Today’s guest post is by Beth Cadman.
Before taking the plunge to write full-time, I often found myself imagining how wonderful it must be.
To be able to manage my own time, to work wherever and whenever I wanted.
To sit in coffee shops, looking fantastically artistic and observing the world passing by, while the inspiration for a new book just “came to me.”
To never have another pointless team meeting again, or create another project management document, or Excel spreadsheet, or be bossed around by my very bossy boss.
To have the unwavering support of family and friends, who would eagerly read everything I wrote.
To live my life knowing that I wasn’t just another sucker in the rat race, that I was true to myself, and inevitably, definitely, the universe would reward me for that by making me a celebrated, world-famous author in no time at all.
So when I plucked up the courage and gave my notice to my very bossy boss to begin this new journey, it was rather a shock to the system.
I quickly learned some valuable lessons:
A coffee shop is quite a distracting and uncomfortable place to work, and they sometimes don’t like it if you only buy one coffee and then expect to be allowed to remain there for four hours.
It’s amazing how many “important jobs” you suddenly realize need doing around the house when faced with a rather threatening-looking blank page.
It’s quite challenging to get published, particularly if you spend more time cleaning the bathroom than actually writing.
It’s a Sacrifice
To be a successful, dedicated, and motivated writer, you must make many sacrifices, and the more you are willing to sacrifice, the more productive and prolific you can become.
In this modern world, writers can no longer just be excellent at writing. It isn’t enough. They must also be highly organized, meticulous researchers; good with finances; able to make drastic businesses decisions; be social media and marketing savvy; and willing to take knocks, setbacks, and criticism and yet continue to persevere despite there being zero guarantee of any reward.
Here are just some of the sacrifices all writers must make:
Whether you write full-time or you are one of those inspiring individuals who manage to write while also holding down a day job, being a dedicated writer takes time. We all know how important it is to create a writing schedule, to give ourselves deadlines, and to write regularly.
However, finding time to write isn’t easy, and every writer soon enough comes to the realization that if she wants time to write, she has to make time. That means discovering when you are at your most productive, and rearranging, canceling, or giving up other things in your life to make room for it.
Maybe you’ll have to get up an hour earlier, go to bed an hour later, or cancel your gym membership. Maybe you’ll need to give up Friday night drinks or make your partner take charge of dinner despite knowing this means microwave meals every night for the next month. Whatever you need to do, creating time to write is your biggest priority.
Find a writing schedule you are happy with, one that challenges you but isn’t impossible to stick to, and this will ensure that you keep putting words on the page—and as a writer, there is nothing more important than that.
You have to accept that there may be times during your writing career when your relationships suffer. You may become a social hermit and have to endure your friends moaning at you because you never come out anymore.
It could see you once again denying your partner date night because you are at a crucial turning point in your book. You might notice your beloved dog start favoring your other half because you no longer have time to play with him, or you may have to tell your cheeky-faced children when they peep around the door that they have to leave you alone because it’s “Mummy’s writing time,” despite feeling your heart crack in your chest every time you do it.
It can be complicated and challenging to acknowledge that your relationships are suffering because of your writing. However, it is essential to find balance. If you can make it up to your nearest and dearest and make sure they understand how important your work is to them, you’ll feel much better.
Organize one a night out once a month with friends, make sure your partner knows you still love him or her, give the dog a bone, and remember to give your kids attention at least some of the time. If you can do that, then it’s OK not to be the best friend/partner/parent you can be some the time.
Want to be a great writer? It’s time to say good-bye to your ego! The best writers acknowledge how tough the writing game is. They understand that readers won’t just “happen” upon your work. That not all people will think you are a creative genius, that the majority of the population, unfortunately, doesn’t care about your hopes and dreams and will at best ignore you—and, at worst, they might tell you you are no good.
Bad reviews and rejection are only half of it. Getting people even to read your writing can be a massive uphill struggle that can leave you feeling exhausted and deflated. People have so many choices to make these days that stopping to pay attention to a writer they’ve never heard of before is a big ask.
By putting your reader first, you are acknowledging that if you want to be heard, you have to write for an audience. You have to realize it can’t be all about you. If you can do that, you have taken an important step. You may have to sacrifice your ego, but by doing so you’ll stand a much better chance of writing something that people want to read.
Finally, it is essential to let go of your romantic ideals. Being a writer can be cathartic, uplifting, and fulfilling, but it can be all too easy for writers to live with their heads in the clouds.
It’s vital to remember that writing takes hard work, and it’s up to you to produce something compelling, entertaining, and moving to entice readers in.
Understand that it’s not all about being artistic and creative and that you probably will still use spreadsheets from time to time.
Accept that you have to admit your shortcomings, and you can always learn more.
It is by hard graft and being committed to continue to work, learn, and improve that you will give you the best chance of finding success.
Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary to be a brilliant writer? As we learn from all good tales, if a person wants something, the stakes must be high, and many obstacles may lie in the way.
Writers are warriors and the real heroes of their stories. Their bravery, commitment, resourcefulness, and determination never ceases to amaze, and if you are willing to go all in, success could be yours for the taking.
So get out there, be prepared to make those sacrifices, and it will all be so worth it in the end.
Bethany Cadman is the author of Doctor Vanilla’s Sunflowers and is a freelance writer and blogger. She has an MA in creative writing and has just finished her second novel, SWAP which should be hitting the bookshelves soon! Learn more about her work at her website.