Today’s guest post comes from Ruth over at Bullish Ink, who delivers some stern truths about the passion and drive the writing life requires.
Do you want to be a writer or do you just want to write?
Here’s the difference. Those who want to be a writer experience the Writing Life as an unquenchable fever in their soul and those who want to write experience it as a casual crush.
There’s no right or wrong answer. My objective here is to simply help us figure out what we want from the Writing Life. Do we want to dabble with it like a casual date or become its devoted disciple?
Truth is, the Writing Life doesn’t want to be penciled in. It wants to screw up your schedule without any resistance on your part. It demands your slavish devotion. You want to be a writer? Cancel your gym membership. Give up your favorite tv show. Beg out of dinner dates.
Committing To The Writing Life
Think of it this way – would you only spend fifteen minutes a day with your best friend or significant other? What kind of relationship would that produce?
Imagine saying to your spouse: “Well, I’d love to pick up milk on the way home, pudding-pie, but you’ve used up your allotted time today. How about I pencil it in for tomorrow – time permitting?”
If you continually tell your Writing Life that you can only afford it fifteen minutes a day, the relationship will self-destruct. It isn’t going to wait around forever for you to get your life figured out. It’s going to pack its bags and hit the road.
Once the two of you split the sheets, reconciliation is no peach. Forget about open arms, tender reunions and mind-blowing make-up sex. It isn’t that easy to rekindle the romance.
I’m speaking from experience here. The Writing Life and I split up a few years back. Got pretty messy. Things were said. Feelings hurt. Vows made. Just about the darkest period of my history.
And trust me, reuniting was no picnic. Took a couple years to get our mojo back. I had to put in a lot of late nights and write hundreds of thousands of words of crap before we were able to effectively communicate again.
And that’s when I realized that I didn’t just want to write, I wanted to be a writer. I was smitten with the written word. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write.
Making Time For The Writing Life
The paradox is this: we are so damn intent on figuring how to fit the Writing Life into our day-planners and warping out because there just aren’t enough hours in the day, when the simple truth is that we make time for our passion without giving it a second thought.
See, if we are passionate about writing, if our hearts pump ink and the scent of paper causes us to tremble, we will make room for writing with nary a thought to logistics.
Remember what those first few weeks of ‘being in love’ feel like? You don’t need to eat. You don’t need to sleep. You have all the time in the world to bask in the presence of your lover because you make the time.
Your calendar miraculously clears itself. Duty and obligation and busy-work fall away – unmissed, rendered unnecessary and no longer important.
That’s what it’s like to be a writer. You instantaneously and unapologetically give up activities and interests that previously defined your entire existence so that you are free to pursue your passion: the Writing Life.
Just as creative talent makes room for itself, passion makes time to pursue the lover.
The Bottom Line
So, is writing something you plug into the weekday schedule like the gym and the dentist?
Or is it something that causes you to forget to buy groceries, change your socks and flounder for your child’s name?
Are you dabbling with writing or are you its devoted disciple?
Until you move the Writing Life from your To Do List to your Can’t Wait To Do List, you won’t be able to bridge the gap between wanting to be and being.
Ruth is a forty-something administrative professional who enjoys fast-paced stories, vintage cars and southern rock. A reader by birth, paper-pusher by trade and novelist by design, storytelling is her passion. You can read more of her take on the writing life at www.bullishink.com or swing by the frugal living blog she shares with her sis at www.shoestringwithstyle.com.