(This is the first installment in my “Inspiration Grab Bag” series, where I’ll share some of the advice I’ve stumbled upon in my quest to undo the creative atrophy that occurred during 15 years of medical training and being a doctor.)
Jim Butcher, author of my favorite paranormal detective series “The Dresden Files”, says about writing:
“Writing is a LOT of work. Breaking into the industry is a torment worthy of the fifth or sixth circle of Hell. Face that. Expect it. Deal with it. It’s going to be difficult.
“It’s difficult from the get go … There’s no guarantee that you’ll ever get in …. You’ll probably have more than one person say or do something that crushes your heart like an empty Coke can. You’ll probably, at some point, want to quit rather than keep facing that uncertainty
“In fact, the vast majority of aspiring authors (somewhere over 99 percent) self-terminate their dream. They quit. Think about this for a minute, because it’s important:
“THEY KILL THEIR OWN DREAM.”
This is one of the first things that made me think: Wait I minute, I used to dream about being a writer. What happened to that?
Oh yeah. I gave it up in college, because all those English classes involved writing papers, which involved (for me), staying up all night to finish them before the deadline. Then I had to face the inevitably personal and negative feedback that resulted from such work habits.
Biology, on the other hand…was easy. I could stop studying at midnight, get a good night’s sleep, and still do fairly well.
Ultimately, that choice landed me in medical school (after three years working as a technical writer, ironically).
It turns out, in medical school, and as a doctor, you have to stay up all night a lot.
Jim Butcher’s, and many other wise and experienced authors’, solution is simple and elegant, even if it does lead to lower back pain: BUTT IN CHAIR (BIC) time. Nothing can replace it, unless you can write standing up, or sitting on a yoga ball. Just. Keep. Writing.
And be grateful that most aspiring authors do kill their own dream, because it thins out the competition.