Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What to do when a friend asks if they should give up writing?

So I had lunch out yesterday, and the topic of conversation naturally turned to writing. My friend was feeling a little dispirited. First of all I need to point out that a lot of people seem to have the wrong idea about writing. Here are a few well known myths;

I love reading therefore I must be a great writer - alas no.

I want to work from home, pick my own hours. Any self employed person will happily point out that people are great at seeing the perks - it's only when you have tried it that you get the full story.

I want to be famous - there are easier ways to become famous. Try YouTube and make sure the clip involves you getting hurt with an animal.

You want to be rich - I know a lot of authors, most aren't driving and are forced to cycle - and that's with a publishing deal!

Writing is about writing. It’s about telling stories. That’s why you do it. Real writers write. They don't spend hours talking about their ideas. When the brain itch comes they need to get it down on paper. I push people to submit because I know so many talented people who spend three years on a manuscript and then stuff it under the bed because of lack of confidence.

My friend has got great ideas and talent. Is her work ready to send off this minute - no. It needs the dreaded editing pen. Could she improve - hell yes. But so could we all. Should she give up. I think no. But I also think she needs to be kind to herself. I'm pleased that currently, I'm now getting more hits than misses. This is only after a lot of years and one big change.

My children have got a little bit older. It sounds sexist and I may be wrong, but I think men can switch off easier. For women motherhood is full of traps, guilt, emotions and a large to do list. I'm writing this blog. My teenager and pre teen are asleep when once they were up at around 5 or 6 am jumping on my bed. I was tired all the time. Now they will wander down stairs in a haze and grab themselves a bowl of cereal. Best of all in the morning they no longer want to talk or watch CBBC. Maybe they will read a book or put the TV on. So I am able to write. They use to wake me up in the night, scream for my attention. I wrote one novel in snatches in Playzone and in the school car park. It had a good premise but the writing was interrupted and jumpy. It never got published, but just writing and completing it helped me progress as a writer.

So mothers of young children should you give up writing? No. But be kind to yourself. Be realistic. And most of all wait until September.

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