Oh, you only work part-time…

Recently I’ve been thinking more and more about what makes someone a writer. Is it their unwavering need to tell a story? Their love for the written word? Maybe it is something that they teach themselves, or is it installed in our DNA?

I don’t know.

Can you learn to be a writer or is it something that you have no choice or control over?

Some people I speak to tell me that they had no choice, that the constant burning need and desire to write down their stories is far stronger than anything else they experience. That they were born to do it and have no control over it. Others I speak to say they have learnt and honed their craft over many, many years. Yes it is still a burning desire, but they have trained and studied to be a writer.

Will these two types of people have the same end result?

blog-image-books.jpgI think I fall across the two categories. I didn’t grow up saying, ‘one day, I am going to be an author…’, however, now, I could not imagine ever being anything else. It has become a huge part of my life and I have that passion driving me forward every, single, day. It isn’t simply a ‘job’, but a way of life. In no other job would I be happy about it dominating so much of my time. When I am awake, every conversation, every programme I watch, every song I listen to and every scene I see, it is all inspiration and material for a story. When I am cooking dinner, I am thinking of something writing related, when I am having a bath, I am thinking of something writing related, even when I am asleep, writing dominates my thoughts and I often wake up with new ideas – the first book I ever completed was based on a dream I had. However, If I was spending all this time thinking about a ‘usual’ day job, I don’t think I’d be as accepting. I would be perceived as a workaholic, wouldn’t I? But because it is my passion, I accept it and so do my friends and family.

So is this simply what writers are, workaholics who spend every hour of every day thinking about their work?

As I said, for me, I span across the two categories. Yes, I believe writing is my passion and I have that constant drive to be writing something, anything, but I have also had to learn how to write. If I look back at the first attempted story I did, years and years ago, and compare it to the structured way I write now, it’s quite laughable. I have had to learn how to actually put a story together. I have also had to learn how to articulate myself properly and even how to look at the market and aim my writing somewhere, rather than just throwing it out into the unknown.

Being a writer isn’t just writing down some words and other people reading them. Before I began my storytelling journey, I didn’t realise just how much of being a writer was doing things other than writing stories.

To succeed as an author, there are a whole bunch of things to do as well as actually sitting at your desk and writing the words down. Yes, you have to learn how to write a story, and make it exciting to read, but you also have to do the following:

*Promotion – to succeed you have to be able to sell yourself. This isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I don’t find it easy to ‘big myself up’ and say how wonderful I am (which, if course, you all already know! :-)). You have to learn how to drum up interest in not only what you write, but who you are. Readers don’t just want a story to read, they want to invest in you as a person too. So now you are having to learn how to use all kinds of social media as well as building a website and creating a whole online platform for readers to invest into. Yes, sometimes when I am sitting on Facebook, or Twitter, or blogs or any other kind of social media, I may be procrastinating and making excuses to myself or simply being nosy, but a lot of the time, it is actually work. I NEED to be active on these for my writing to move forward and progress. As well as writing the actual novel’s, I am also writing things for my FB page, for my Twitter feed and blog posts for both my website and The Romaniacs.

*Events – being an author means you sometimes have to unlock that imaginary handcuff which chains you to your desk and actually leave the house – sometimes for just a few hours, sometimes for days and sometimes even longer. I think this is a necessity. Being an author is a lonely profession, it tends to be just me, myself and I, at my desk, writing. So when the opportunity arises for events to attend, I love it. Not only are these events a necessity for my sanity, but they are also opportunities to meet industry professionals, and the like, and network. Whilst your writing alone may be good enough to get you your publishing deal and on the bestsellers list, actually making the effort to go out, meet people and becoming that social butterfly, means you will build that all important interest and following. People want to see who’s behind those books. People want to speak to you and put their time into getting to know YOU as well as your novels. So regularly throughout the year, authors attend many events such as conferences, workshops, talks, award ceremonies etc. These aren’t just holidays, these are a necessity, too.

*Training – I am not saying that every person needs to learn how to become a writer, but I personally think that there is no harm in taking lessons and advice from others on how to improve. Some people may be born writers, but taking regular training sessions on all different aspects of writing, I feel, is refreshing. I have done some training and my writing has improved tenfold! And it continues to do so. I am always looking for things to help me craft my skill. Sometimes I take online training, sometimes I attend workshops and classes. Everyone is different. But I will always be looking for new ways to expand my knowledge of the industry I love being a part of.books460.jpg

*Research – An author will spend a lot of their time researching for their books, too. This can mean researching on the internet, or in the library and sometimes in many others places, too. It can be something as small as looking up on Google how to shear a sheep, to something much bigger and more expensive like visiting another country. Research takes many different forms –some more enjoyable than others – but a writer can spend hours, even days, researching a subject, only to use it in a few lines. But for the author to fully understand and use the research appropriately, this sometimes needs to be the case. It can take up a lot of time but it is needed for the book to be as authentic and as real as it can be.

These are just a few of the things that writers have to do alongside actually writing a book. And it doesn’t stop there, I am sure many of you are reading this saying, ‘what about this, too…’.

As well as all the things, writing-ralated, that we must do to get those books on the shelf for you, many authors also have the following to do, too:

*Housework

*Looking after children

*An actual day job ( some people have more than one of these, too)

*Work that needs to be done at home from the actual day job.

*Animals to look after (I have three dogs)

*Making dinner for our families

*Being a taxi service to our children (I swear LO has a better social life than I do!)

*Elderly or sick family members to look after

*Hospital appointments to attend (I suffer with Ulcerative Colitis so I have regular hospital appointments to fit into my schedule)

*Illness (Being an author means you don’t get sick pay, as with other self-employed workers, so no time to be poorly!)

*Spending quality time with your family – this isn’t as easy as it sounds. With a husband who works long hours, too, grabbing family time all together is essential, but difficult.

The list could go on and on…

So you see, when people look at my life, for instance, and see that I only work part-time, they assume that I have loads of free time and wonder why I haven’t had my books published yet. But you can see just how much time I spend on both writing related things, and everyday life. Yes, I am lucky to be at home a lot and only work part-time, but I am far from sitting on my bum watching TV and painting my nails.

I work hard.

I keep my day job as a nursery assistant going, I cook, I clean, I keep my family life going, I write books, I work on my online platform, I attend workshops, I attend conferences, I train with my writing, I do tons of research, I send lots of emails, I make phone calls, I walk my dogs, I run errands for my husband and his company, I drive LO EVERYWHERE, I attend hospital appointments every 3 months, I GET ILL, I do the food shopping, I enter writing competitions, LO GETS ILL…

And only when all of that is done, then I can sit down and watch TV or read a book. So, in my case, yes I work part-time, but my job is far from over when I leave work and come home.

But this is what it takes for me to do something I love… and that is writing stories for you to enjoy.

6 Comments

  1. janelovering
    Apr 13, 2015

    Amen, sister! And what I try to explain to people on a daily basis… I actually work far more hours at writing than I do at my day job…does that make my work in school a ‘hobby’? I wish people understood that, just because we aren’t standing behind a till or taking dictation, that writing is still WORK…

  2. Jan Brigden
    Apr 13, 2015

    Great post, Lucie! So many valid points. Someone actually once said to me, ‘Yeah, but writing must be piss-easy! It’s not real work, is it? You just make up a few characters and a bit of a plot.’ Needless to say, we no longer exchange Christmas cards 🙂 Xx

  3. Lucie – YES. All of that. I’ve been extremely lucky with the support I receive and the time I can set aside for writing. Certainly, as my children have grown older and less dependent, I have more time to myself, and that allows me to write which in turn enables me to set time aside for family days. Great post. xx

  4. Lucie Wheeler
    Apr 15, 2015

    I know what you mean, Jane. I think for most of us, the writing takes up the majority of our daily hours, but is still quite often seen only as a ‘hobby’.
    Lucky we enjoy it, hey? 🙂
    Lucie x

  5. Lucie Wheeler
    Apr 15, 2015

    Jan – wow, really? That’s quite a statement for someone to make. If only it was that easy, we’d all be writers then 😉
    Lucie x

  6. Lucie Wheeler
    Apr 15, 2015

    Thanks Laura. We are very lucky to have the support network that we do have, not everyone receives the same treatment. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
    Lucie x

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