If you could hear the voice that I’m writing in today, you’d hear I was whispering. I’m whispering because I want you to lean close, like we’re sitting side by side on a couch so well-worn that our shoulders tilt until they meet. I’m whispering because sometimes whispers are louder than shouts.
So here me when I say – you have to take your work seriously before anyone else will.
When we don’t set aside time to write – or when we do but then give up that time most days because of whatever – we are telling the people around us that we aren’t really serious about our work, and if we don’t take our work seriously, why should anyone else?
And if we don’t take our writing time seriously, we can’t get upset with the people we love when they don’t either. That’s just not fair.
But I know, I know that this is hard. I know it’s hard to say no sometimes to going out with friends. I know it’s hard to ask your partner to watch the kids, to pay someone to come sit with them an hour, or to take your friend up on the offer to give you a break on Thursday mornings. I know it’s hard when you’ve worked all day, and you just want to curl up on the recliner and watch Steve Harvey tease those feuding families. I know it’s hard when it feels like you aren’t making any headway in this writing life and keep getting rejection after rejection.
Believe me, I know.
I know this, too, though. When you begin to value your writing time and your writing itself, when you take your schedule and your words seriously, when you begin to see it as WORK – not a hobby, not a dream, not a pastime – but real, true, meaningful work, you then don’t find it as hard. You really don’t.
When you honor the words, respond to the story, carve the shape of a character, or sketch an image in stanza, oh, the work gives back far more than it takes. It gives you relief from the burden of “not writing,” and it gives you the joy of creation – and creative joy is not a weightless thing.
So this week, tell yourself this over and over again. My writing is my work. My writing is my work. My writing is my work.
AND tell those voices that say, “But you don’t get paid,” “But your kids need you,” “But it won’t hurt to take tonight off,” to shut up and keep working. You may not get paid, and your kids do surely need you, and yeah, you might be okay to take tonight off. . . but you get paid in the practice, and your kids need to see you commit to things that are just for you, and if you take tonight off, then tomorrow, it’ll be easier to take the night off, too.
So commit, my friends – without burden or guilt – just commit and find the joy in that place. Make a schedule. Stick to it for one week, then two, and soon it will be normal. . . just like it’s normal for someone to go to work at an office at a certain time. It’s hard at first, but it does get easier.
I don’t know what the right writing schedule is for you. I don’t know what taking your writing seriously looks like in your life at this moment, but I know you need to do it . . . now. Because if you feel like you want to write, I mean really feel it in the core of who you are – that you have a story to tell that matters – then you need to tell it because – and I speak from experience here – the weight of the not-telling will taint everything else in your life with guilt until you honor it.
So what are you going to do this week to take your writing more seriously? Commit to one thing and then share it below.