Step One: Beg, Borrow, Steal
You: “I’ve always wanted to write a book.”
Me: “And you haven’t because ….?”
If your answer to me sounds anything like I have no time or Everyone needs me or I’m so busy beheading these damn squirrels, I will put you in a headlock. BUT I’ll do it with love–probably I’ll even give you a little cheek-to-boobie time (everyone likes that)–because I feel your pain. Writing does require time, that can’t be argued. Words don’t fly directly from your third eye into the computer unless you’ve sacrificed eight drunk moose to Belphegor, demon Lord of–never mind. You didn’t hear that. That’s not my secret, Crazyass Canadian Chick process at all. Nope.
Yes, writing takes time, but maybe not as much as you think. If you’ve been putting it off, thinking you shouldn’t bother because you don’t have the requisite hours and hours of uninterrupted desk time (or time to wander through a wildflower-strewn meadow, or a cobblestone street in Paris, or wherever you think “real” writers create) maybe you need to make a deal with your muse: show up for a half hour every day. That’s not ideal, granted, but it’s certainly better than mooning over your unfinished scrap of an idea and diddling your bottom lip like a ninny. Let’s be honest: no one has time. Time doesn’t appear magically. No one is going to deliver time to you in a pretty package with a big, purple bow. If they do, don’t take it, it’s a trick. You can carve out time, but it’s going to hurt a little.
Steal a bit from your regular TV-time. Beg off from one social gathering. Put your video game on pause–don’t worry, you’ll still suck when you get back to it, unless you’re me; I melt face. Enlist the help of a spouse (Hey, think you could manage to keep your son off the roof for thirty minutes or so? Kthnxawesome) or family member, then remember to thank them in the front of your book where you beg forgiveness for being an antisocial dickbin. (<–is that even a thing? Where are my pills …)
I’m going to propose something that usually makes people slapchop me in the throat; my proposal is a dreadful, butt-puckering prospect, but I’m not saying it to hurt you. Ready? Why are you already making a fist? *glares* Set your alarm … *deftly dodges first punch* … an hour earlier … and get your hairy ass (apologies if you wax yours, how am I supposed to know unless you send me pictures? Jeez)…out of bed…and write. Okay, get the horrified shudder out of the way. Nice. Now go ahead and say it:
You: “Eeeeuuuw. I can’t! I just can’t! I. Need. My. Sleep.”
Me: “Which do you want more? Sleep? Or a finished novel?”
I cannot name one writer-type friend who gets both sleep AND writing done. Most of them have day jobs, and families, and friends, and lives. We squeeze our writing in while other people sleep. That might be why we’re prone to acting like nutbars. You can keep your sleep and sanity, and write “some other time”, whenever that might come. That’s totally your call, I can’t make it for you. I can tell you that since I started getting up at 4 A.M. every day for work, my output has skyrocketed, and not only when I’m ass-to-chair. My brain is churning by 4:05 A.M.–pre-tea, even–and I’m usually doing the ole “writing in the head” business while I cruise the empty streets (sounds like I’m up to something nefarious. Kinda wish I was.) While I’m at work, I’m brainstorming about what I’m going to write next. By the time I’m home, my muse has his hip propped on my desk and is smoking one of my Cuban cigars, demanding to know where I’ve been.
<’member this guy? He’s a mean, mean muse. He clobbers me with stuff>
Step 2: Change Your Self-Portrait
In addition to time, I have come to understand that writing a book requires perseverence, determination, organization, and faith. That last one’s kind of a deal-breaker.
When do you start calling yourself a “writer”? Some people do it before they’ve written a word. Some people feel weird about calling themselves a writer, even after they’ve churned out tons. My mum called me a writer early. My English teacher, Mr. Schulman, called me a writer (in a “sorry to inform you, but”-style letter to my folks) when I was in high school. I think I started calling myself a writer after I had a pile of papers on my desk that, when strung together, could almost make sense as a story.
If you don’t think of yourself as a writer, and have faith that you can learn the skills needed to go forward, then you won’t give yourself permission to skip that football game or staff meeting (*cough* I never miss those accidentally on purpose to write, never)or movie night out, or family function, in order to devote a mind-melting session to your muse. Other people won’t understand, other people won’t have faith in you, until you do. If your book is a hobby to you, people will take your lead and also see it as your hobby. If you’re serious about it, then fix the way you see yourself. You’re not someone who likes the idea of writing a book anymore … you’re WRITING a book, and therefore you are a WRITER, and when you finish it, you’ll be The Book’s AUTHOR *cue sexy music, cuz you’ve earned it*.
No more stalling. Time to kick your own ass, my friend. Beg, borrow, steal the time. See yourself as a writer, and your project as important.
And consider sending me that picture of your ass, so I know whether or not to keep callin’ it hairy.
Whaaaaaaat? *cheeky grin*
(editor’s note: AJ Aalto is inspired today by a fortune cookie slip which reads “Luck is the by-product of busting your fanny”, a sentiment she whole-heartedly agrees with. She’s also not joking about wanting to see your ass. Not even kidding a little bit.)