Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Four Letter Word Every Writer Must Know And Use

There's a four letter word every writer must know and use daily.  It's W-O-R-K so get those minds out of the gutter.  Work is the driving force behind any successful writer and anyone afraid to work hard may want to reconsider writing as an occupation, full or part time.

It may not be the secret to success but it's certainly a major tool.  Since I've become a full time writer and author I work far longer hours than I ever did for anyone else in the wide world and I'm probably a harder taskmaster than any of my bosses ever were.  That doesn't mean I didn't bust my arse when I held a paying job because I did.  I always gave my job two hundred percent and yes, I often stayed past my normal shift.  It's different, however, when you fly solo and if I didn't crack the whip over my own head, no one else would.

I run across so many people who want to write and at least half of them think it would be a dream occupation.  Too many of them think writing must be the easiest job in the world - after all, I don't do a thing but sit here and let my creative juices flow, put them down for posterity and send them away to be accepted, published, and earn rave reviews, right?

Wrong on all counts.

Ideas are just the beginning and writing, although a major part of construction, is one more step.  Honing your writing until your words are the best you can make them is vital.  So is knowing what to write, where to send it, and oh, yes, how to promote it.  An acceptance - be it of an article, short story, poem, or novel - is the beginning, not the end.  Acceptance begins the planning, the eventual editing, and the endless promotion.  When I use the word endless, I'm not joking either.  Ask any writer carving our their niche in the world today and they'll agree - you have to promote and you have to keep it up.  You can't do it for a day or two and quit.   And, you can't overdo it until you alienate every potential reader out there.   Although I promote every day, I cringe when I open my email inbox and find six or more emails from one author who is promoting through multiple yahoo groups, all at once.  It's like a drive-by and these days I just delete them unread.  And yes, I've been guilty of it too in the past but we all learn as we go.   When the same author - and I'm not pointing fingers at anyone specific - shows up other places I frequent multiple times, it doesn't intrigue me in the slightest.  Enough is enough and too much is just, well, too damn much.

My late father always told me there is no perfect job and he was right.  I've had a few which came close - my years working in broadcast radio were pretty good most of the time and I love being an author. But it's far from perfect so I walked into it with my eyes wide open, without a lot of fantasies.

A few other things writers and their circle of people (friends, family, fans, neighbors) need to remember is that we are working.  Don't phone us througout the day to chat if it's our work time.  Please don't ask me to watch out for your parcel delivery or run your errand.  Don't drop by just to visit or invite me to brunches, card games, and Tupperware parties during the hours when I do the bulk of my work.   A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn't call someone at their day job, don't call them during their writing hours.   And if you call, don't be offended if I don't answer when I'm working.

My day begins early and ends later.  It's not yet six in the morning here but I've been up for an hour and a half, had three cups of coffee, a shower, checked my blogs, e-mail, social networking, and in ten minutes I'll switch gears and wake up my three kids for school.   After they head out, I'll get to work in earnest today and I won't be finished - not that I ever am - until long after dark falls.

I'm not kvetching though.  As I tell my kids often (they've learned not to say "it's not fair") life isn't meant to be a rose garden.  No one ever promised it would be easy or simple or without tangles.  Anything worth having or doing is worth the work (there's that four letter word again) necessary to gain it.

Work.  It's the four letter word no writer or author can ever accomplish anything of value without.

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