By Richard Jay Parker
I tweeted a comment yesterday about having to put a gun to my own head to get some writing done and it seemed to resonate with a lot of people. As a writer you have to be your own boss - a hard-nosed, humourless taskmaster that won't even give you the afternoon off when the sun's shining outside. One that most of us wouldn't like to have at our shoulder in an office environment. But at least you'll never have to worry about sexual harassment...unless you're really bored.
Nobody makes you write. Even if you have a deadline and bills to pay there's still nobody to watch over you when you're at the keyboard. There's a romantic image in movies I've seen with agent turning up at writer's home to massage shoulders and ego while they drag themselves to the desk but it doesn't have much to do with reality.
Fact is, unless you're an established best seller, you have to do a huge amount of solitary work to create an entity before it can involve others - readers, agent, publisher etc. Until then it's all down to your own faith and determination and nobody can crack the whip but you. It's all in your head for a large percentage of the time so you don't even have much to show yourself at the end of each day except for a few pages at a time.
Apparently a lot of people give up on writing their first novel around page 60. The initial enthusiasm has died, they're not even half way and all that stretches ahead is hard work. Who's there to make them finish?
With so many distractions, particularly for people who write at home, it's a small wonder any work gets finished.
Personally, I like to pinpoint a date on the calendar which I estimate to be the time I'll have a project finished. I'm always optimistic and have a secondary date which I know is probably more feasible but do everything I can to meet the first date. If I don't - it's always done by the second.
When you're tiring of trying to fill blank pages I also think it's a good idea to take a break and read a couple of chapters of a book that inspired you. It reminds you why the hell you're doing it in the first place. You can lose sight of that sometimes.
Any writers want to share how they stay on course? Or would that be another distraction?
Watch out - the boss is back from lunch the same time as me. He really doesn't trust me.
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