Imagine that you come home from a long, stressful day of work, and you walk inside of your house to find that you’re in The Twilight Zone. Your vision blurs, you lose your balance, and you end up in a long hallway lined with doors. The hallway seems to go on forever, and when you try one of the doors it opens up to a large 60″ television, an assortment of game systems–with games–and the cushiest seat known to man. Sounds awesome, right? The next door has a new PC, fast internet, and your Facebook profile is beckoning you to hop on and engage with friends and family. You close the door fast (that Facebook crack rock is mean!), now understanding that the doors all lead to comfortable, fun things, but you want to know what’s at the end of the hall.
As you start down the hall peeking into this door and that–ooh, one of them has a breakfast buffet!–you begin to see little letters etched into the walls between the doors. When you pull the letters together they form a word, and when you pull several together the words become a page. “Get to the end and you will have the Great American Novel” a voice echoes above you. It is what you have always wanted to do–write something wonderful–but who wants to spend all that time arranging letters? There is so much life to live, so many games to play, and rest to be had. How could you get to the end of the hall with all that temptation? How long will it take you? Would you even finish, or would you post up at the breakfast buffet for bottomless pancakes? No judgment, you know yourself better than I do.
The Similarities in Writing and Entrepreneurship
Writing a lengthy tome reminds me a whole helluva lot like the life of an entrepreneur. It’s a lonely journey, you miss out on the rooms full of fun that your friends are all playing in, and you are looked at as some sort of freak. Did I mention that it was lonely? Let’s face it, writing does not involve a few friends around the table bouncing ideas off of one another and taking turns typing; it is normally you, in a quiet place somewhere, fighting the urge to stop while you desperately eject the awesome scene and situation that is playing out inside your head. The fabled muse, whose sexy elusiveness forces you to bow to her will whenever she does show up.
When you finish you want the world to not only read, but appreciate your story, appreciate your genius, and tell you “please sir, can I have some more?”
You are celebrated for finishing 100,000+ words, by people that acknowledge the difficulty, but you forget their kind words when you run into a snobby, elitist, veteran who has run that endless hallway 100 times over, and knows it inside and out. He says: “who cares that you’ve managed to run that hall despite having a demanding family and a job that pushes overtime! YOUR WRITING STINKS! DO IT OVER! GET BETTER!” At this point your tired, worn-through, broken body (that only stayed upright because of the ballooned ego that your friends and family have helped expand) is thrown down and stomped on. The elitists don’t want you in their club, you have to make your bones first! You have to take Carlo for a ride, tell Mike it was only business…you always liked him. Boom! What you gonna do, overworked writer boy/girl? Sink like they want you to, or get back to the start of that hallway and run it again?
Did I mention it was lonely?
I’m just being honest, as colorful and as all-over-the-place as this article seems. Most of your peers are nice, helpful (hell I didn’t have to write this), but there’s a whole lot of assholes with the “author” or “writer” title. Loneliness breeds trolls, it breeds sociopaths, it breeds a culture of exclusivity that will tell people not to buy your books, or discredit you as not only a writer but a human being, along with a whole lot of other mess. Do you know that a few authors have gone the way of suicide? Real talk. It isn’t the hallway that kills you, it’s the extra bullshit that comes along with it. The constant rejection, the bad reviews, the lack of sales… it gets to you. But, can you deal and keep writing? If it sounds like something that you can handle then you’re ready for it. Write, write, write, write, and write some more. Then read, read, read, improve your writing, get better at prose, and write some more.
But seriously though, busy people check it out…
You literally have to carve out a time of day to write. Discipline yourself to take it seriously, and bring the tools needed to get it done. Sticking to a plan allows me to write even though my days are bananas. When you do a lot you can no longer effectively wing it to accomplish your goals. You have to actively plan, put things in your calendar, and live and die by the demand of a planner or a to-do list. For novel writing you have a choice, you can wake up early and put the time in (any amount of time you can afford, it’s not a race), or you can go to the library or bookstore after work, put on headphones–with some white noise or something–and sit in the back and knock out a couple hundred words. That’s what I do… There is never an ideal time for me to just “write when I can” and if you are serious about finishing a story, like me, you will need to carve out time.
So if you’re a writer that wants to cross the finish line, try to make yourself a schedule. It’s what I did to get through my first run down the hall, and if I can do it, you can do it too. This isn’t to say that anyone can do it. There’s work involved and it’s more work than you can imagine. But, if you want to get your story out, to have the accomplishment, to start the journey, you must set aside the time. Don’t tell everyone that you “want” to do it, or you will “eventually” do it. Do it now! Run the hall, and when you get to the end, dust those elitist haters off, and run that bitch again. Good luck!See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.