The Part-Time Grind

As a writer, it’s frustrating to see the same story ideas being recycled. You go to the theatre and so many of the posters advertise films that are either another installment of a popular franchise or a remake of a film made twenty or thirty years ago. It’s frustrating because you have so many story ideas that you want to share with the world; your imagination is unlimited, but the amount of time available to you is not.

If all writing involved was actually writing, the process wouldn’t be so complicated or time consuming, but a writer is essentially an entrepreneur. The writing process requires you to develop your ideas, create a product, submit that product to the marketplace, follow up on  submissions, and if they are rejected, find new markets for them.  So what do you do, if you have a job that takes up forty or more hours of your week?

First, you’re going to have to choose which project to make the main priority. At present I’m working on a science fiction novel. I have a couple of screenplay concepts I’d love to be working on as well, but if I don’t concentrate on the novel, I will never finish it.

Second, you have to commit to finishing the project. You have to decide that even if you only have a short time each day to write, you’re going to keep at it until it’s ready to submit to an editor or producer. Keep in mind that nothing you write will be perfect, so although it’s important to do your best, at some point you will have to submit the work and see what happens.

Third, don’t compare yourself to other writers. If you convince yourself you’re a lousy writer just because someone finishes a project faster than you, you’re likely to become discouraged and give up. That would be a shame, because the world needs to hear your unique voice and your circumstances will never be exactly the same as those of another writers.  It’s like the feeling you get when driving a used car and someone passes you  driving a brand new sports car. You feel jealous for a moment, until you realise he may be driving $100,000 of debt.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the best description of the writing process I’ve found is an address by Canadian science fiction writer, Robert J. Sawyer. If you look up his name on you’ll find the videos listed as Robert J Sawyer-P1 of 3-OWC2010, Robert J Sawyer-P2 of 3-OWC2010, and Robert J Sawyer-P3 of 3-OWC2010. OWC stands for the Ontario Writers’ Conference and each video is about ten minutes.  I hope you’ll find time in your busy schedule to watch these three short videos. His website, also has some great resources.

Keep writing, world needs to hear your unique voice. If you choose to use this essay, or quote from it, please remember to give me credit for my efforts.

Copyright © 2017 by J. Paul Cooper




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