Monday, March 30, 2009

The old work-life-writing balancing act

As someone who spent years trying to juggle a full-time job, pursuing my dream of being a writer and having something at least approximating 'a life' I can sympathise with David Bishop.

On his blog today he talks about struggling with balancing his new work commitments (he's involved in setting up a Creative Writing MA at Edinburgh Napier University) whilst trying to make it as a screenwriter.

David's is a blog I follow regularly, partly out of a general nosiness, seeing what other writers are up to, and partly because he talks a lot of sense about the whole writing thing in general.

His post concludes thus:

More than ever, I have to be disciplined about carving out space for writing - and space for living. I refuse to let my part-time job become an excuse for not pursuing my goals, objective, ambitions or dreams as a writer.

If that means writing from 6.30 every morning for two hours before going to work, so be it. If that means coming home and writing for another three hours in the evening after work, so be it. If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. Whining about too much work won't get the job done. Nobody owes you a living as a writer, the world isn't holding its breath for your stories. You have to make time.

You have to write with all the heart and talent and craft and brains that you've got. You have to push yourself to do better, challenge yourself to come up with a better line of dialogue, a better scene, a better story. You've got to make things happen, take responsibility for your successes and failures, validate yourself through the work you do. Don't expect competitions or prizes or acclaim to make you a complete person as a writer.

It's all on you just like it's all on me - so make it happen. Onwards!

Inspired by David's words I pulled my finger out today and finished the first draft of my latest project - which has seen me burning the candle at both ends, as well as the midnight oil! Now all I have to do is go through all 133,000 odd words of it and turn it into nearer 90,000 words of polished prose before submitting it to my editor. But at least the first draft is finished, and it feels good.

Oh, and that whole work-life balance thing? I gave up my full-time job to help achieve, but when I do actually achieve it, I'll let you know. ;-)

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