Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Writing Wednesday: It's Your Job!!!

I'm trying to get back into the thick of my Writing Wednesday advice posts. In looking for a topic to talk about today, something struck me - I'd been getting a lot of questions about a certain aspect of my writing life lately, and thought I'd tackle that. What is it?

How I manage to write lots of pages as if I'm fired up, in one single go?

I wish I could tell you there's a secret, or a formula. There isn't. It's just hard work. Not touting my own horn here, but this is what I mean.

Writing - being a writer - is my occupation. I am many other things (wife, mum, homemaker, student, freelance editor and cover artist, reviewer), but my primary occupation, what I do, is writing.

So is it as easy as parking one's butt in the chair in front  of the computer and just writing? It might look this way, but no, it isn't. There's a lot of work that goes behind being a writer.

Face it - when you're a writer, when writing is your occupation, then it becomes your job! Full stop. I've worked in corporate in the past. I started out as an administrative assistant (the blown up title to the original secretary) and moved my way up until I was an after-sales department coordinator. Every day, whether I felt like it or not, whether I was sick or not, whether I was blue or not 'feeling myself', I traipsed into that office at 8.30 AM after a one-hour commute in a hot, stuffy bus, sat down at my desk, fielded calls all day and got the technical staff's roster going at 10 AM, after which I'd be inputting all the tech reports of the previous day's jobs. At 4.30 PM, I left the office for a 45-minute trip home via a hot, stuffy bus again. Did I like my job? Not exactly. It paid well though and that was that.

But it was MY job, and I aimed to do it well.

Today I write. I don't get paid for it, at least not until I get a book contracted and it comes out and starts selling. I sit in my office, which is a sort of middle, floating space between the living room and the TV room in my house. I don't have the horrendous commute morning and afternoon, and no one bothers if I'm still in my pyjamas, not wearing makeup, my hair looks like a bird's nest, or if I ate too many almonds/peanuts last night and so my face broke out in pimples.

I get away with it, don't I?


When you're a writer, writing is your job! You do it everyday, whether you like it or not, whether you're sick or not, whether you're feeling blue or not. Just because you work from home and have no boss and no one to account to (even if you have an agent or a publisher who have given you a deadline, they're not physically there and breathing down your back, are they?)... doesn't mean you shouldn't take this writing business as your job. It is what you do. Full stop.

So if you worked in an office outside your home, what would you do? You'd have time dedicated for that job, say 9-4 every weekday. You wouldn't let other issues get in there, like, let me stay home because I didn't do the laundry. You'd fit the laundry somewhere before 8 or after 5. Just because you've been sniffling a little when you woke up doesn't mean you'll take a sick leave. In the office, 'people' are counting on you, you have a job to do.

Well, being a writer is no different! It's your job. If you get into this game to be a happy go lucky cute little butterfly who'll flitter from this flower to that flower and stop to smell the roses... Sweetie, let me spare you the pain of when you'll slam into that wall that's looming just ahead of you! Penning stories could've started as a hobby, or because you were totally annoyed with the soap opera script writers and wish you could tell them that Bryce has to end up with Jenna and cannot, for the love of God, be getting hitched with Janice while James sits there on the sidelines and watches the love of his life, Janice, making the biggest mistake she'll ever make because she's expecting Ethan's baby but everyone thinks it's Bryce's-- Get my drift?

When you become a writer, writing is not a hobby anymore. It's your job!

Sure, there will be 'off' days. There will be times when it feels like pulling words out of your brain is akin to pulling teeth out without novocaine just after you got a root canal done. There will be times when you don't 'feel like it'.

But when writing is your job, you don't have that luxury. Writing is a biatch of a job all right - you're not racking in the moolah when you do even manage to get a story contracted and selling. No one pays you a cent when you're toiling and pulling teeth. No one's there to take care of your house and laundry and cooking. There are definitely 'better' uses for your time on some occasions. Then when you do get a story out, all it takes is one nasty review to spin you through depression faster than you can say Prozac.

Yet, through all this, sometimes it does come back to you that you chose this job for a reason - because you love it. Because it's part of you.

That's why and how I write, and manage to get so many pages down in one go - because writing is my job and I aim to do the best I can at it.

Are there strategies to cope and get along with this state of things? There could be. I've found one that works for me and I'll share it with you another time.

Today I just wanted to say that when you're a writer, you write. That's it. That's all.

From Mauritius with love,



LM Spangler said...


Very well put. When I tell people I'm a writer I get a lot of blank looks. I guess most people don't realize that it IS work just like any other job.


Chicki Brown said...

I think Queen Nora Roberts said it best:

"If you need to believe in the muse, let's say, fine and dandy. Whatever works for you. But don't tell me you can't work today because the muse has left you. Go track down that fickle slut, drag her back, chain her to your keyboard, and GET TO WORK."


"I don't believe in waiting for inspiration. It's my job to sit down and figure out what to write. I think if you wait for 'the muse' you may wait a very long time."

Zee Monodee said...


I get the blank, glazed-eye look too when I say I'm a writer. People just think you're putting a few words together so how hard can that be, eh? They don't know the blood, sweat, tears and dedication that goes behind it all.


Zee Monodee said...


These are perfect illustrative words indeed. When it's a job, you don't have time to wait for the muse. You make her get here stat!