I wanted to post something this week about time management, as it’s exam season here in the UK, and as anyone with a teenager of a certain age in the house will tell you, this means stress, pretending to revise, and exams. For me it means I’m back in to my other job, as for several months a year I put my educational hat on and mark hundreds of coursework papers and exam papers and try not to worry too much about what goes on inside teenager’s heads (hint: not a lot of common sense is involved). However as I’m spectacularly rubbish at managing my time I decided it probably wasn’t the best idea. But thinking about time management got me thinking about writing, and about writers, and about what it means to be a writer.
It’s far easier to say you’re a writer than it is to be one. It’s far easier to say you’re pretty much anything than it is to be it. This reminds me of someone I knew a long time ago. This person had big dreams of being an artist. He told anyone who would listen that he was an artist. He was a genius! Awash with talent! I expect you’re wondering now if you’ve seen any of his paintings, or if perhaps you’ve heard of him. It’s unlikely. Unfortunately, although this person was extremely good at saying he was an artist, he wasn’t good at being one. His house wasn’t full of paintings. He didn’t take part in any exhibitions. He never sold anything. The primary reason for this was that he never actually painted anything. Excuses abounded. It was his wife’s fault, for not understanding his artistic soul. It was his children’s fault, for taking up too much of his time and condemning him to a life of surburban drudge in a 3 bed semi. Paint was too expensive. His job got in the way – how could he be expected to paint when he was forced to earn a slave wage to support his family? The light wasn’t right (I never fully understood this one). And anyway, there was no point in painting, because the rest of the population was too ignorant to understand his work, and he was far too skilled to take part in local exhibits with other people who, quite frankly, were crap. So his children hid, his wife worked extra hours so he could pack in his job, and after five years, he’d spent a lot of time smoking a lot of cannabis and being angry, and done not a lot else.
He wasn’t an artist. He was a dreamer, and a bitter one at that.
Top flight fashion designers design. They produce 2-4 collections a year. Something tangible, something we can touch and feel and see. The same goes for artists, sculptors, film makers, knitters, and yes, of course, writers.
If you want to be a writer, sit down and write. It doesn’t have to be for hours a day. But it does have to be. Make words. Produce documents. Something we can touch and feel and see.
And don’t end up a bitter dreamer.