Views From The Captain’s Chair! Episode Two: You Will Learn Discipline, Maggot!
Welcome to Episode Two of Views From The Captain’s Chair! Today is gonna be about some hard truths so hang on tight, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride! Or bumpy voyage, since we’re going with the “nautical” theme in this series. Oh, and speaking of nautical, go buy Mega! (Nailed it!)
Last week we talked about perspective and why you shouldn’t ignore the advice of experienced writers when they tell you you won’t “get it ” as a writer until you have at least 4-5 years of experience under your belt. Haven’t read that? Go do it. DO IT NOW, MAGGOT!
What? I can pull off the Drill Instructor thing. Yes, I can. I can too! SHUT UP, MAGGOT! …see?
Do you have perspective now? Excellent, since today we will talk about the road you have to travel to get that perspective. Because unless you are actually writing for 4-5 years you won’t get that perspective. And when I mean writing I mean actually writing. Not talking about writing, not saying you’ll get to it one day, not writing an hour on the weekend when it’s convenient. Not reading blogs about writing (although that’s the sure way to success, am I right?), but actually planting your ass-cushion in your chair cushion and going all typey-typey on that bitch. Whatever that bitch may be: novel, screenplay, comic book script, short story, cookbook, whatevs, yo! (I promise not to say whatevs again. Sorry.)
Before everyone gets their boxers/briefs/panties/leathers in a wad, I want to define a writer. A writer is anyone that writes. There. Done. Even if you only write for an hour on Saturday because that’s the only time you have then you are a writer. But this post isn’t for you. It’s for those that want to be professional writers. The ones that want to make money at it. The ones that want to do it full time and make a (meager) living like I do. That’s who I’m talking to. Everyone else can listen, but I don’t want to get into a debate about what “defines” a writer and all that ego blah blah blah. If you write, you’re a writer.
But, because there are bills to pay, you can’t just hang up a shingle and say “Writer lives here. Pay me”. That doesn’t happen. You have to actually write shit. And write shit people want to read. And write shit that publishers want to publish, or if you self-publish, an editor is willing to go over without throwing up. You have to do those things. And how do you get to that point? Discipline.
Yep, I am now going to put my Mr. Miyagi headband on and grab my chopsticks, ’cause we got some flies to catch, yo! (I said I wouldn’t say whatevs again, but I didn’t say I wouldn’t say yo again, yo. Oh, I guess I said whatevs again also. And again! Dammit! Oh, well. This Doctor lies!)
I’m not going to define it. I’m just going to explain the discipline I employed to get where I am. Ready? Get a pad and paper or maybe a micro-recorder or, if you have a secretary/Jello wrestling slave handy, you can have he/she take shorthand notes for you. Got all that? Yes? Good. Here is what I did to get to being a full time writer:
I fucking wrote. I wrote when I had time. I wrote when I didn’t have time. I pissed people off because I said I had writing to do instead of going out/cleaning the house/mowing the lawn/doing my day job/using the toilet. I wrote. And if anyone argued with me about it I said, “Only way I’m going to make it as a professional writer is to act like one and write”. Then I’d stick out my tongue and fling monkey poo at them. [Note to self: stock up on monkey poo.]
It’s not much of a secret, and it’s been said by thousands of other authors (but not with my charm) and it’s the truth. You want to be a professional writer and make a living at it? Then you fucking write! You write, you write, you write! And you write when -wait for it- you DON’T WANT TO! You think I want to be here sitting in my captain’s chair and writing this? Well, yeah, I do, but that’s not the point! The point is I am sitting here writing! Not making up excuses not to write.
Everyone has their process, I get that, but no writer has a process that doesn’t include the physical act of writing. And if one of you smart asses says “dictation software” I’ll taint punch you across the country to Cleveland (if you live in Cleveland then you’re safe). I don’t write a novel a month (yep, I do that) by watching Netflix all day. I only watch Netflix when I eat lunch. That’s discipline right there! I have the house to myself for about 6-8 hours a day, five days a week. I could totally be all Tom Cruiseing it in my tighty whiteys to Bob Segar for most of the day. But I sit my ass-cushion in my captain’s chair cushion and I write. [For the record I am a boxers guys. Be still your hearts, ladies. And gentlemen. I believe in Jake-lust equality.]
And because I do that I get better. I get better.
I get better because I force myself to write even when I don’t want to. And you know what? Once I get going, it ends up I do want to. And I should hope so or I’m in the wrong profession.
So think about this for a few minutes. Let it set in. Listen whilst I hum Girl From Ipanema. Daaaa de-da de dada de-da de, daaaa de-da de dada de da-de, daaa de-da de-dada de-da-de do do. Ready? Cool.
You have to write. Discipline as a writer means you sit down and you write. You ignore the Facebook/Twitter/Tumbsplotch/PownTube. You write. And keep writing until your head goes all assplodey. Boom! Then you can have your distractions (I call mine bourbon). That’s just the reality of the discipline of a writer. You don’t have the luxury of a boss looking over your shoulder or an office snitch like Loretta (Screw you, Loretta!) spying on you. You have to police yourself and put yourself in time out when you misbehave. And you know what you do when you are in time out? You write!
Let me BAM again! Uh…BAM!
So, if you have read Episode One: The Phantom French Tickler…no, wait, sorry, I…
So if you have read Episode One: Do Your Time! and now Episode Two: You Will Learn Discipline, Maggot!, then you have two basic building blocks to becoming a full time writer. Good on you! What’s that? You don’t want to write full time? Then take my advice and just dial it back a notch. Up to you. Either way, the advice still stands.
Or at least I think so!
So stop reading this malarkey and get thee to your typowritoratus, MAGGOT!
(I only call you maggot because it’s tough love and I care.)
Disclaimer: Views From The Captain’s Chair are just that: views. These are not laws. These are not set in stone. I could be totally wrong. I could be off my rocker (shut up). I could be full of S-H-I-T. I could change my mind next week. All of that is possible. Who knows? But if even just a little of this helps you then I’m happy with that. If it just makes you stop and think then I’ve done my job. Which I really need to get back to. Blogging don’t pay for the bourbon! Oh, and the whole Captain’s Chair thing? Yeah, I write in a captain’s chair. It’s true, Mateys! Got a question? Need some one on one? Shoot me an email, a DM, a PM (no BMs) or comment below.
Jake Bible lives in Asheville, NC with his wife and two kids.
A professional writer since 2009, Jake has a proven record of innovation, invention and creativity. Novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, Jake is able to switch between or mash-up genres with ease to create new and exciting storyscapes that have captivated and built an audience of thousands.
Posted on January 15, 2014, in Views From The Captain's Chair! and tagged bible, fiction, genre, horror, indie publishing, Jake Bible, novel, publishing, self-publishing, writing, writing advice. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.