Writing, like a lot of things in life, requires a certain degree of blood, sweat and tears—this will most likely be in the proverbial sense, but I’m not ruling anything out. But, by being a writer, you’ve also opened the gates to just about anything you want to be in life. Perhaps you want that dream body, a different job, or to overcome great obstacles.
As writers, we are equipped to take on anything. Let me explain.
Some years ago, before becoming a writer, I decided that I wanted to make a serious change in my life. I used to buy health magazines which covered lifestyle topics such as fitness, fashion and sexuality, aimed at a male market. The most prevalent aspect to the magazines was the fitness focus which, page after page, gave tips and advice on how to carve, chisel, burn or grow both muscle and fat. To compliment these articles, men with herculean physiques, great hair and perfect teeth would demonstrate exercises or don fashionable accessories. Now, my hair and teeth are pretty much beyond help but, after years of messing about in the gym, I decided to go for it properly. I was tired of looking at these people in awe and decided that if they can do, then so can I.
Fitness taught me one thing: hard work is the only way to achieve it. I took to the weights room with one goal in mind—to build a physique that I was proud of; to make my t-shirts stretch and to finally gain some confidence.
You may be wondering where I’m going with this. Hang in there.
Research any great athlete—be it a bodybuilder, long jumper, footballer or hammer thrower—and you will find one major similarity. All of them persist through thick and thin. Bodybuilding and changing your body takes time. You have to train constantly and consistently in order to get better, stronger and smarter, and to get closer to the end game. Writing is exactly the same. Let’s make some comparisons.
No great writer was born one. There is no life-formula to becoming a writer and no amount of privileged upbringing will make you any better than anyone else. In fact, some of the most powerful poetry and storytelling will likely come from the poor, broken and damaged among us. Writing is something you have to learn. It’s something that you have to want and something that you have to grow into.
This is exactly the same with those poster bodies with the perfect abs, flat stomachs and well-defined physiques. They weren’t born like it—they had to persistently work at it every day to become better and stronger. Okay, genetics will tip the scales, but the only difference is the amount of work you put in! And, like writers, athletes are diverse and come from all backgrounds.
Breaking the Barrier
In our world of writing, there is an invisible barrier only felt by those that have yet to cross it. If you are an aspiring author with dreams of being published, that barrier can feel like a separation to those that have ‘made it.’ That same barrier hangs over you, pokes you, torments you and has an awful habit of making you believe that those who have crossed it are either superhuman or an entirely different class of person. But, guess what, they are the hardworking, persistent and driven version of you. And some of those on the other side of that invisible line will tell you they feel like a fraud, or that someone is going to discover they’ve cheated in some way. The invisible barrier hangs over everyone in that respect. It’s only those that turn up every day to battle that are able to push through it.
Of course, this is the same with physical fitness. Anyone who pounds the iron or sweats over a running machine day-in and day-out will make progress over time. But time is the obstacle that most seldom tackle. You will work hard for a few weeks but after that, you start to not notice the subtle changes that you are making. You feel hard-done-by, defeated and broken. Those guys and girls with the perfect bodies hit that same barrier, but they kept coming back for more and eventually broke through it.
Writing ‘well’ takes time and practice. If I had a pound for every time I read someone’s work and thought “I could never write that well,” I would be living in a much bigger house by now. At the beginning we are all amateurs with terrible habits and a seemingly long way to go until we write something that isn’t terrible. The trick is to take some time, observe others and learn from your mistakes. You have to be persistent and before you know it, you’re writing smarter and stronger than ever before. I’ve hit this mind-set in the gym before. The problem that any weight lifter will endure is looking at their fellow man and seeing them lift heavier, better and for longer. But much like the case for writers, you have to take time, observe others and learn from your mistakes. Over time you get better, stronger and faster, which takes you ever closer to the end game.
The Life Hack
I was never too keen on that phrase, but look at it this way—writing needs one thing: persistence.
Writing a novel is a good example of the persistent nature of writing because without constant work, you will never get to the end. It’s only by showing up every day, chipping away and not giving in to the self-doubts and invisible barriers that you will achieve what you want. This goes for everything in life. The best stuff can only happen if you give it everything, and if you can master that mind set with writing then there’s nothing you can’t do.
Something I frequently tell people is to stop being ‘busy’ and start being busy.
Now, stop reading this and go and write something better!
© 2017 Sam Kaye
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Sam is a full-time working father of three, a fitness bod, and a writer; often sighted drinking fine ales and riding motorbikes.