The problem is you have to actually DO it

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing lately. I do it for a living — or should I say “living”, but more on that later — so it shouldn’t come as a shock. But it’s the eve of the Third annual Wordcount Blogathon which will require me to write every single day. Here’s where the thinking part comes in: I actually blog nightly. I lay down, turn off the lights and think mightily clever things to type onto these blank computer screens. Then I go to sleep, wake up, and the world comes at me. By the time I think I’ll sit down and do the writing, the day is nearly done and what was once clever in my head is a memory as hazy as that dream I had about Nathan Fillion, dammit. On both counts.

About once a year, I reread Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird, a book so amazingly inspirational that every time I put it down at 2 a.m., I’m sure I’m going to get up and write a novel. See above for what happens next.

The blogathon is a way to make me actually sit down and do the writing. My friend the Nerd, from one of the absolute best travel blogs (heck, anything blogs) on the web, Nerd’s Eye View, tells me that when you start blogging regularly, it becomes a habit that’s increasingly hard to break. I’ve known said Nerd since we were like, five, so I’m hoping she’s not lying. If she is, there’s no pie for her when the apples come in this fall. I may even stop leaving snarky comments on her blog posts and replying wittily to her tweets.

As I said, I try to make a living at writing. I’ve been doing this and only this for money since 1984. You can click over to the portfolio page and see some of what I’ve done. Then hire me. Because the state of paid gigs in publishing is dismal. My freelancing friends, mostly from the outstanding group Freelance Success (FLX to insiders) — and allow me to say that if you are a working freelancer, this is a group you should join for the peer support, access to experts, classes, and variety of listservs — all write regularly about the death of magazines; how they pay less, in a less timely fashion, and under contracts that take away more and more of the writers’ rights. This is from one of my FLX friends on Facebook tonight:

Umm…hey client who had promised to send consistent work week after week that hasn’t emailed me back in 2. If you’re not going to send work, how about you just PAY YOUR BILL. I know you have an iPhone, therefore know you check your email everywhere, your lack of response is making me angry

It’s a hard life out there for us.

Some magazines will endure, but getting into them requires fame or a popular published book. There are exceptions, but those magazines, like O, are probably out of my league. I have one regular client that does professional newsletters for the legal and medical professions, and I write the occasional piece for a custom publisher. The rest is just occasional piecework. So I’m going to reach out to a new world. I purchased an eBook by fellow writer and FLXer The Urban Muse Susan Johnston, another FLX colleague. The Urban Muse Guide to Online Writing Markets is chock full of advice — some of which is old for someone who’s been doing this for as long as I have. But the best part is the links to bunches of paying — well-paying — online markets. And the book comes with a promise to update info, like editorial contacts, writer’s guideline links, and pay rates. If you’re thinking of leaving the depressing print world, I’d recommend you pick this book up. It’s well worth the price. And if you’re a professional writer, it’s tax deductible!

So tomorrow, May 1, is a new day, a new month. I’m going to spend the day when much of the world is celebrating workers with a day off actually typing the words in my head on the screen. They may not be the ones that I write tonight as I close my eyes and drift into some dream of Kyle Chandler or Matthew Morrison (when I think of cradle robbing). But I’ll be getting it down on screen.

8 thoughts on “The problem is you have to actually DO it

  1. Your post made me sad. It’s devastating that the creativity of so many writers is not being rewarded monetarily, allowing them to live from their art. I’m a writer, too, but gave up selling articles several years ago. Now I run a green B&B and am successful at it. Still, I want to write. I want to be successful at writing. I have discovered blogging to be a great outlet for my own creativity. I hope you will find new markets in Susan’s book. I also hope you will post often during the Blogathon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>