As part of my participation in My 500 words, I am posting what I write each day.
It was probably about 10 years ago. As I sat at my computer one afternoon, trying to write, I shooed my kids away, telling them that if they ever wanted something better, they would leave me alone and let me write. I don’t know which job I was working at the time, it may have been the construction job which paid higher than anything I’ve ever had. But whatever it was, I had notions in my head that it was not paying enough, it was dead-end and I hated it to the point that the only way out was to try to make a living at writing something.
I have since repented from those absurd notions. I have learned that even successful, published authors don’t usually earn enough from their writing to get by, especially if they have a family. I have also learned that good writing takes years of practice. I may have had a decent story idea back then, but my writing skills were unrefined. In the past decade I’ve studied the craft and practiced my writing, but I’m still just an amateur.
Another notion I needed to repent from was that if I wanted to write, I could do it on a weekday afternoon. I had young children in the house. How realistic is it to expect them to leave daddy alone so he can try to do not just a little writing, but make a living at it? No, when I became serious about writing, I needed a few lifestyle changes. I had to recover from my unhealthy habits regarding the internet and be able to open a word document and just write. For this, I bought a cheap, used laptop that had no internet. It was a good start. But then I had to set aside time to write. I took my laptop to coffee shops a lot and wrote at home some evenings. It took a few years, but I completed a first draft of a novel.
But as I grew to love writing more, I needed to make it more a part of my life. So I started getting up early. This morning I got up at 6 to complete today’s 500 word challenge. The prompt was to set a goal for this 31 day challenge. But to do that, I felt I needed to go back and consider what the goal of my writing is.
I write because I love to write. But do I really hope to make a living at it, or even earn a little money? Why am I getting out of bed at 6 if it’s not to better my life? I’m not at all sure of the answer. Sure, it would be cool to be a published author and I can set a goal on doing the best I can to achieve that. But doing my best is as far as I can go. So what is my goal?
My goal is to become a better writer. I will never be so good that there won’t be room for great improvement. And as long as I love writing, I will continue to pursue this goal.
For now, my short term goals are 500 words a day. Next month, it will be 50,000 words in a month, which is just under 1700 words a day. And the month following that, it’s to finish the next draft of Sidewinder by the end of February. More on Sidewinder later this month. But there is an observable and measurable goal, and I just told the world. There’s no turning back now.