Writing is work. A lot of people think they understand that, but do they really? Most people have a job. They are employed by someone else, scheduled to work certain hours, with direction of what to do. In exchange for this time and work, they get paid. Now some people work more than others. We have all seen it when someone comes in, does a half-hearted attempt at working then leaves. They still get a paycheck. I have a hard time understanding this but I see it happen. I don’t know about you but I always want to do my best when it comes to my work, whether I’ve been hired by someone else or working for myself. It is just my nature.
When you are an artist or writer, you are self-employed. Meaning you don’t have anyone setting your hours and telling you to show up except yourself. This work that you do is usually a solitary pursuit. Interruptions can be frequent unless you guard your time jealously. Progress also seems to match the movement of the tectonic plates at times. Laura Bickle said, “Progress on writing is so often invisible to the world, and it’s easier to mitigate the importance of it.” Hence why some people don’t understand when you say you’re working when they invite you out in those hours. Distractions are what I call them.
Most art or writing is speculative. This means you don’t get an automatic paycheck. You get paid for what someone else decides they want or need that you’ve already done. Payment can sometimes be problematic. Once the work is out there any number of things come along with it: public or professional reviews, criticism, contractual pressure, fan pressure, etc. Some people want you to do the same thing in every story; others complain that you did the same thing again. There is no pleasing everyone. I guarantee you will garner criticism if you put your work out there. I’m reminded again of what Neil Gaiman said in his commencement address to the School of the Arts in 2012, “if I did work I was proud of and I didn’t get the money at least I’d have the work.”
Get to work. Write on.