Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Writing is not a hobby—Carolyn R. Wilker

In the February 2014 edition of Writers Digest magazine, an ad jumped out at me, not that I will apply to the Vancouver Film School, but the ad could just as well serve for writers of books, articles, poetry and other genres, and also for journalists.
The full ad read: Writing is not a hobby, so stop treating it that way.
         It caught my attention, because like other times, I have treated it as a hobby, especially when I was just getting started.
I identify a hobby as something I like to do, but maybe don’t do all the time. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary defines it as "a favourite leisure activity or occupation." A little like me and my piano playing or my scrapbooking. Aspects of my life that I enjoy but that are not everyday activities. The ivories collect dust between playing, and my pile of photos grows bigger waiting for me to put them into my book. But then I am not a concert pianist, but neither do I want to forget those songs I’ve learned or lose my ability to play. And my job does not depend on the photos being archived by a particular time and date, and so they wait.
Perhaps the ad caught my attention more fully because I committed to Jeff Goin's 500 words a day challenge for the month of January and then decided to continue on for the month of February as well. Or perhaps it was words to this effect in a letter I received recently regarding my book— “You did a wonderful job, and I am sure it was all a pleasure in writing your book.” I’m pleased when my words bring pleasure and good memories, as it did for this reader. Little does she know about the work that goes into writing a book, but seriously, I wrote to let her know how much I appreciated her letter.
A writer finds time to write. Even one with a full-time job and children. Her scheduled time may be more limited, but committing to some routine will get that book or those poems written. She won’t beat herself up if circumstances prevent her from writing one day, or a child is sick and needs her mommy, but she gets back to it as soon as she can. Even Lucy Maud Montgomery may have had days when she could not write, but she always made her way back to it and completed a large body of work in her lifetime.
An interesting aspect to this 500-word-a-day challenge has been that sometimes I’ve put off writing until the end of the day—even if I prefer mornings— when other things have commanded my time, such as my editing work, which is essential, time with my grandchildren and other commitments, but I cannot seem to sleep without writing, and so I pick up my notebook on my bedside table and write, or go to the computer and type. Night may not be my best time, for I am tired, but I am exercising those writing muscles. It was my commitment, after all, to write more this year. Perhaps March will be my month to revise the larger pieces; the others I revise after they’re written. I still plan to write something each day, even if it is shy of 500 words.
Back to the statement that led to my pondering. Writing is not a hobby. If you are a writer, you must write.
 Choose your daily word count, put your fingers to the keyboard— or take pen in one hand and notebook in the other— at whatever time of day works best for you. One, two, three, write!


Carolyn Wilker is an editor, author of Once Upon a Sandbox, and a writing instructor. She's a member of the Editors' Association of Canada, The Word Guild, Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship, Toastmasters International, and a storyteller with the Baden Storytellers' Guild.


Kimberley Payne said...

Thanks for the reminder that writing is not a hobby!

Peter Black said...

Carolyn, I thank you for your core message that writing is not a hobby.
Of course it will be a hobby for many people, and that's fine. However, you've challenged and reminded me that for 'this guy' writing is so much more. :) ~~+~~

Bobbi Junior said...

I've never considered what category my writing belongs in. The writing part is a joyful passion. The editing part a necessary job. The marketing... Well, haven't quite gotten there, but I'm dreading it. So I can never call editing and marketing a hobby! LOL

But the writing. Hmmm... I think it's time to think this through. Thx for the push!


Tracy Krauss said...

I try to write 1000 words a day and usually manage unless I am in the middle of edits. I am trying harder each year to treat my writing like a business (or at least like something serious and worthwhile...) thanks for this reminder and encouragement.

Glynis said...

Oh how I love my job...I just wish I could move from part time to full time. Thanks for giving us lots to think about here, Carolyn.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you, Kimberley, Peter, Bobbi Junior, Tracy and Glynis.

Kimberly, you've been working hard on your latest projects. May they go well.
Tracy, you are very committed. Thanks for being a model in your writing.

Bobbi Junior, the marketing is still a challenge and definitely not a hobby. It's good to enjoy your work though.

Glynis, there are times when I feel the same way, but I also enjoy editing, as you know.

And Peter, you are always so encouraging and appreciative. Thank you for that.

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