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Last week I wrote about how a writing collaboration can be a really good thing for writers. It can open up new opportunities and build networks. It can give you a fresh perspective on your writing and stop you being caught in a little writer bubble.

If you haven’t read last week’s post, why not head over now and have a quick read? This week will make a lot more sense if you do that first.

This week I want to share my simple rules for working in a writing collaboration.

Be open to ideas

This is a real difficulty for some writers to overcome. We are so used to sitting with our music on and our own little worlds bouncing around us that we forget that there are other people out there. Those other people have ideas as well, but they seem distant and have no effect on us.

When you’re in a collaboration though, these ideas are now the property of the collective. They must be released into the wild and allowed to roam free in the minds of others. It’s the only way that they’ll grow and breed, becoming something more powerful than themselves.

I got a little carried away with the analogy there. I apologise. But it did give me an excuse to use that picture.

One of the points of a collaboration is to allow others to feed in ideas and to embrace them. Some might not work (including yours), and you should be open to discuss that, but don’t close yourself off to ideas before they have even been pitched.

Value the time of others

Being part of a collaboration means that you have to deal with the routines and timings of more than just you. Other people have lives, day jobs and dependents. They will not be able to reply to everything you email them within ten minutes. You will not be able to reply to everything they send you within ten minutes.

Life happens, and people’s priorities change. My recent house move totally destroyed my writing schedule. But I remain determined to get back to writing, and I did. I responded to some emails and put together a competition entry or two.

You shouldn’t expect someone to drop everything to work on your collaboration. It’s important to set expectations before, and foster a working partnership where people feel comfortable to raise issues with you, and where you can raise issues with them.

Communicate

The last rule is probably the most important. Collaborations live and die on communication. Too much means people can feel harassed and stop wanting to work with you. Too little and your collaborators will switch off, get bored, or feel unsupported.

Why not arrange a regular catch-up? Put it at a time when everyone can make it easily. Discuss what is worrying you, what is exacting you and the week ahead. It may seem really formal, and a little too restrictive, but with the meeting you will all have a forum to discuss the difficulties that you’re facing. It just makes everything so much easier.

3 simple rules

I hope the above are useful if you’re about to jump into a writing collaboration. Remember to think of it as a professional association, even if you’re all volunteers. That will allow you to be a lot more confident in the project, and I think it will also help create a really worthwhile outcome at the end of it!

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All the images on this post are taken from pexels.com.

The post 3 tips for a successful writing collaboration appeared first on Write with Phil.

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It can be difficult to tell if your ego is damaging your writing. It takes a lot of self-awareness, and I’m going to admit that I’ve struggled with this in the past. A writing collaboration can often seem like a lot of extra work. Some people fear the idea of managing another person (or people).

If they are done correctly, a writing collaboration is a great idea, and it can really help your writing and your career. I know I might have some difficulty convincing you all though – so let me take you through my thinking.

Ego will get in your way

A lot of writers have a single defining trait – they are convinced that they are the Next Big Thing. They believe that the project they are working on will be the Next Big Thing. Everything points to an inevitability that cannot be denied. Some writers have smaller targets, but they still believe steadfastly in the writing they are doing.

To write is to feed the ego. The stories on screen or stage, or in the book you’ve just read, don’t do it for you. So instead you have to create your own. Your story. Even if you don’t think it’s going to be The Next Big Thing, you still want to tell everyone something.

Being completely consumed like this is great, for a while. After a few stories, it’s easy to become completely blind to anything going on in the outside world. That can include opinion, trends or new opportunities. The more that you work alone, the more difficult it is to start thinking about starting a collaboration

A writing collaboration can be tricky

Collaborations take a lot of effort. This is because your own opinion is no longer going to go unchallenged. You’re going to have to work with other people writing sometimes contradictory stuff. This will mean you’re going to have to come to a compromise, another think that is difficult for writers to achieve.

Egos are going to be hurt, there’s no two ways about it. Not every idea will be taken forward, and not every great solution will be picked. Two minds are better than one at getting around problems, but it means that every now and then you’re going to be thinking in opposite directions.

Start a writing collaboration

Before you enter into a collaboration, especially if it’s with someone that you haven’t worked with before, make sure you set out the terms of reference. This might seem like a bureaucratic and boring thing to do (I make no apology, I’m a civil servant) but it’s important.

We’re all in this together

Even friends can descend into full on warfare over a misplaced comment or two. For people unused to each other’s personalities, a simple comment can bring the project to an end. So make sure that you have discussed how to raise problems and worries. It shouldn’t be left for one party to have to interpret a sly comment on social media. If you think you might need a mediator, get one.

Once you have worked together once or twice, you’ll be able to get rid of the terms. Or you’ll know each other so well that you won’t care if someone says something silly in an email.

Next week

Next week I’m going to explore this a little more, and give some tips on how to behave once you have someone to write with.

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The post Why you should think about starting a writing collaboration appeared first on Write with Phil.

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I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the guest, non other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt, made a really interesting point. He was speaking about how artists and creatives can easily fall foul of seeking and judging themselves by external validation alone. Writers are just as guilty of this as any others (and in fact, given how close they sit to social media, some are worse) so I thought I’d explore it in depth.

What is external validation?

In short, you are looking for external validation whenever you ask someone to comment on your work. When someone tells you they enjoyed your story, it feels good. When someone gives you a pat on the back and tells you what you’re going is worthwhile, it feels good. So, rather than being positive internally about why they are doing something, a lot of writers are constantly searching for that external validation, whether it’s on Twitter, Instagram or local writers groups.

Why it’s not a good thing

Sometimes, external validation can be a great way for writers to give themselves a boost. If you rely on it though, you are going to have a bad time.

If you’re relying on external validation to judge your worth as a writer, you’re going to have a bad time.

The desire for external validation is not a new thing. When that is combined with social media it can become all encompassing. You probably have a friend who judges themselves on the number of likes or retweets that they receive. Of another who spends hours dreaming up the perfect witty response to a news story. For writers, it can be blog posts or new book announcements.

There’s a risk that if you don’t get the validation you need from external sources, that you will do one of two things. You will either start believing your writing is no good and you should start again. Or you will believe that writing isn’t the thing for you, and you won’t bother any more.

My experience

Writing a weekly blog like Write with Phil has, sometimes, be a struggle. I’ve written some great blog posts (in my opinion) that haven’t really resonated with my followers on twitter and medium. On the other hand, I’ve written some posts that I wasn’t keen on that have seen some really good discussions take place around.

IT would be easy for me to start chasing those likes and keep repeating the same subject matter over and over again. To do that not be my writing my blog though. Instead I’d be chasing views, something that I don’t want to do. The idea of writing a blog post for a Sunday became something I didn’t want to do, despite loving it at the beginning of the year.

The realisation above took me a while to come to. I was uploading stories and hoping that others would read and comment and like, rather than focus on something that I was proud of, along the lines that I wanted to talk about. When I understood that, I started to write for me again. And the blog posts have been coming a lot easier since then.

Internal validation Stop asking for fans to tell you you’re great.

Only you know why you’re writing your story. So don’t expect anyone to give you a pat on the back every five minutes. They don’t know how much it means to you. But you do. So why not type out a quick note to yourself and pop it on the monitor screen? Give yourself a pep talk.

If this is difficult to you at first, have a look at my post about deciding what to work on to focus your mind. You’ll find that one project floats to the surface. This is the project that you should be working on, not because other people will like it, but because you want to write it.

For writers, wanting to write is worth a million Instagram shares.

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Having said that, please externally validate my work by signing up to my newsletter here.

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Yet another author interview! Thanks to Mark Ramsden for the honest, frank and very interesting answers to my usual raft of questions. It never fails to surprise me how differently people interpret these questions, and every time I step away a little more inspired.  Read the rest of the interviews here, and, if you want to answer my questions, please do

What’s your track record – what have you written?

Four books for Serpent’s Tail, 1999 -2002. A trilogy comprising The Dark Magus and the Sacred Whore. The Dungeonmaster’s Apprentice. The Sacred Blood.  Radical Desire (republished by Mandrake Press) non- fiction. Countless magazine articles. I was surprised and very grateful to have been given another lease of life by Fahrenheit13 press @F13Noir,  the hardboiled imprint of Fahrenheit Press.

They’ve published Dread – The Art of Serial Killing in 2015, republished with a new cover this year. Chris Black, a really great editor, is currently shortening my next one which will be out soon.

Why do you write?

I always read a lot, as a child. I never stopped. Unfortunately it’s more often fruitless bickering on the internet these days but I’m still looking to be enlightened and informed. Well, distraction will suffice. I thought, mistakenly, back then, that being in a pop group would be like being in the Beatles. And that being a Paperback Writer would somehow be glamorous. Harold Robbins sales proved elusive as did the lifestyle of the fab four.

What makes a successful days writing?

These days it can be any words at all. I take solace from someone who said that two minutes of writing could redeem any day. I think he was a poet so in the fortunate position of needing fewer words.

When do you feel most productive?

Late night, through dawn. We have great sunsets and sunrises here. Next to the sea. Proper professionals write in the morning before ‘keeping up with the news’, which will make you feel ill. Though I still do it.

Do you have a writing routine? What is it?

I wrote three novels in a house with my two small children, in the intervals between using large amounts of cannabis, MDMA, LSD etc which I thought I needed to ‘calm down’. There would have been more, better words consuming only green tea, as I do now.

I haven’t read Flaubert since I was a teenager, (when I didn’t fully understand him) but this is often quoted: “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

These days, after various breakdowns and some homelessness, I’d settle for bourgeois, though it remains an aspiration.

What stops you from writing?

Being too critical to even start. As has often been said: write something, anything, then fix it later. I can lose months at a time trying to visualise an entire story rather than just actually just writing something, even a new three act plan. There won’t be a swoop by the Fiction Police demanding to see your unfinished work, or an arrest for a sub standard paragraph, just write.

Say you’ve hit a slump. What do you do to get going again?

Exercise, staying very healthy and then you become annoyingly energetic and communicative. Borrow and customise something, keep at it till it’s yours rather than the original. Despite being terrifyingly erudite and rational, Michael Crichton had tarot card and I Ching programmes on his computer. Try anything that unblocks the unconscious. Whatever works.

What advice would you give someone who can’t get their writing going?

Start another project. Switch from one genre to another or even start a screenplay which you can novelise later. That way you don’t have to worry about conjuring up somewhere interesting it could be Ext: Niagra Falls, Night.

The author of the Patrick Melrose novels, Edward St. Aubyn, a man who would never stand for a sentence as terrible as this, even he is wary of the more mundane aspects of story telling.  “Part of me still longs for the purity of poetry. Without any narrative, and wretched settings.”

You don’t always have to dazzle. The Martin Amis approach can get on people’s nerves.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever had?

It’s not a ‘you’ problem, it’s a page problem. Fix what’s on the page. (Google couldn’t help me with whichever sage said this but it’s marvelous, especially if you’re too self-critical.)

Where can people find out more about you?

My blog is: markramsden13.wordpress.com  Thanks for your questions! I’d better get to work now. Having claimed to know something about this…

The post Mark Ramsden: Try anything that unblocks the unconscious appeared first on Write with Phil.

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Hello and welcome to another author interview! This time Graham Wynd has agreed to answer my questions. Thanks to Graham, and remember if you want to get involved, send me a message.

What’s your track record – what have you written?

I’ve written loads of short stories, two novellas that came out together (Extricated & Throw the Bones), and a novella that just came out from Fahrenheit 13, Satan’s Sorority, and another that’s out later from Fox Spirit Books called Love is a Grift that will also include stories that have appeared here and there.  

Price: Check on Amazon
Why do you write?

It’s fun! There’s a Dylan line about needing a dump truck to unload his head. Writing is my dump truck.

What makes a successful days writing?

Some days a sentence, some days a lot more. I sat down and wrote a 6K short in a day. I wrote one novella in a weekend. But it doesn’t always go well, so it helps to remind yourself that every new word counts as progress sometimes.

When do you feel most productive?

When I’ve carved out extra time and actually use it. I find deadlines helpful. Like in old films where the editor is screaming about needing copy before the paper goes to press. I’m an inveterate idler so having someone asking for something from me always provokes me to get it done.

Do you have a writing routine? What is it?

When I have a moment, I write. I generally write everyday but when other commitments plague me, I let myself off the hook, though admittedly at times I am champing at the bit to find out what happens next. I don’t always know.

What stops you from writing?

Fatigue mostly. Like most writers I work another job and when it’s got the pressure on I sometimes just don’t have any energy left at the end of the day.

Say you’ve hit a slump. What do you do to get going again?

Step away from the page/screen. Go out, fill your head with whatever gets it going again. Art, films, other books, a wild weekend — whatever it takes. Generally I’m working on several different projects, so if one gets stuck, I just hop to another.

What advice would you give someone who can’t get their writing going?

Ask yourself if you really want to write. If you say yes, ask what for? If you’re trying to chase fame or please somebody else it will always be a slog. Write the story you want to hear and then at least one person will be pleased.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever had?

Gotta be Elmore Leonard’s, ‘If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.’

Where can people find out more about you?

Check out my website GrahamWynd.com and see links to my many stories, my current pulpy novella SATAN’S SORORITY over at Fahrenheit 13. I often review classic crime and music, too. You may note that a lot of my titles are swiped from songs, especially by The Fall (RIP Mark E Smith). Music has been an obsession of mine just about forever.

The post Graham Wynd: Every new word counts as progress appeared first on Write with Phil.

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Last week I spoke about how writers sometimes feel guilty about their writing, and the reasons behind it. I also promised that I would go away and think up some practical solutions for my readers, so that they aren’t caught in a downward spiral of guilt driven writing. There’s a couple of ideas below that explain how to stop feeling guilty about writing.

Why guilt driven writing isn’t great

If you’re writing because you feel you should, rather than because you want to, your writing will suffer. You’ll start to hate the keyboard. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll also hate the story that you wanted to tell. You’ll associate the feeling of guilt and being forced to write. Remember, writing should be fun!

I’ve thought about my post last week and I’ve created some ways to get past the two problems I identified:

  • Other people
  • Legacy
How to stop other people’s success bothering you

You could just turn off social media and ignore your emails until you love writing again. That’s probably not going to be a realistic option for most people though. It’s called social media for a reason – it’s fun to be social on there.

A successful team – I love the face on the woman on the far left. She has no idea why she’s there.

The challenge here is to start to look inwards, not out. Look back. How much writing did you manage last year? How many books did you create, or how many pages of manuscript did you write and edit? That is your baseline. Not what a random internet persona with different challenges and different targets. Think about what you can write around the routines and the pressures in your life (have a look here about writing around the day job, not in conflict with it).

Try not to look at your finished works, either. What did you do to prepare for the books you were writing on? How many times did you redraft something? That all counts! So don’t worry about the amount of writing you finished, think about the writing that actually did.

Once you have a ‘natural’ base you can look at your writing for the coming year and plan accordingly. This means you’ll have a much more natural target based on what’s possible for you.

Legacy

Last week I said that people are worried about the legacy that they will leave. That they will never finish their big work and therefore be a wasted talent.

The advice here is similar to that above. Put simply, you need to stop worrying about the end product! You will leave behind a great legacy, regardless of whether you finish your current book. The finished product is important, but as I mentioned above, being a writer is about more than that. It’s about the very act of creation, the work that goes in to polishing that stone to a fine shine. Your legacy, whatever happens, will be of someone who enjoyed writing, who told stories, and had fun doing it.

I hope this helps you re-frame how you’re thinking about your writing. You should be enjoying it. If you have anything thoughts, I’d be happy to hear them.

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The image on this page is from Unsplash. Just like every other bit of stock footage on the internet at the moment.

The post How to stop feeling guilty about writing appeared first on Write with Phil.

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Do you know any guilty writers? You know the type, the writer who is constantly anxious because they’re not in front of the computer screen. This guilt effects all types of writers. It’s difficult to define why writers feel guilty, but I’m going to have a go.

Are you a guilty writer?

Are you the type of writer who feels guilty when they’re not writing? Maybe you’re:

  • watching TV,
  • enjoying the sunshine, or even
  • talking to your family.

In the back of your mind you’re always worrying that you’re not writing enough. Guilt driven writers can usually be found by the permanent look of stress and worry that is etched on their face. Yet you know, that watching TV, sitting in the sun and talking to your family isn’t something that you should feel guilty about.

Why is she relaxing? SHE SHOULD BE WRITING! What creates a guilt driven writer?

Most writers have two main triggers that start them panicking about whether they are writing enough. If you’re not panicking about how much you write, why not look at one of my other articles (check out the type of writer or my great writer interviews) I don’t want to be accused of increasing anxiety!

Other people

The first, and probably most common, is the how much other people seem to be doing. I write a blog a week, sometimes short and sometimes long. But there is always someone who has written more than me, or blogged eight times in a week. Then there’s the writer who blogs four times a week and also manages to write six books in a year.

Is that all you’ve written? LOL

These writers are understandably proud of the work they have created. After all, they have the discipline to sit at the computer for the hours it takes to turn out such work. So they boast about it on social media, or to their email followers. A guilty writer reads this update and feels awful about their own lack of ability.

Legacy

There are writers who die every day without completing what they are working on at that moment. A lot of writers worry about what they will leave behind – a book full of empty pages, or an inspiring body of work?

That leads to a lot of pressure. Can you call yourself a writer if you haven’t written anything? Some bloggers would say no, some would push you back to the keyboard and to finish something, anything, before your inevitable demise.

Some writers are obsessed with legacy, and what they leave behind. These are passionate writers and I don’t hold it against them. Other writers, in a not dissimilar way to the ‘Other people’ reason above, will worry that they will never get anything finished.

Are you a guilt driven writer?

Writing should be fun. You should want to sit down at the keyboard and put together a story, poem, article or script. It’s when you don’t allow yourself to enjoy it that writing becomes a chore.

I’m aware that writing ‘don’t feel guilty’ here won’t help you feel better. So I’m going to think about this and return next week with some ways to combat the urge to chastise yourself for not writing enough. In the meantime, why not subscribe to my newsletter? Go on, you don’t have to feel guilty about it.

The images on this page are from Unsplash.

The post Why writers feel guilty appeared first on Write with Phil.

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Why do you write? Is it something that you want to do, something you have to do, or something you enjoy doing? Everyone has a different reason for diving into creative writing, and everyone has a different method. This week, I gave some thought to why people write, and the benefits and negatives to each approach.

Professional writers

Do you get paid for writing? Are you making a living off it? If so, you’re a professional writer.

A lot of professional writers. Probably.

Professional writers are living the dream, according to the people I know who aren’t professional writers. After a lot of hard work they have managed to get into a profession that many people dream about but never achieve. Their work reaches a wide audience and they pick up fans and followers without having to do anything outside of their normal working day. They have contacts within the industry – heck, they are a contact within the industry.

In short, it’s a career! They also write a huge amount. Part-time or hobbyist writers complain that they don’t write enough, especially when they think about it almost every second of every day. Professional writers don’t have to worry about that – they will literally write something every day and their portfolio will keep growing.

However, there are some downsides of being a full-time writer. For most people, writing isn’t a particularly well paid job. Even for steady columns or well visited blogs, their income can vary tremendously and quickly. Freelance writers can also find it difficult to find paying jobs all the time. Some jobs can pay extremely well, while some can be a little cheaper but still mean a lot of work. This constant search for jobs, without a guaranteed income, can be really stressful for some people. Others thrive on that sort of stuff though – if you’re one of these people then good luck to you!

Passion writers

Do you sit down at the keyboard (or notebook) and turn out hundreds of pages at a time? Are you the kind of artist who gets totally immersed in their writing and doesn’t come up for air until it’s done? You’re writing, sure, but you’re also creating art that becomes your entire life and consumes everything around you. Writing isn’t just a hobby or a job for you, it is your passion.

Deep. Probably about love and stuff, but I’ve used it here.

The positives of having a true passion for writing are quite easy to guess. You will likely be prolific, creating pages upon pages of writing and putting even career writers to shame. It took you until three in the morning to get it done, but what does it matter? The tapestry of words is complete and you are the creator. You’ll work until you pass out, but that means that when you wake up you’ll be surrounded by pages upon pages of work.

Being a passion writer also means that the writing you’ll be doing will likely be really involved. You’re more likely to turn out something really different or something really genre busting. You’ll be in the zone more often, and your mind will reward you by opening up to new possibilities and new options.

There’s a downside to being a passion writer though. First off, it’s exhausting. To be immersed in a story for so long can really drain you, and leave you feeling really tired. Passion writers find it difficult to take time off to recover, because they truly believe that whatever they are writing is the next big thing (TNBT), and will shake up the world. Why would they rest, they figure, when such potential rests at the end of their fingertips?

Passion writers can also be extremely insular. You rarely venture outside, especially when in the middle of TNBT. Jobs, relationships and the real world can often take a back seat when you’re writing, and that can have a long term impact on your mental health. Also you can’t get much nutrition when all you have in the house to eat is your latest creative project. Pizza Hut isn’t practical when you have no money because all you do is work on TNBT.

Hobby writers

Writing always used to be a hobby, until the modern publishing industry turned it into something else. Until internet booksellers turned it into a get rich quick scheme. Writing used to be a place where people could just sit, write and tell a story, as much to themselves as to anyone else. Yet a lot of people still seem reluctant to declare their writing as a hobby.

Here are two hobbies next each other. Which is the more relaxing?

Hobbyists write for the love of writing, but not quite as heavily as passion writers. They will spend a few minutes here and there (or maybe even an hour or two when they get the time away from other commitments) scribbling down ideas or character sketches. You will not, however, get lost in your writing so much that you forget to eat, or forget to pick the kids up from school. You let the passion writers deal with the drama that creates.

There’s something wholesome about writing for the love of it. Writing becomes something to be looked forward too, and something that you enjoy when you get the chance. The less time you spend in front of your work in progress, the more relaxed you feel about writing when you’re away from it. Being less stressed about writing is a major plus.

The lack of agent, following or mailing list to pressure you for a new book, script or poem, means that there is very little pressure on you. This again leads to you enjoying your writing – not stressing about it. Hobbyists feel a little guilty when they’re not writing, but not because their family depends on it to put food on the table. Guilt there probably means they’re just missing writing.

There are drawbacks to being so relaxed about writing though. There’s always going to be a link between the amount of time you spend in front of your story and how much of it gets done. So hobbyists need to manage their personal expectations of what is achievable with a less strenuous timetable. You can plan for it by creating routines and removing distractions, but their output is always going to be less than career or passion writers. Remember though, not to fear the day job.

The other, perhaps more important negative, for hobby writers is that they don’t attract as many readers. After a while they will get some true fans, but as they don’t create lots of books or lots of art, they will find it difficult to build up that following in the short term. This might not seem like a massive issue – after all, hobbyists do it for the love just as much as passion writers – but if at any point you want to become a career writer, you’ll need a following at some point.

Which one am I?

As I said in my stereotypes post, you shouldn’t feel that you have to be one of the above writers. You can take different traits of the above to suit your lifestyle. For me, I have traits of both career and hobby writers. I’m too constrained by the day job (boring) to be a passion writer.

But every now and then I’ll have moments of being a passion writer. Near the end of a book, perhaps, or when there’s a particular chapter that I have to finish. When the mood grabs me I can write for hours, and the word count keeps getting higher. In fact, this blog post is a good example of that.

Write with Phil is how I am laying the groundwork for an eventual career writing. I don’t know when it will happen (it might have to wait until I retire) but eventually there were will come a time when I spend most of my time writing. By then, I’ll have a portfolio of work to show any clients. I will also have a following who like my writing, and will continue to read it.

Which one are you?

You’ve probably already decided which of the three options above best describes you. If you don’t think they describe you well, do you recognise any traits that you exhibit? Like me, you won’t be a perfect fit – but being aware of which one you want to be is just as important when you want to figure out your continuing approach to creative writing.

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All the images on this page are from Unsplash, and I created the header using Canva.

The post Creative writing: career, passion or hobby? appeared first on Write with Phil.

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I’ve mentioned before, most recently in my post about managing the expectations of non-writers, that Write with Phil and my novel are not making me millions. It would be nice if they did. I could buy a little house in the country and spend my days with a laptop and a view and no financial worries. However, for better or worse I have a day job and I do most of my writing on the way to and from the office.

I am still commuting into London and I am spending the majority of my time working on things that aren’t my writing. It can be frustrating, especially in those days when I’m on a roll with a particular story, or  I’m writing to meet a deadline. You probably recognise the situation, because I know I’m not alone – most writers also have a day job to pay the bills.

Writers who are able to get by just by writing are few and far between. Lucky fella’s.

The positives

Writers generally see day jobs at best as a necessary evil, and at worse a major frustration. I’m lucky in the fact that I enjoy my day job, and get a lot out of it. When I started to think about this blog post, I realised something else – my day job has also helped my writing. And, with a few small changes, I think most day jobs can help other writers too.

Day job positive 1: A break from writing

When you’re writing full time, as I did during my master’s degree, it can quickly become  demoralising. There are few quick wins in writing (although I’ve previously explained why you should try and create some) and it can at worst seem like a real slog to get anything done. It’s easy to get caught in a continuing cycle of bad moods and self-defeating thoughts.

A day job, even if it’s only for a few hours, gives your brain some time away from the world of writing. Thinking about something else will allow you to sub-consciously work through the problems that you’re having with your latest piece of work.

If you work in a customer facing job, you can use your time to observe people’s mannerisms and idiosyncrasies (not with a notebook, I’m not advocating using customers like test subjects or suspects). Put these observations into your characters, and you’ll be able to build a much more believable world.

A day job also gets you out of the house! Fresh air, remember that?

Day job positive 2: Structure

For some writers, their jobs will not give them much structure and this won’t apply to them. But even if your job isn’t on a specific day or time, you can build habits and routines around it. If you get to work on a bus, take a notebook and brainstorm some ideas as you go. You can do that no matter what the time!

I’ve spoken about structure and routine before, and how I’ve used it to increase my productivity. I’m a big believer in this, and most day jobs will force you into it. Instead of pushing back, embrace it and build it into your writing day.

Day job positive 3: It’s not life or death

You know how to put yourself under a lot of pressure when you’re writing? Simple – need to earn a living from it. Writing should be enjoyable, but if you have no other source of income other than your writing, you’re creating a situation that will lead to nothing but stress for you!

Have you ever worked in sales? I have, and know that you have to make sales in order to bring in the money you’re relying on can be stressful. Those types of jobs are built around commission, but the rest of life isn’t. You can’t tell the credit card companies that you can’t pay them because you didn’t hit target this month. And I’d be really surprised if they accepted the same excuse about book sales…

A day job gives you that bit of money that allows you to stop worrying about making money, and instead enjoy your writing.

Remember to make time for writing

Of course, some day jobs can become all-consuming. You can end up with no energy for writing, or no time. I think in those situations you have to make a difficult decision. Or, you could really look at your time and find those moments, those precious moments, for writing.

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All the images on this page are from Pexels.com, and I used Canva to create the header image.

The post Why writers shouldn’t fear the day job appeared first on Write with Phil.

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