Bringing it all together: Work, work, work…

So far, in this short series about writing, I’ve discussed Want, Desire & Faith, Ideas, and Motivation. And way back in the Want post and some in the Ideas post, I touched upon the results of these three things. When you take the want and desire to write with the faith that someone will want to read/publish said writing, add an idea (or two or three) and have the motivation to write, this equals work.

Work. Ah! How utterly dreary!

Work isn’t a bad thing. In fact, in this case, work is actually referring to two things. One, the amount of effort and labor you put into writing. Writing takes effort. Writing forces a person to exert their brains. They have to choose the right words. They have to string these words (which are ephemeral and horrible tools) together to create plot, action, characterization, setting, dialogue, evoke emotions and excitement! This is hard work and for those who aren’t used to it and even for those that are, it’s very tiring. The brain has been running a race, and it can be shaking and protesting by the time the writer is finished.

And two, the end result, a story is often called a ‘work.’ When the story is done, it is a written work or a work of fiction, or a work of non-fiction as the case may be. The writing is a product of your labor.

As I discussed all the way back in the concept of Want, when you really desire something, you will be willing to expend the effort, to put the work in to achieve your desire and goal. In fact, most days, you’ll probably enjoy it. When you get into the project, you know it will be hard and you know it will take time, but you also know that in the end all your exertions, or herculean efforts will be worth it. That when you reach your goal and that you are satisfied that it is the best that you can do, that satisfaction, that knowledge of completion will be enough. That “I did it!” is the sweetest reward of all. You have something you can point to show you have accomplished something.

(‘I did it’ might be some of the most powerful words in the world, along with ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m sorry.’)

Work isn’t a bad thing. We, as human beings, need work. We need purpose. We need something to do to give our lives meaning. One of the goals of raising a child is to give them the skills they need (or give them access to the training) so that they may become a productive and contributing member to society. And one of those things that is required to be member of society is a job or work. Work that is suited to their innate abilities, talents, interests and learned skills. That’s why parents teach their children to read and write and do math. They send them to school, which is a child’s job until they reach the end of what society considers what they need to know and they move onto the next level. (Whether or not society is fulfilling their end of the bargain on what a child really does need to know is a rather explosive discussion that I’d rather not go into. Being childless, I don’t have an issue in that fight.) (The puns are everywhere.) Whether the next level is higher education or a job.

Learning takes effort. It is hard. The mind has to adapt to new ideas and concepts and that hurts. It takes time and effort to create new thought patterns, create muscle memory and new modes of behavior. To be able to do any skill with any amount of finesse, you need to put an enormous amount of time in it. (Remember what daddy said about being a machinist, it takes four years.) There are certain modes of thought that say you can’t become an expert at anything unless you’ve put 10,000 hours into doing that one thing. That’s 417 days. That’s a year, a month and 22 days of consecutive time put into 1 skill. If you put forty hours a week into doing one skill that means it’d take 250 weeks to become an expert at it. That’s 4 years and 10 and a half months. (See, Daddy wasn’t far off.)

Is there anything you want so badly that you’re willing to put almost 5 years worth of time into it? If you want to write, are you willing to sit at the computer or with a notebook and pen and spend almost 5 years of time putting out words?

If a person doesn’t have a purpose or work, they tend not to do anything. They become angry and often self-destructive, turning that anger on themselves. They are unhappy (which is an understatement) because they are not producing anything. They have nothing they can point to and say “I did that.” And it becomes that much harder to want to do anything, to put forth the effort and to have motivation.

Work is a good thing. Your wants, faith, ideas and motivations fuel your work. They allow you to set and accomplish goals and to stick to those goals.

Wants, faith, ideas, motivation, these things come together in almost mystical ways. It doesn’t really matter here what came first; the want to write or the idea or the motivation. That would just start a huge chicken and the egg discussion. These things come together and support each other to keep you going while writing.

Like I said, work is hard. Writing takes effort. Some days it will feel easy, the words will flow right from your finger tips and you’ll know exactly what to put down to convey what you want and it will be fun and there will be happiness. Other days, work is drudgery, the words won’t want to come, the characters won’t behave and you’re ready to fling whatever writing implement you have across the room in frustration. (Not a good idea with a computer of any cost level, but you get the idea.) Sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away from it and take the time to think and reevaluate.

When the work is drudgery and you don’t feel like you’re getting anywhere, or you need to muster up the courage to take the next step in the writing process or plunge into something you don’t want to talk about it. That’s when these grounding things really come to the fore. Your idea isn’t working the way you want, but you’re motivated to continue on. You don’t feel motivated that day, but how much you want it can at least make you feel like you should give it a token go. And in the really bad mornings, sometimes you don’t want it anymore, and then you can look at your idea and go “But it’s so good,” and resolve to go on one more day. And behind it all is faith, faith that what you’re doing is the right thing. Faith that there are others out there that want to read your writing. Faith that somehow this will fulfill your goals and satisfy your motivations.

All of this comes from inside you. Others can support you in your writing. They can help you along the road. But the primary motivator, the one who has to want it and be willing to put for the effort, the work, it takes to achieve the goal, writing a short story, or a novel comes from you and you alone. To be good at it, no matter what your innate ability or talent is, takes time and the conscious will to learn how to be better. It is an ability to cope with writer’s block and the words don’t come. It’s skill to write meaningful and reality based dialogue. It’s definitely a skill to use proper grammar.

So, maybe you aren’t good at writing at first. The important thing is that if writing is your goal, is that you are out there doing it and putting for the work and effort required to get better. Everyone has to go through their own learning process and that’s a good thing.

When you’ve met your goal. When your writing is complete and you’ve gone through all those hardships to finish it. You can step back and go “World, I did that. I made that! And you can’t take that from me!” Without the work, there wouldn’t be the exhilaration! And the hardships, and the work, only make this victory sweeter for you and you alone know the herculean exertion that it took to get to that goal.

So, you’re going to have to excuse me. I hear a squeaky toy of doom calling me and saying that I need to get back to work.

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