So you’ve decided you want to be a writer, and you can already envisage how your life will be once you have successfully made it. But keep in mind the life of the average writer is to be a ‘jobbing author’ much like that of the jobbing actor, you measure your success by the mere fact you’re getting work (read published) not by how much money you make.
But whatever drives you on, remember the path of ambition is paved with good ideas and promise.
Working to achieve these ambitions, is something different altogether. It’s the path filled with challenges and even the occasional set back along the way.
Here are some of the problems and ruts you can expect to run into;
Yourself: First a cliche riddled with truth, you are capable of being your own worst enemy. It starts with you liking the idea of writing more than the reality. The reading, the learning, and the editing process required can all prove to be too much like, well… work. And all of this before you have had your first wave of panicked doubt and fears about failing, and/or wasting your time.
Friends, family and/or partner: Sure some of them will read your stuff, even give you the thumbs up. Patting you on the back, telling you what they think you want to hear. However, when you persist in producing new pieces to share, they will become hesitant and dismissive, telling you that getting published is next to impossible, that there is no guarantee you’ll make any money. But it’s more than this, mostly they just won’t care and anything you send/give to them will end up lost (likely trashed barely read if at all). And when you tell them of the various problems you’ve encountered while working they will give you their best sourpuss face and wait impatiently for you to finish so they can change the subject leaving you feeling hurt and dejected. And you partner? Often they too like the idea more than the reality, especially when that reality changes the way you both live (meaning when and if dinner get cooked, etc).
Amongst these land mines there is also the conspiracy of life: The day job that saps you of any energy, the bills that keep on taking, the loveable kids, the cute pets and the catch-me-if-you-can chores that never stop, not to mention any and all unexpected and unplanned events/situations or persons crashing into your already heavily scheduled life.
All of these can conspire to break down your determination, dampening any enthusiasm you have, leading you to reconsider or stop altogether.
Take a deep breath and remember that the writing life has never been an easy choice. Other writers have even satirised these experiences, consider for example George Orwell’s ‘Keep the Aspidistra Flying’.
Therefore it is important to be absolutely honest with yourself about what you really want and what this may mean. About what you will need to do in order to achieve it, as well as knowing how to ask for the support you need. Remember too, this will be an ongoing process and there will be times when you will need to revisit these questions, weighing up your experiences thus far against your expectations, asking what has changed, and what needs changing.
In truth, the examples above are some of the worst case scenarios and some of us may be surprised to discover just how supportive our friends/family and/or partner are. Not to mention how good you are at adjusting, understanding what’s required and making the necessary changes as you develop from novice to skilled writer.
Either way, whether you are supported or not, nothing is impossible. It just for some of us, achieving our goals can take longer. However it happens, please try not to judge yourself and others too harshly.