When I was in school, I had an English teacher who made it very clear that I was a failure at writing. Not taking it personally, I simply found her to be a bad teacher. Which I hate to say, bad teachers are pretty common out there. It’s pretty bad when we pay police more to arrest and jail people, than the teachers who have proven education reduces crime.
This isn’t going to be one of those types of blogs. This blog is about why I make a living out of writing, without having a day job and most writers don’t.
There first thing that has to be looked at is that most writers don’t write. Yes, it is contradictory, yet it is none-the-less true. Most writers spend a lot of time talking about writing. They Facebook about it. They tweet about it. They even blog about it. They just simply don’t take the time to actually push the pen and complete the project. ANY project.
This doesn’t mean that if you use the social medias as an expression of your writing that you can’t claim to be a writer. Far from it. This is about those that talk about the novel they are writing on those social medias, but never get past the outline, first draft, or the editing process. They simply do not work the process that is needed to complete a product and get it out there on the market. Which is rather sad, since there are a lot great stories waiting to be told.
As a professional writer, outside of my meetings every week, I spend 30-40 hours actually pushing the pen. This doesn’t include the thought process, but does include the outlining, drafting, writing, editing and polishing a story, project, or contracted piece. This is why I’m a professional writer that makes a living out of it. I actually write. Not only do I write, but I write aggressively. Taking this stand, I currently have 16 projects in the works, at various stages. Some are sitting on the desks of decision makers, others are in groom & polish mode, some are in editing, some are out with others for feedback and some are just being outlined. This number does not include the pieces I have ideas on, but haven’t taken the time to start the outlining process. There are hundreds, if not thousands of those.
Let me give you an idea of what an average week of mine looks like. Maybe this will help some of you take the risk and put forth the effort needed to complete a project. I can only hope.
Sunday – This is the day my week starts on. I usually wake up a little later than usual. Around 10-11. Rest is important to the writing process. First thing I do is check my emails. I might have an emergency writing project, which I can bill at a greater rate, due to it being the weekend.
Copywriting is a great way to make extra money. I have several companies that contract me to handle their copywriting.
After checking my emails I figure out which project I’m going to focus on today and while taking the dogs for their morning walk, I think about what needs to be worked out in the storyline, how it needs to be approached, what a character is missing, etc. This gets my mind into the mood to write.
If you don’t get excited about pushing the pen, than this is probably not the best business for you to be in. Feel free to keep it as a hobby.
I’m not much of a breakfast guy, so I grab a glass of milk and sit down at my computer. I review my social media, since it is part of the marketing of your services and it allows you to network with other writers, take a few minutes to respond to messages, answer questions and stay connected. I catch the headlines and a few stories. This all helps to get the creative juices flowing.
I then open the project that is the focus of the day. After working on this project for 1-2 hours, I take a break. This is usually when I start getting hungry, so I grab a bite, make myself something to drink. Ice tea or Dr. Pepper is my choice of work drinks throughout the day. Dr. Pepper takes me down the street to the mini-mart and a car ride for the dogs. This also allows me time to figure out any sticking points on the storyline, or possible solutions to any issues I find that I have in the project. Otherwise I think up new projects and note them in my phone, or on a tablet which I keep with me.
Now, I’m back home and writing again for the next 2-3 hours. Often I’ll switch between projects. This keeps me from getting the BS term ‘Writers Block’. I have never had it. I have helped others break writers block by simply teaching them to switch between projects when they can’t think of what needs to be handled with the current one. This is their mind getting tired. The mind rests by switching topics. So, go to a different type of writing. Drama to comedy to action to thriller. From a poem to short story to a novel to a screenplay. Keep the mind working and trained.
The key to overcoming ‘Writers Block’ is to keep pushing the pen. Nothing else will do it. Sitting on your hands is not the answer. Just keep pushing the pen in one form or another. It is literally that simple. This is why.
Writing professionally requires two things. The first is the ability to write. This is often the artistic aspect to the writing that can come naturally to a person. The second is the learned knowledge of writing. This is the part you learn. Either in school, by reading everything to expand your understanding, by studying on your own, in groups, in class, or a hundred other methods. Use as many as possible.
My Sunday is now past lunch. I take the rats out for a while, or take the dogs for another walk. This round I let my mind rest and wander. Often basic ideas come up during this time. I note them for later development.
When I get back I will often watch a show on the internet. Yes, this is enjoyable, but it is also research. I’ll usually focus on shows that are along the lines of what I’m currently writing. This is not to rip of their ideas, but rather to steer away from what the main stream is doing. I like to come up with original flows of thought. Studying the market you work in helps you do your job. Since TV and movies are part of my market, I study them.
Spending the next 30 minutes to an hour, I make notes on ideas, brainstorm a new storyline, or work on an old one that is being developed.
After that, my day is done.
Monday-Friday. Waking up around 9, I start the process over that I did on Sunday, but it is now interlaced with meetings, which I try to schedule for the same day. Along with this I add errands to the list of things. Dropping off and mailing out submissions, checking the mail for payments, responses, etc. Often I’ll add personal errands to this period of time. Keeps things efficient. During the week I also send out my billing, make business calls for new projects, talk with those that have my projects and also have meetings on the internet. Saves time.
Now, unlike Sunday, I write well into the early hours. Often I find myself up and writing, only going to bed between 2-4 in the morning. Sometimes even later. Yet, I’m still up and running by 9 am.
Setting a basic schedule and sticking to it is key in the writing process. Your mind will become familiar with the schedule and ready to work when you sit down to do your job. Your job is to write.
Saturday – Often I’ll take Saturday off. Yet, because I truly love my job, I will often find myself sitting down writing something.
Throughout this process, I usually have 3-4 books I’m reading. Reading is very important to the writing process. Reading everything not nailed down will make you a better writer. It is literally that simple.
I write. I do not limit myself to a genre, to a style, to a particular project type. I write everything. Novels, short stories (not my forte), screenplays, poetry, songs, copy for business collateral, business plans, edit others work, consult on writing and anything else that I can put words with. This is writing as a profession.
One other thing I’ll mention before closing this blog out. A drink or two when you are writing helps at the beginning of a project. It lowers your inhibitions, allowing for a little extra honesty and creativity without the restrictions. I don’t recommend you drink too much while doing your edits though. That is where your faculties need to be sharp.
Remember one simple thing. A professional writer does one thing no matter what… Keeps Pushing The Pen.