Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net
Holly Lisle's Vision

Serious Writing

By Jim Mills

2002, By Jim Mills

I intend to make writing my new full-time career.  Others have done it; I can, too.  Writing lets me work at home, rather than commuting to an office or worksite.  That's nice, but it has its own difficulties.  I find that when I work at home, it is easy to loaf and get no work done, so I need to exercise more self-discipline.  In other words, I need to kick myself in the butt and get to work.  To quote my aunt Carol, "It ain't easy."

 

Unemployment struck January 31, 1997.  I have since worked some consulting assignments off and on, but I haven't found day-job work at all this year and the finances have been very tight, with savings dwindling.  This seems to be a common affliction for aspiring writers.  Fortunately, I have The Lady Valerie, a very understanding wife, and things have been tight, but not too bad (yet).  Financial hardship is one of the prices I pay to transform myself into a writer.

 

Another price to pay:  I started writing seriously in November 1999 and found that I had a lot to learn.  There is so much to learn about this craft, and I'm not sure if it ever ends.  Fiction writers have to tell stories that entertain, in whatever genre we write.  That sounds easy.  We're all storytellers at heart, but telling a good story is another matter.  There are many rules of writing.  For example: "Show, don't tell" -- simple, yet profound.  We writers must learn the rules by heart until they become second nature.

 

I try to keep a regular routineand write first thing in the morning, when my mind is fresh and the creative juices seem to flow more easily.  Later in my day, I read, critique, and/or revise.  I find that I have to read "how-to" books in order to better learn both storytelling and writing craft.  Every book has something new to teach, and many times they reinforce what I already know.  I subscribe to several writers' magazines and read them on a regular basis.  Genre magazines are also a must read, since I write fantasy and science fiction.  As a writer, I must know what is current in the genre in which I choose to write.  I post my work on Holly's site for others to read and critique, and I return critiques -- that's the deal, though it's sometimes hard to "get to it."  And I revise my work.  Writing is my job, and this is all part of the job.

 

I have to make myself write.  If I wait for the muse to urge me to it, I won't get much writing done.  A thin wallet is a much better motivator, but it all comes back to self-discipline.  Setting a routine and a schedule for myself helps.  I try to write a chapter a day, sometimes two.   I expect to finish my current book by the end of December, do "final" revisions, and start sending it out in January.  Then I can revise my first novel, Lord of Change.  After that, I have several ideas for new novels to write.  I plan to be busy. <g>

 

Good luck with your work -- and keep writing!