There comes a time in every writer’s life when they decide to suck it up and get their shit together. For me, that time is now.
It started yesterday morning, when I spent hours scouring the internet and every major publishing house’s website for information regarding the highly coveted position of Unpaid Slave-Monkey (a.k.a., Intern). During this time, I stumbled upon several articles written by Ex-Slave-Monkeys, highlighting key points that contributed to their success. One in particular, by Ex-Slave-Monkey Livia Nelson, gave a thorough account of every step she took in landing her gig at MPI (see article here), as well as her sample resume .
Let me tell you something right now. Reading her resume, I nearly shit a brick. To me, this girl was not human, but rather some super-human literary Goddess. How did she possibly manage to accomplish all these things? Who had the time?
First, I spiraled for a bit. I stared up at the ceiling above my bed, the feeling of inadequacy feeding on my very soul.
Then, I ate some cereal. Because everyone has to eat.
Then I pulled up my own resume. To say it lacks is an understatement. In fact, aside from the education section listing my pursuit of a B.A. in English, there is nothing to indicate that I’ve written anything creative in my life. Writing samples or published works? I had none. Internships? Nada. Experience in medical billing? A shit ton. But what good is that, really?
I had a million excuses. No time. No energy. No opportunity. Although, anyone else who grew up in the hellish suburban bubble of Elk Grove will likely agree with that last one.
Well, I call bullshit on myself.
There is always a way to make time, if something is important enough to you. Making a change in your priorities is a big step in the right direction. But doing so makes a major lifestyle change nearly unavoidable. And let’s just agree that the saying “old habits die hard” exists for a reason. Because of this, I’ve decided to share some tips that I’ve adopted for myself, which will surely help any struggling writer to get off their asses and get shit done.
1) Stop Lying to Yourself. Admitting that you have a problem is always the first step. The truth is, you are a lazy S.O.B. And stop whining about how you can’t seem to get anything done. The people around you are tired of hearing it.
2) Get the Small Stuff Out of the Way Early. Gym, grocery shopping, cleaning, etc. It should all be done before you sit down to write. Why? Because there is nothing worse than being in the middle of an inspired writing session, the words seeming to flow endlessly from your fingertips, when you realize the store is about to close and you need to buy Tampons.
3) Become a Multi-Tasking God/Goddess. Multi-tasking is your new best friend. Master it. Because efficiency = TIME. You remember time, don’t you? That elusive thing you seem to never have enough of? Yeah, that is because you suck at multi-tasking. Need to cook? Throw a load of laundry in before you start. Mop the floor while your Ramen noodles are boiling. Or wash dishes. Or, if you aren’t particular about germs or mold, ignore all chores completely and live in your own filth. Whatever works.
4) Go Off the Grid. I know, it’s hard. Silence your phone. Don’t check your e-mail or social media five million times a day. In fact, why don’t you chuck all things technological into a river and be done with it? Obviously, I know that is asking too much. However, I challenge you to leave your cell phone at home for a day and see how you feel. I did, and frankly, I was appalled at the amount of times I reached into my pocket, grasping at where my phone should have been to check my Instagram feed. The fact is, there are so many distractions out there that cause us as a society to waste an alarming amount of time. I had a college professor who told me once that if I had any other windows open on my computer other than my word processor, I would never be a writer. And damn it, I’m starting to think that old codger was right.
5) Commit. You decided to make this change. Take it seriously. Don’t decide on your day off that you put in enough work during the week. You are an artist, who also happens to work 40 hours a week at a thankless desk job in order to afford such luxuries as food and shelter. Whoop-dee-do. You don’t get days off anymore. Accept it and move on.
Now, I realize some of you might have made the choice to procreate and are thus burdened with the responsibility of raising another human being. Or multiple. Seeing as I have successfully steered clear of all things babies, I have little expertise in what it takes to balance writing, working and caring for needy mini-humans. But don’t worry. I’m sure it’s nothing a good Google search can’t help you figure out.
References and Further Reading:
How To Get An Internship in Publishing: 5 Tips
5 Tips on Getting Shit Done.
September 21, 2014