Hey Writer! What Are You Willing to Give Up?
By Adam Porter, @AtlasProWriter
Creative writing is work. But creative writing should be fun work. After all, if you do not enjoy what you are doing, your enthusiasm will eventually wane. Now, I’m not talking about the sort of “absence of joy” that comes when you are stuck in the middle of a particularly rough patch of writing, some prickly sticking point where the “creative” has flown and it’s all about the writing.
When you are writing for work, as most of you reading this blog either aspire to do or are already doing, then you understand what it means when creative writing has transitioned into creative working.
The absence of joy I’m talking about comes when you realize that there is nothing left in your life but work. You have set aside everything that once brought you joy in an effort to Just Get That Thing Finished.
Hey, I understand that compulsion. I do. I work from home … a home that I share with a 4-year-old and an “almost” two-year-old. Sometimes the only way to Get That Thing Finished is to literally lock myself in my office, pull on my headphones and tune out the world. But, there has never been a time when I have done that in which, eventually, I did not receive a quiet knock at the door.
My boys wanting to toss the ball or play outside. Or my littlest guy coming for a visit because he had been calling my name. “Da-da” was his first word and remains his favorite. But if “Da-da” starts ignoring his calls, or if “Daddy” decides now is not a good time to go play outside, then, at some point down the line, those requests will quit coming. Those knocks will cease.
What will it matter then, if I sell a million books…but have no one left to celebrate that success with? I know how it feels to be on the other side of that equation. What it feels like to face one more locked door. One more unreturned phone call. What it feels like to quit trying to matter.
I decided long ago that, whether I was a creative writer, a baker, a handyman or a magazine publisher (yes, I have been all of those things), that I would never allow my boys to experience what it felt like to give up trying to get my attention.
But I still have to work. I still have things to accomplish. Bills to pay. Goals to meet. Stories to write and clients to satisfy. I have to get these things done. So, I have to focus. I have to be creative, competent, compelling. I must connect. Communication is commerce and connectivity is my stock in trade.
In a recent post at Writer’s Digest, blogger Jessica Stawser quoted Austin Kleon who said: “Don’t throw any of yourself away…Keep all your passions.”
When excellence requires focus and completion requires time, this can be a tough order. Particularly for a Single Income Family. Where do you find the time? How many times have I asked myself that question? How many times have you?
No matter how many times I have asked it, “Where can I find the time” has always been the wrong question. The true question is: What am I willing to give up?
It is in answering this question that you find your true passions. It is in answering this question that you realize your priorities. And it is in answering this question that you find out who you really are. It is those things we are not willing to give up that we can find time for. That we will make time for.
I am a writer. I have deadlines. Thankfully, I have lots of them. But I am also a “Daddy.” And I think I hear a quiet knock at my office door.