Your Biggest Challenge as a Writer - and What To Do About It, Part 4
If you’ve read the earlier articles in this series, you’ll know that the biggest barriers for writers, according to survey results, are Lack of Time and its companion Procrastination.
You’ll also know that to fully handle these barriers you will need to make significant changes to your lifestyle so that your writing takes centre stage and everything else fits in around it, rather than the other way round.
Then you need to write. You need to write copious amounts of unforgettable material, fiction which not only excites you but stands out from everything else that is out there.
All the excuses - ‘I don’t have the time/energy/self-discipline/organisational ability/stamina’ and so on, the kinds of things I read about every day on social media - all of those things need to take a back seat.
Writing needs to be in the driver’s seat (to use another metaphor).
You probably realise this.
It’s the determination to follow through on that realisation that you need now.
How do you get that?
Well, as in the famous Seal song, you have to ‘get a little crazy’.
You have to see outside the boxes which you’ve either created around yourself or which have been built around you by others. These are the boxes labelled ‘work’ and ‘income’ and ‘society’ and ‘this-is-what-I’m-supposed-to-do’ and perhaps a few other things.
For part of my journey, I went ‘off grid’ and lived for three years in a motorhome (RV for Americans) without any fixed address or ‘land base’. I highly recommend the experience if you have no family commitments (I had none at the time). Disappearing from society’s radar almost entirely helped me to see further and clearer than ever before.
One of the things that I saw was that I had no special talents - but neither had anyone else. The great writers and poets whom I admired, everyone whom I admired, had simply seen through, or escaped from, things tangible and intangible which had been holding them back. There were two ‘world wide webs’ it seemed to me: one to do with computer networks and the other to do with entangling the potential of human beings everywhere. (Sometimes, as in when we waste time on social media or streaming videos, one web becomes the other.)
Once you can unleash your innate creativity - even a little bit of it - you’ll begin to see a deeper truth: that no box can really be built around you without your permission, without your acquiescence in some way. Sure, circumstances might dictate that you tolerate a ‘box’ or two for a while - I’m thinking of when you are young and need the care and supervision of grown-ups, or if you are involved in school or taking a course or doing a job you dislike in order to save up some money or something like that. But tolerating restrictions knowingly for a period of time in order to accomplish a specific goal is one thing: losing sight of the goal and becoming part of someone else’s plans in perpetuity is another.
What level of desire or commitment will it take for you to bust out of your boxes and make some serious changes?
If you are sure that you are Meant To Be A Writer - really sure, 100% solid - you won’t necessarily need to ‘make a commitment’: the sense that something is wrong, that you are not where you are meant to be, that there are steps that you need to take, will live with you and feed on your quiet moments like an invisible and rather voracious pet. Going about your daily routines, trying to get ordinary things done, you will feel a perpetual discomfiture, a nagging dissatisfaction, a niggling unease. Sometimes you might put this down to ‘being a grown-up’; sometimes you might be able to suppress it altogether for a short period of time; but it will return, keeping you awake at night, whispering to you on the train or in the car, making you grumpy when you least expect it.
It’s the writer in you trying to get out.
Like the TARDIS in Doctor Who, you are bigger inside than out.
The universes that wrestle for space inside you are ineluctably striving to escape into the outside world, through any tiny keyhole of ‘spare time’ that they can find, any quietness, any opening that your boxed-in life presents. You can go on pushing them back, closing the door, sitting on them - or you can yield to the pressure and change your life.
Where do you start?