My Attitude Toward Writing
I am not by any means someone who could consider writing their profession. Regardless, I treat writing as my job, even though I am not paid to do it.
This is going to be a bit of a rambling, laid-back post today.
Some say when you make a hobby you really love a job, it takes away the fun from that hobby because your mentality has shifted about the activity; it is now work, therefore leisure cannot accompany it. For the most part, I call balderdash on this. One should be able to feel an overwhelming sense of pride if they have made their favorite hobby in the world something they can profit from. It means you get to live your passion out every day without needing to make time for it from your work schedule. That stress is taken out of your life. It means you get to literally live your dream.
If I were to ever make writing my job, I would feel euphoric, because the way I write wouldn't change. The pace at which I write and revise wouldn't change (deadlines pending). My enjoyment of the craft wouldn't change. I would be doing the exact same thing, but I would just be making money off of it. And that's not only ideal, it's magical. If an individual can't treat their favorite hobby in this manner as a job, I don't think you have as much passion for the hobby as you think. If you really love your craft, you may have that feeling of "being burned out" a lot of people fear, but it's nothing you can't get over. We all have our slumps. But if you get 100% burned out on your favorite thing, it wasn't your favorite thing to begin with.
This is why I have made writing like a part time job alongside pursuing my MFA and working nearly full time. If I don't take my passion seriously, what will I have to show for it?
These are the steps I have taken in order to feel like my writing takes precedence over most everything else I do in my spare time:
I find like-minded peers and begin collaborative projects.
With most art forms, it is debilitating to participate in that art alone. One of the most inspiring things an artist can do is read a book, go to a museum, or go to an art-related event to see how other artists engage with their craft. With my writing, I found people I trust, and I offered to create art alongside them. This not only forces deadlines upon myself, it forces me to delve into writing more intensely, seeing it from the perspectives of different creatives. It also makes me write things I never would have because I have an external stimulus driving me in different directions.
I make deadlines.
In the workplace, you'll have deadlines to submit first drafts of your article. In school, you have deadlines for your final essay or workshop critiques. Going through the process isn't fun, it's tedious, it's time-consuming, it's exhausting. My calendar is laden with deadlines for my various writing pursuits. For this blog in particular, I have blogs drafts scheduled out a month in advanced—some of these drafts are just titles with no content yet! But seeing that list, having the reminders in my phone saying "Hey, your blog is posting in two hours. Be sure to proofread it (or start it) before it goes live" makes me feel that sense of urgency I need to push forward into creating something.
I don't look at analytics.
It's as simple as that. I know my blog isn't being read by hundreds of people, hell, there may not be a single reader. Despite this, I put the effort into them like I am receiving readers. I can't let numbers weigh me down from creating content. Maybe someone reads these, maybe someone doesn't. Regardless, I'll never know. I'll just keep writing the things I enjoy.
I create tangible goals.
I love New Year's Resolutions and reviewing yourself often to make sure what you do in your spare time aligns with completing your long term goals (at the end of the year, I'll make a few blog posts about this topic.) One of my resolutions this year, which I evaluate monthly, was to merely "Keep on writing". This branches into different projects every month which are tangible, such as "Reach 35 poems in personal collection" or "Finish workshopping and doing marginalia for poems for your two collaborative projects". If I don't achieve those goals in the month, they move to the next at the top of the list so they are visibly a higher priority. They are a constant reminder. They require my active engagement so I am always moving forward, never feeling like I don't know how to proceed.
I challenge myself with variety and topic.
I am primarily a poet (as you can tell by this website URL.) But here you are, reading a blog post. Why am I forcing myself to writing blogs? I think writers (and artists in general) should engage primarily with their favorite medium, but it is helpful and encouraged to dabble in other areas so you can keep ideas flowing and experiment. I never would have written about body piercings had I not forced myself to. I never would have written about my budgeting and get that article published if I didn't dare to be a bit different one afternoon. Just as a painter could be best at using acrylics, they could learn something about acrylics by practicing with charcoal. Their skills could be enhanced by a bit of diversion and open-mindedness.
I understand what I need to do to become more well-rounded, and I make those things priorities, too.
The biggest example of this is to become a great writer, you must become a great reader. I could write all of the writing goals I want—write this many poems, submit to this many journals, what have you. But, I cannot forget the other knowledge I can consume to aid in my quest to being a great writer. I need to read other literature, I need to research the publishing industry, I need to go to readings and events to see how work is displayed in the real world. To be part of an art, you can't ignore its many branching parts. A prolific chef doesn't just stay at home practicing their own recipes. They go to other restaurants and try different foods and cuisines. They read literature on the history of cooking. They know the art goes above just doing the thing.
Long story short: Writing is my job. I love that writing is my job, alongside the job I get paid to do (which is happily make coffee and sling beers on a bar.) This shift mentality has great increased my output as well as dedication to creating not just a lot of pieces, but good ones.
Thanks for reading. Cheers!