I Don't Wanna - On Writing For a Living
Writers write. That's the unfortunate truth, right? Writers actually sit down in front of their computers (preferably of the Apple persuasion) with their cafe au lait and their copy of Scrivener on the screen, and, then, lo and behold, they actually write. That's the hurdle. That's the starter's pistol you need in order to do this for a living. But here's the truth. I do write. I write a fair amount. But, a good amount of my time is spent staring out windows, reading crime novels, and playing with my daughter. Disconnected from the work at hand and playing Bejeweled for an hour (or three) is sometimes exactly what the brain needs. Something that stimulates the sections of your brain not designed specifically for, y'know, creating is a necessity.
Now here's what you don't want to hear. If you have a day job and you aspire to be a writer? Guess what? That 'non-writing screw off time' is what you call your job. That means every moment you're not there is precious writing time. When you're trying to break in or learn the ropes or whatever euphemism you like, the absolute only way to do it is to write. Writers write.
What you write doesn't have to be good. In fact, knowing that it's not good, being able to actually figure out that something is or isn't good is a great skill to have. I send my scripts to a stack of my friends before submitting them. But, rarely have I ever gotten a note back that I didn't, really, already know. All that process should be is confirmation of your fuck ups.
But that's a ways from here. Write. Write a lot.
Develop your voice, find out who you are as a writer, and stop just being that schmuck who says he's a writer, and actually become one. The way you do that? Write. Writers write. Writers write a lot because they are writers.
This is not brain surgery. If you think you're a writer and all you have to show for it is, well, that coffee, that Mac, and that copy of Scrivener, then you're not a writer. A writer has something to say and a particular way to say it that is singular and yet universal. That's the part where the craft subsides and the art can take over.
Because, again, the dirty little secret of almost any creative endeavor, is that we're building chairs over here. If you can't put four legs and a seat together, then, guess what? You're not capable of building a chair. But, if you take time, read some books on chair building, talk to your friends and mentors about building chairs, really just take some time to figure out what it means to be a chair builder, then guess what? You're STILL incapable of building a chair, you're just more capable of talking about building it.
No. Learn, observe, talk, take classes, all of that is great. But what's more important? BUILD THE FUCKING CHAIR.