*Sequel post to ‘A Writer Needs a “Real” Job’ posted last fall.*
Jodi Picoult said during one interview that writer’s block isn’t real, only a sign that you have too much time on your hands: “If you have limited amount of time to write, you just sit down and do it. You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
Among the vast majority of writing myths, one says that you cannot have a day job if you want to be an author. You cannot do both at the same time. That mediocre job will suck all the motivation and inspiration out of you. As I’ve stated in another blog post, that mediocre job can serve as a pool of ideas where you go fishing five days a week. As for Picoult’s comment on writer’s block, having a job forces you to pin down a writing routine. Otherwise it’s easy to procrastinate, which happens to even the most passionate writers. For example, I have the bad habit of blogging in the last minute, which I’m thankfully breaking as I’m typing this.
And that’s for just my blog, which I consider to be a hobby, while writing short stories and finishing my novel is my “secondary job.”
The key to avoid procrastination – whether you’re currently working or not – is to make writing part of your daily routine. Bryan Hutchinson wrote an article on how to become a more prolific writer on positivewriter.com:
- Take note of the things you do consistently every day before and after work. Consider writing them down so you can become more conscious of them.
- Create a space of time within your current daily rituals for writing every day. Make sure it’s at a time of day that works best for you. I write best in the morning and other people write better at night. When do you write best?
- Commit: It’s important to commit to writing at the same time every day so that it becomes a natural, automatic part of your day, regardless of whether you feel inspired or motivated. It’s believed that it takes 21 days (source) to create a habit, so hang in there and keep going. In my personal experience it takes up to 60 to 90 days, but I’m stubborn like that.
Another cool thing to do if you’re finding yourself unproductive, it helps to read about successful writers’ daily routines. Perhaps there’s something that looks appealing. It all comes down to figuring out what works for you. Like E.B. White, the famous author of Charlotte’s Web, once said: “A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”