The Secret Lives of Writers – Melinda Kovac
Melinda Kovac is a writer of short stories, historical fiction, young adult novels and memoir who is working on her first novel. She has been blogging for a number of years, with her newest blog now at melindakovac.com. She also has her own copywriting, editing and proofreading business, MKK Communications, should you need any of those services.
Writing: find what works for you
A year ago when I offered to write a guest blog post about how writers juggle art and life I naively thought I’d have it all figured out by now. People seem to do this all the time, I thought, so I’m sure I can get to the bottom of it. Even just a few months ago when I knew this deadline was approaching I thought I’d be able to finally implement those wonderful writing habits I kept hearing other authors refer to, and that I could regale you all with my learnings. You’ve all seen those habits mentioned before:
- Get up an hour earlier to get writing done.
- Write every day.
- Write a minimum of 750 words a day.
- No, double that! Write 1,500 words a day.
- Etc., etc.
Classic procrastinators such as myself can use these writing habit suggestions as an excuse to never get started, or to start and then quickly give up again when we miss a day. I would love to be able to sit here and tell you I write every day, but that would be a giant lie. So here’s my top tip for those who want to write: just bloody write however it best works for you. It doesn’t matter if you don’t meet a minimum word count a day, and it doesn’t matter if you skip a day, a week or even a month. Plus, there is so much more to writing than the physical act of words on a page. Sometimes you need the time to work through a corner you might have backed a character into, or you might want to abandon a writing project because you’ve had a new idea you just need to jot down. Sometimes life just gets in the way. And, you know what? It’s ok. Because if you want to write, you will get back to it when you can, not when someone else tells you to. It might come in waves, and that is perfectly ok. You can still call yourself a writer even if you’re not spending x number of hours a day writing.
[bctt tweet=”So here’s my top tip for those who want to write: just bloody write however it best works for you.” username=”dileeshus”]
By way of example, here’s a brief history of my own experiences.
My first published work was a self-published picture book, written when I was around eight years old. I even did my own illustrations. It was about a cat who looked remarkably like Garfield (because I can’t draw so I traced Garfield), and was a story in which nothing much actually happened. Not only was I author and illustrator, but also publisher, using the finest cardboard and staples. It was not my finest work, but even at that young age I knew I wanted to write.
When I was 12 I started writing a young adult novel about a group of female friends. One of the girls moves away from her best friend, and then… Well, I never found out what happened because I never finished it, but I still remember how much I loved writing it. My friend, Emil, supported my writing by writing a song to accompany my novel’s release (as you do). The book was called Always on my Mind because I loved the Elvis song, but Emil’s original song was much better. The couple of chapters I’d finished were written on my sister’s electronic typewriter, and Emil and I would hand write letters to each other about its progress.
Throughout my teens and 20s a few stories were begun but never finished. And then relationships, university, moving out of home and work took over, and my writing was neglected and limited to personal blogging. A little before my 30th birthday I was flicking through a newspaper and saw an advert for a writing course being run at a university nearby. I was already working full-time in the public sector by then and wasn’t sure how I’d fit it in, but I knew I had to do it. I needed to write again, and regular course work was the focus I wanted. Mum, who is still my sounding board on many things, was extremely encouraging. You’ve always wanted to write! she said. And she was spot on. Despite everything else going on, that desire never left me.
[bctt tweet=”Just keep calling yourself a writer, because you don’t stop being one just because life gets in the way.” username=”dileeshus”]
Thankfully I am in a workplace which is quite flexible, so I was able to attend lectures and tutorials and am now about a year away from completing my Honours in this writing degree, with a view to doing a PhD. But not even all that went as smoothly as I’d planned. That pesky thing called ‘life’ got in the way again. A difficult marriage break-up and troubling times with my family resulted in me taking 18 months off studies just so I could heal myself and get my mental health back on track. And that’s ok, because sometimes things get in the way, but the lure of returning to writing is strong.
So, that all said, how do I juggle art and life? Well, I’ll let you in on a secret: I have no idea, and am still trying to figure out what works for me. At the moment when I’m not working the only writing I’m doing is academic writing or blogging. Half of my thesis is an artefact—my own piece of creative writing—but so far I’ve been busy getting the course work components finished. My aim now is to try and fit in even 10 minutes a day for some form of creative writing, and 10 minutes is completely achievable, but I am yet to start with this daily goal. I’m looking forward to the next part, when I get to write my historical fiction, and in the meantime am forgiving myself for the lack of creativity coming out of me. So maybe that’s the trick: forgive yourself! Just keep calling yourself a writer, because you don’t stop being one just because life gets in the way.
The Secret Live of Writers is a series of blog posts from writers (published or unpublished) who dish the dirt on how they juggle life and art. You can read about the whys and wherefores here.
The Secret Lives of Writers is now available as an ebook
You can now read all 13 guests posts from Volume 1 in the one convenient ebook. It’s out now in the Amazon Kindle Store and in other stores (iBooks, Kobo, Nook etc.) too.
Full of writing inspiration and advice, if you’re a writer, or an aspiring writer, and this book doesn’t get you putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), nothing will!
You can grab your copy from the Delicious Publishing Book Store.