What does your writing future hold? A lucrative three-book publishing deal, or a pile of dog-eared pages at the back of your desk drawer?
You don't need the gift of second sight to see your writing future clearly.
Your future as a writer depends on your commitment - and your behavior - right now, today. Do nothing now, and you'll make no progress towards your writing goal. But you will get to spend the foreseeable future with your Day Job Monster. That's guaranteed.
It's a horrifying prospect, isn't it? But thankfully, there's an alternative.
You can play an active part in shaping your own future. When you become utterly determined to hold your published novel in your hand, you understand you have to work towards realizing that vision every day.
Here are three ways to proactively shape your writing future, starting right now.
1. Make time to write.
Of course you're too busy to write. Most of us are. But when your motivation's strong enough, you can find a way. When you're desperate to get your creative project out into the world, you'll find you can squeeze just a little writing into your week. A thousand words here, a chapter re-write there, and surprisingly quickly you have a complete first draft.
Write in your lunch hour, write on the bus. By staying alert for extra writing opportunities, you'll be ready to seize them with both hands. A manuscript that's only half-written will stay that way, unless you do something about it.
2. Sharpen your focus.
When you work a day job, distractions and trivia are just part of the environment. Learn to recognize the time-wasting traps and the needy personalities, and you can tune them out. It's essential to make your writing career, not the day job, the focus of your working life.
You can do that by returning your focus to your writing project again and again, until it becomes a productive new habit. Disengage yourself from the pointless and exhausting office gossip, and the unwelcome lunch invitations. Focus on your real career, and remember that a day job doesn't warrant the kind of personal investment you put into your writing.
3. Set written goals.
Writing a book is an intimidating task. It involves a lot of work and a lot of words. But you don't have to finish your book by this afternoon! By breaking your ultimate objective into a series of smaller, achievable goals, you can tackle the monumental job ahead of you one part at a time.
But goals are no use if they're vague. They only work if they're written down, and made concrete and measurable. They give you something solid to use as a framework for your progress. Having clear, written goals transforms a dream of the future into a strategy for making it happen.
Each of these techniques will help you to prioritize your writing career over the day job. And when you do that, you start shaping your own future. Two years from now, how will your writing life look? Will you be signing a contract for your third book, or will you be sitting through another endless meeting about the uniform policy, dreaming of how your life could be?
Copyright Elizabeth Hardy 2007. This article may be freely reprinted in its entirety, as long as the biography is included. I'd love it if you'd send me a link if you use my work!
Dr. Liz Hardy is a published author and professional Day Job Monster tamer. She can show you how to hold down a day job, and still find the time and energy for your real work, writing. She offers creative support for writers at http://www.dayjobmonster.com