The Write Stuff: Developing Drive
My biggest regret in life — so far — is not having more drive when it comes to my writing. I’ve wanted to be a writer of books, comics, movies and whathaveyou ever since I can remember and used to spend my days coming up with characters and writing stories in notebooks. When I got to college, I started taking creative writing courses and was forced to actually sit down and create full stories from beginning to end. That was great because it actually made me finish things, something I’ve had difficulty with since.
I think the reason I stopped focusing on my creative writing so much was because I got the job at Wizard a few months after graduating from college. That was a dream job of mine for quite a while, even before I scored the internship there the summer previous. Attaining a long-time dream like that so young was such a great thing, but also kind of slowed me down in other ways. I lost a lot of because-I-had-to work ethic I had from college and just let it slip away a bit, focusing more on my job, new friends and picking up whatever freelance writing I could score in the magazines.
Essentially, I lacked drive. I hear stories about directors, actors or writers who spent their childhoods making films with their friends or writing plays (like the kid in the wonderful Son Of Rambow). I never did that aside from drawing and creating random superheroes here and there. I didn’t even THINK about doing it. Part of that is because I’ve always been more of an internal person. I keep most of my ideas and thoughts to myself (or did before I started blogging) and didn’t think other people would be interested in what I was coming up with. I think that’s one of the reasons I leaned towards writing, because you can do it all on your own while still creating anything you can dream up.
Now that I’m married and have a kid, I wish I could go back in time and kick my younger self in the butt and say, “Take advantage of this time and get working!” Don’t get me wrong, I love my life. I love my wife and daughter and the fact that I get to stay home, take care of her and write for a living. That’s all very rad, but I wish I had just been more organized and smart with my time back then because it feels like I have so much less of it these days.
Actually, my daughter helped kick my butt into gear before she was even born. When we found out my wife was pregnant, I had an internal clock ticking away that told me I should finish something by the time she was born. I can’t remember if I succeeded in that exact time frame, but I did write a horror script that had been kicking around in my head, something I’m hoping to read through and edit this weekend. I’ve also written an entire crime/action novel, a short comic story, an outline for the first arc of a a comic book series and am currently working on a horror novel that I really hope to finish the first draft of by the end of the year. I’ve been surprisingly creative and productive and it’s because I know how limited my time is now.
So, I’ve got a better handle on my drive to write, but I still haven’t mastered it. I’m still lazy more times than I should be. Hell, instead of blogging about writing, I should be taking this time to write, right? I feel the same way every time I decompress in front of the TV or with a comic, book or video game, but I think it’s also important to give yourself time to relax. I like to think that if I had all the time in the world and money wasn’t an issue, I’d spend the average work day writing and researching, but that’s not in the cards for me right now as other responsibilities take precedence.
It’s cool though. I may lack over-drive, but I still have hope, which is equally important. I try to be realistic about things. I don’t want to be a guy who wants to be a writer for the next ten years, I want to become a writer and more importantly, I want people to actually read my stuff. What’s the point otherwise? I take some comfort in the stories of writers like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling who both worked until they hit it big with books, the former working at it for a long time and the latter turning the stories she told her children into books for everyone.
At the end of the day, it’s a delicate balance between allowing myself to decompress and forcing myself to write. Sometimes the latter wins out, sometimes the former, but I keep getting things done. Now it’s just a matter of reading through them, editing and making sure their worth putting out there.