I’m the worst… but I’m trying to get better! Real Talk about how I am failing as a writer.
I really am the worst. Not at everything, mind you (nobody is completely rubbish, we all have our positives). I’m a great husband and father. I’m an excellent cook and can make a mean pulled pork, as well as many other fine dishes. I do exceptionally well under pressure, whether it be work related or personal in nature. I’m awesome at video games (a useless talent, though it may be), and I know more about comic book lore than anyone else I know (another absolutely useless feather in my cap). But the fact remains: at certain things I am absolutely the worst. Before we start this journey together, I feel that I should make something clear: this is not coming from a place of depression. I love me, more than any one person could ever love me. I love being me. I am awesome. I am also a realistic type of person that can admit my own faults and/or shortcomings. I am OK. I am also the worst (at some stuff that matters to me).
I feel that this assertion that I am the worst is especially true as a writer. I have about a million ideas for writing projects, some of which have grown wings and started to fly, but they never really reached full maturity. I have 2 novels that I have started, both of which are about two-thirds complete and for one reason or another I have never finished them. They are outlined and ready to type, but the muse (or whatever) just has not been with me when I’ve attempted to continue writing. Part of it is being bad at time management, which is particularly funny because I manage my time like a boss at work, but that doesn’t necessarily translate 1:1 to my writing projects. At work I can focus on the tasks at hand with minimal to little distraction. At home, I have a wife, 3 kids, bills to pay, house work to do, dinner to cook, video games to play, TV to watch, and other various tasks that tend to pile up on me, all of which makes finding the time to write exceptionally difficult to find. The quality of the time that I find is also a factor, as the ideal situation is a quiet home with no distractions, but the reality is usually just enough noise and outside interference to keep me from being able to fully engage my creative side. It’s a hard balance to achieve, and clearly I am not achieving it.
Brief aside: Video games really are my kryptonite. If I am ever willingly convinced to jump off a ledge Lemmings style, it will almost assuredly be because I have a video game in my nerdy little hands.
Also, I have 6 completed film scripts: 1 of which is more-or-less unusable as it is a sequel to an existing franchise (Trancers 7: written as a passion project of sorts), but the other 5 are completely original… and they are just sitting there, unused. You’ve got a quirky indie dramedy darling, a terrifying horror movie, an over-the-top action movie, a rom-com with an offbeat heart, and a naughty bizarre sci-fi romp akin to a Douglas Adams tale. Occasionally I brush one of them off and do a redraft just to make sure that they still read well. Otherwise, they are just sitting there. I have no clue what to do with them. Living in Nowhereville, Texas (not the town’s real name) there are not many opportunities to market or sell the scripts. There is certainly not a burgeoning writer and/or filmmaking community here. Throughout the years I have attempted numerous ploys, film script competitions, letters of inquiry to literary agents, attending film and screenwriting seminars, a 48 hour filmmaking competition, and so far have not made any positive progress in finding someone to buy or film my scripts. I could film them myself, but that would require money and a lot of talented people that would work for pennies on the dollar. The initial problem here is money. I can barely rub 2 pennies together on a regular basis, so self financing the film is out the window. I don’t have an in with any rich people that think that they might like to produce a movie, so finding independent financing is not working out so well. Without the money, finding the talent is useless, so I haven’t even bothered looking. All of this brings me back to square one: I have 5 viable scripts in a veritable cornucopia of genres, fully completed, just sitting there gathering dust.
For those interested, here is a link to some original fiction writings that I have done for this blog:
One of my core problems is a follow through issue to be sure. Starting a project is simple. I can brainstorm, outline, write character profiles, and concoct bizarre plot twists with the best of them. More than that, I thoroughly enjoy writing. In fact, I love it. It is what I believe I am meant to do in this life. I just don’t know what to do with it once it is done. Common logic dictates that I need to double down on letters of inquiry to literary agents and more networking. I know I should do more of both of those. It’s a thankless job to write all of the different letters of inquiry, almost akin to trying to win the lottery. You keep trying and trying and there is no guarantee that you will ever break through (or in the lottery scenario, ya know… win). Also, depending on who you are sending the letter to, each letter has to be uniquely written to best address the type of literary agent that you are reaching out to. I need to do it, and sooner than later. These scripts (and hopefully completed novels) do me little good if they are not helping me claw my way to becoming a professionally paid writer.
Here’s what I think I need to do in order to be more successful:
- Procure a laptop. I know, I know. In this day and age who doesn’t have a laptop? Short answer: me. I truly need one, preferably a Mac. This will make writing on the go, especially in those rare moments when I’m out but actually have the time to write, viable. Currently, If I want to write outside of the home it’s on my iPhone… which is a less than desirable way to write. It can be done that way, but it should not.
- Find a block of time to write outside of my home on a regular basis. Go to a Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, Denny’s (Denny’s booth 4 life), or some place with endless coffee that I can pop some headphones in and just focus on writing and nothing else. twice a week, for a 2 hour block each seems reasonable.
- Take a step back from the Video Games and the TV. I need to budget my entertainment time better. The problem I run into here is that video games and TV are my stress relievers. Cutting back on them may raise my stress levels which could pose a new problem in the future. It’s a balance that I’ll have to find (and I’m so good at finding balances…).
- Finish my novel projects! Seriously, it’s time to put down the game controller and the TV remote and complete these novels. I have a third novel that I am nearly ready to start, which I have on the back burner till I finish at least one of my first two novels. It’s a mess, and I need to clean it up by finishing what I started. Somebody, please force me to finish a novel, at gun point if necessary.
- Be proactive in my search for distribution and publishing. This is going to be the really hard one. The worst part is that I don’t know anybody (writers, industry professionals, etc.) that can help me here either. It means more blind letters of inquiry and more nonstop attempts at networking in the hopes that I stand out from the crowd. It is a daunting task, but it must be done. For any of my written work to matter at all, it absolutely has to be done.
In the end, a lot of this post has just been me griping to hear myself gripe. I know some of the things I need to do to make my creative life easier, it’s just a matter of implementing them. That’s the trick, isn’t it? We usually know deep down in our soul what we need to do to accomplish our goals, we just don’t exert the necessary amount of effort that will get the job done. To be fair, it takes a certain amount of blind faith to be a writer, and a post like this is a simple reminder to not lose faith and to renew my will to succeed. Being a creative takes sacrifice, and I simply need to convince myself to sacrifice even more than ever (if that is even possible) in order to accomplish my goal of becoming a professional writer who trades words for money. This is where you, my lovely readers, come into play! If you have any suggestions or best practices to share that could help me or any other struggling creative that stumbles upon this article, please share them in the comments section!
Until I find the success I am working towards, I will as always continue writing!