Ok, so here’s the thing: I’m lousy at being a writer.
Not in the sense that my writing is bad. I mean, I’m no Stephen King, but I like to think that the writing itself is pretty ok to very ok. No, I’m terrible at being a writer in the sense that I don’t always have the discipline or take the time to…what’s the word? Oh yeah: write.
I’m sure you’ve noticed. Weeks without a new blog entry. Unacceptable for anyone who thinks of himself as a blogger. I was at my family’s Christmas celebration and my grandmother asked me how my writing was going. I think I just made a lot of noncommittal hedging noises. None of this is new information to you, let alone me. I’ve had two (very) mildly successful blogs before, both of which are now defunct because I failed to update them regularly. This inspiration comes courtesy of my brothers Jake and Brad, and my favorite writer, David Wong:
If I’m going to call myself a writer, then I have to write. That’s all there is to it.
Recently, my brother Jake began blogging to chronicle his adventure in healthy eating. A 30 day run, with a highly ambitious one blog entry per day. Well, he succeeded (both in the writing goal and the weight loss). I’m also very pleased he’s decided to keep his blog up, even though his diet experiment is over. Jake is this hot shot math guy (no sarcasm there–he really is–utterly brilliant) and just a seriously interesting dude. You should definitely check out Inspired By Random.
Then there’s my other brother (very literally a brother from another mother) who has also started a blog. Brad is sharp, geeky (if you know me, then you know I mean that as a compliment), and able to utterly obsess about a single topic until he knows it back to front. He’s a lot like I was when I was his age. Brad is fourteen, by the way, and is a more dedicated writer than I am. Head on over to My Gray Matter and give him a read.
I just read an article by David Wong that is, in short, about how to stop whining and actually freaking do something. Spoiler alert: step one is to stop whining. Want to guess about step two? I’d like to be able to look back on reading it and say that it changed my life. In truth, time will tell. But something has to give.
The title of this entry comes from Alec Baldwin’s speech in Glengarry Glen Ross. There’s a Youtube video of it embedded in the Cracked article, and I recommend giving it a watch. Not at work. And not near anyone who’s offended by profanity. I’ll spare you the bleeped out highlights and just let you consult the video.
So on this, the last weekend of 2012, I’m thinking ahead to 2013 and wondering what it will look like. One thing I’m certain of, and in this I really need to diverge from my usual pattern of “epiphanies” and “revelations” and all the other trite, clichéd bullshit I tend to slip into: I am either going to write, or I’m going to stop calling myself a writer. That’s it. I don’t get to have it both ways.
I know myself well enough to know that if I don’t have a solid plan of attack, then this latest effort will go the way of my previous attempts at being a “real writer.” That is to say, nowhere helpful. So here’s my three-part plan:
First, I leave for work at around 10 on weekdays, so I’m going to get up at seven every day and write for one hour. I’m going to generate one blog entry per week. That probably doesn’t sound like much, but since this is a blog about me being a writer, it seems like a cheat to just write this blog and call it a win. That will lead in to the third chunk of my plan, but before that:
I’m going to start cross-promoting my blog entries on my Facebook and my personal Twitter (thanks for that idea, Jake). One of my problems so far is that my writing has occurred largely in a vacuum; there has been very little accountability. So, friends, family, blog readers: I shouldn’t need to ask you this, I’m sorry that I need to, but please bug me about writing. Comments and messages are welcome. Angry comments and messages are welcome if it comes to that.
My other big problem is that I have been too cowardly to show my writing to any but a few of the people I know in “real life.” I’ve used the anonymity of the internet as a crutch, and it needs to stop. I call myself a writer to the people I know, but I have not allowed most of them to read what I’ve written. Ridiculous.
Finally, I tend to bounce from project to project. When inspiration runs short I throw my current work in a proverbial drawer and move on to something else (or, more often, to nothing at all for a while). Well, that’s crap. It’s a terrible way to write. So I will always be working on at least one project, and I will persist in working on it, whether or not it’s yielding fruit, for at least two weeks. This is not to say that I’ll only ever be working on one thing, but anything other than my primary project will be “extracurricular.”
To the regular readers: thank you for continuing to read. To those just joining: thank you for checking me out. To all of you: there’s a lot of other stuff you could be doing with your time, and instead you’re here, reading my blog. You deserve better. I’m going to be better. I hope you’ll stick around.
Thank you to my brothers Jake and Brad, to writer David Wong, and to my wonderful, supportive girlfriend who pointed out David’s article to me. You can check out Jake, Brad, and Rachel at their blogs. David Wong is the editor of Cracked.com. His premier novel John Dies at the End as well as the sequel This Book is Full of Spiders, are available wherever books are sold. John Dies at the End is also a motion picture available for streaming now, and in theatres January 25!
Thank you, sincerely, for reading. More to follow.