Thursday, June 03, 2010

Are You Committed...or Should You Be?

In my last post, I mentioned time’s ability to change absolutely nothing…at least, not unless accompanied by some kind of effort or forward motion on our part. I now realize I left out an important component.


How committed are you to your writing career? Committed enough to get up at 5:30 in the morning to glean an hour or two before the kids or hubby get up? Committed enough to put down the how-tos and actually write? Committed enough to risk rejection by sending that writing to an editor? Committed enough to…

You get the idea.

For years, I didn’t have that level of commitment. It was far easier to work an eight-to-five I loathed than to risk my mortgage by gambling on my talent and self-discipline. Far easier to plop on the couch after work and turn on the TV “just for a few minutes.” Far easier to give in to exhaustion and hit the snooze button every morning. Far easier to go to lunch with coworkers (wet or otherwise) instead of spending the time researching markets or writing for them.

It wasn’t talent I was lacking. That sounds arrogant, but it’s not. Moderate talent combined with hard work and endurance can survive in the writing business. Dozens of published articles and books prove that (okay, just my opinion). It wasn’t self-discipline I lacked. Not completely, anyway. I grew up on a farm, and I’ve spent much of my life getting work done without supervision. No, I lacked commitment. Committing to my writing career felt like stepping off a ten-story cliff, and I wasn’t ready to do that.

In this week’s The Prosperous Writer newsletter, Christina Katz compared the writing life to a relationship. True, and more. For me, making marriage vows to my husband of almost eight years was the easier of the two commitments, even though I’d known my writing habit at least ten years longer. In a way, that’s understandable. Committing to another person only requires faith in them; committing to a career in writing takes faith in yourself. I’ve never been good at that.

Commitment takes courage. Commitment takes faith. And, once you’ve taken that ten-story leap, commitment takes the daily struggle to work through disappointment, to find points of compromise, to turn around and send that query out again instead of running back to the retreats where you used to find solace. Remember Jane Kirkpatrick’s definition of commitment as a banking term? “To make a deposit against which you can later draw.” Commitment means showing up, day after day, to put your pen to paper, fingers to keys, and an investment into your life.

So, before you can put the time into writing, you need to commit to your writing. Only you know how much of a commitment you can make. The level isn’t the same for everyone, because everyone’s dream is different. Without that promise, though, you never will find the time. Not consistently and not for long enough to matter. Until you commit, your writing is only a dream. And you can’t take that to the bank.

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