It seems like every year I learn a little more about what it takes to be a successful writer. You’d think they could put all this information into a book somewhere, and for all I know, maybe someone already has. But for me some things have to be learned gradually. And some things, no matter how often you explain them to me, I have to learn for myself.
I remember how badly this phenomenon used to frustrate my dad. I come home and share some bit of newly minted wisdom with him, and he’d say, “I’ve been telling you that for your whole life.” And he had. But on some level hearing it wasn’t enough. I needed to figure it out for myself.
That last bit was a tangent which I’m leaving in, because frankly I love talking about my dad. In fact, in most of my fiction you’ll find a father figure that make some tremendous impact on the story for either good or bad, or even through his absence. I think this is a reflection of the impact I feel my dad has had on my life. And now we’re in another tangent. So, back to the point.
What I wanted to talk about was the realization I had just a few weeks ago, that if I wanted to succeed as a writer, I was going to have to start treating my writing like a second job. Now please don’t read that and think I’m trying to remove all of the fun from writing, because I’m not. I write because I love it, and I believe I always will. But sometimes I don’t feel like I love it. Some times I’ll sit in front of a blank screen, and say, “Nope, not happening today,” and in the past I would get up and walk away. But you can’t get up and walk away from your job.
Kristen Lamb said something fantastic in her recent blog about reaching your potential in the new year. She said, “Feelings, LIE.”
There are times when all of us are not going to feel like writing. The solution?
Give yourself a small goal to accomplish. Say, “I’ll just write two hundred words, and if things don’t get better by then, then I’ll come back to it later.” More often than not, by the time two hundred words have planted themselves on the page, you’ll feel the creative juices flowing a little better.
But today’s blog isn’t really about writing at all. See, I’ve been getting all gung-ho about this new philosophy of writing: getting up far too early in the morning, spending hours writing blog posts, and overall just getting serious about the whole thing. So yesterday, when my wife asked if I wanted to go and do something with her, there was a split second where I thought, “But I have so much work to do on my writing.”
Except then it hit me. Writing isn’t the only job I have to do. I also have to be a husband. And just like writing, sometimes I don’t feel like being a husband. Sometimes I’ll stop and think, “What happened to that gurgley sweet feeling I had back when we were dating? Am I doing something wrong? Did I make a mistake?”
But love is like writing. It may be fueled by passion, but it is perfected by hard work. And just because I may not feel the passion every moment of the day doesn’t give me an excuse to stop working to be a better husband. The relationship between me and my wife needs care and attention and most of all, time if it’s going to be successful.
Because feelings do lie. And marriage, just like writing, is a job. If I don’t feel like being married today, it shouldn’t matter. Because this is my job. And at it’s very foundation, love isn’t just a feeling. It’s a commitment.
So if I’m tired or cranky and just don’t feel like doing the work to make it work, I’m going to remind myself that this is my commitment. This is my job.
Otherwise I’ll just end up being the marital version of a bad fan fiction writer.