I am a writer – or I like to tell everyone that I am a writer. I sit down at my computer on a fairly regular basis and I pound out a few words. I make character folders and create story outlines. I attend writing workshops and conferences to talk with other writers and “maybe” writers. I check Amazon author ranks on a daily basis to see if other people think that I am a writer.
I do a lot of things that make me look like a writer and talk like a writer. And if it looks like a duck and talks like a duck . . .
Funny story, the other day, I had an image pop up on my Facebook page. It used that exact line but finished it different from anything I had heard before. “If it looks like a duck and talks like a duck then . . . you’re drunk. Ducks don’t talk.”
That struck me. I am doing a lot of things that I think I should be doing to show that I am a writer, but I am not WORKING like a writer.
Tips for Working Like a Writer
- Working writers will work. It is a job. If I want my writing to be my career then I have to treat it in the same way that I would a traditional job. I have to write every day – whether I feel like or am inspired to write. A working write produces words.
- Working writers have a set schedule. A traditional employee clocks in and clocks out. If I want my writing to be my employment then I have to treat the writing with the same diligence. I am using timers to focus my writing and word counts to measure my focus. A working writer needs to follow a schedule.
- Working writers must (and this is not expressed enough) MUST set deadlines. Traditional employers set deadlines because workers accomplish the tasks when they are told to accomplish those tasks. Working writers need the same focus and motivation to get the words down. Working writers need deadlines to direct the word flow.
- Working writers should be aiming for goals. If I want my writing to be more than words on paper then I have to know what I want them to become and then I have to be taking the actions that will move me in the direction of that vision. Working writers need to know where they are going if they are going to get there.
I recognized that the actions I had been taking were not those of a working writer, but more of a person that was hardly writing. I was on the edge or closing in on that direction, but I was not serious in my desire to pursue writing as a true career. It took a change in focus and a change in actions to begin pursuing the life of a working writer.