Want to Write? Work it Like a Job.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been inspired to write. From morning till night I have always had a constant stream of letters, headlines, dialogue, jokes and book ideas running through my head. Trouble is, that’s where most of it stayed! Over the years I’ve crafted millions of words for an audience of one. I put writing for myself at the bottom of my to-do list. And for years that list was impossibly long. The inspiration was always there, but the list became the gatekeeper. 

For a long time I sought out deadline-driven writing assignments that would force me to put pen to paper. That’s why I enjoyed my career as an advertising writer. With deadlines looming I was continually coming up with ideas, bringing them to life, writing and rewriting. The downside is that many other hands got into my work. Some were gentle hands that knew how to take the germ of an idea and bring it to life. Others were…less than gentle, mashing ideas into unrecognizable blobs. But that’s what happens when your ideas have to pass through layers of approvers, as they do in marketing. 

I knew I was good at assignment-based writing. Fiction was another story. For me, completing a book has been a matter of reprioritizing my list, putting writing at the top. I called my own bluff. I shortened that pesky to-do list too. Now there are fewer distractions and demands tugging at me. Consciously, I combined inspiration with a life skill many creative people are reluctant to develop…discipline. Discipline and a simpler life have been the magic formula for my writing. Today my kids are raised and out the door. We traded a fixer-upper farmhouse for a lean-and-mean ranch. Every morning, I take the inspiration that I’ve always had and work it like a job. Now, writing is the most important thing in my life. It’s never more important than people, but it takes priority over laundry. That’s how I get inspired to write.

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