Your Biggest Challenge as a Writer - and What To Do About It, Part 3


In the last couple of articles, we’ve seen how the writer’s biggest challenge, by survey result, has to do with time and procrastination, and that this really isn’t going to be solved completely by those short-term remedies which enable a writer to eke out a few minutes here and there to get something onto the page (though those kinds of things help to relieve pressure, like first aid).

What’s needed to defeat procrastination and time issues completely is an almost total reorientation around writing: if you really want to conquer these large issues, large changes are needed.

But it’s all very well me using myself as an example when my circumstances might be fairly unique. What are the broad steps that any writer should look at taking if he or she wants to build a life around their work, rather than the other way round?

Here are some suggestions. Not all of these will be practicable for all people, but implementing even a few of them should go a long way towards the goal of

having a writing-centred life.

1. Recognise That You Have A Purpose.

This might sound a little esoteric at first, but it is perhaps the most concrete prerequisite you need to make any of this work. You have to know or feel or divine in some way that writing is what you are ‘supposed’ to be doing. This is irrespective of whether or not you are any good at it, you understand: even if your existing writing is considered rubbish by you or anyone else, if you feel that writing is somehow central to you, the rest of these steps have a chance of working.

If writing is just a pleasant hobby or something that you wonder if you can make some easy money at, then you will not be ‘anchored’ enough to carry out the rest of the plan - Life will come along and brush aside any further actions you might try to take. If you discern, though, that a writer is what you are Meant To Be, things will eventually align themselves around that - if you persist.

2. Don’t Dream: Plan

You might have already spent considerable time daydreaming what it would be like if you could write full time. There’s nothing wrong with daydreaming, but the thing to do is to transform these idle dreams into plans.

Work out how long you need to transform your life so that you can concentrate on writing. If you look at this realistically, you’re probably going to need five years at least. It took me two years to get reorientated from being a management consultant in London to a full-time English Literature teacher in the countryside; then it took a further ten years to move from that position to my current position of full-time writer. You don’t have to take ten years - I made some fundamental mistakes along the way which added time into the equation. Without the mistakes, I estimate that it would have taken me five years in total to make the transition to a writing-centred life.

It might take less for you because you might not be so embedded in a life far removed from that of a full-time writer, like I was.