s about word painting images in your reader’s mind until they’re carried away, breathless, on a stream of emotion to a place they want to linger.
It’s pricking your reader’s soft spot until they awaken long enough to really hear your message.
How do you do this?
For starters, you can dump the mindless activities. Get engaged in life, watching, living… awake.
The great John Carlton (he’s a famous copywriter, look him up) says something to the effect that most humans walk around in a self inflicted haze, blindly gimping from one activity to the next. We live a life of patterns, one after another, rarely deviating from our routine.
Don’t believe me? Try dressing differently tomorrow. Put the other shoe on first. Wear something totally different from the norm. Apply your makeup before you brush your teeth. You’ll quickly discover what a creature of habit you are.
Well, these patterns combine to create a life-long trance where we’re told in a million subtle and not so subtle ways how to dress, what to eat, what to think, and how to act. Deviate from this mass-controlled trance and you’ll experience freedom unlike anything you’ve ever experienced . By the way, you’ll also likely experience the phenomenon of social stigma.
Another wise person said it best when he said, “People laugh at sheep, at how compliant they are. But humans have out sheeped the sheep. When a sheep gets out of line, the shepherd gets them back in place. When a human falls “out of line,” his fellow humans will ostracize him, mock him, shun him, make his life miserable until he steps back into the social norm.”
Most writers write because it’s a compulsion, not a choice. There’s a message to be released and if you don’t do it, you’ll live a miserable existence.
Finally releasing that message often entails this “waking up” process I just mentioned. Pursuing a dream is most definitely something that can shake up a few social norms and the dreamer often experiences tremendous social stigma when they’re foolish enough to do something so crazy.
But like it or not, we’re the scribes of the day. It’s our job to document what we see, experience, and feel in an honest fashion.
We’re the supposed thinkers of our age. May our writings prompt others to break out of their patterns just long enough engage in a few cerebral gymnastics as well.
Words contain power. May each of us use that power in a responsible fashion.
Writing isn’t for the faint of heart, but the rewards for a message accurately transmitted are phenomenal. I urge you to truly wake up and give it a whirl. The results will surprise you.