To be a writer requires sacrifice… a lot of sacrifice… and I don’t mean chickens, virgins or your fellow writers. What I mean is hard work, dedication, going without the little luxuries in life and generally whatever it takes to build and sustain a successful writing career.
I read this article on Facebook yesterday – WORK ETHIC
It is a brilliant response from a writer to a young woman who complained on social media about how little she was paid by her employer, was then consequently sacked because of the post and later went back on to social media to beg people for money so her standard of living wouldn’t drop while she looked for a better paid job. The writer went on to explain all the hard, horrible, humiliating jobs she had worked over the years to feed, clothe and house herself so she could achieve her dream of writing as a career and questioned the young woman’s work ethic.
Nothing good comes easy. A career needs to be worked at. No one is going to come to you and offer you employment as a writer if you haven’t put the hard graft in before hand, or are willing to continue to do so. You don’t get anything for free and no one owes you anything. If you’re thinking of someone who’s an exception and you’re about to counter my argument with their example… then you deserve to fail in your career aspirations. Yes there are exceptions, but you honestly would have better odds of winning the National Lottery than walking into a fully fledged writing career on the back of your first completed screenplay. If you become the exception then good luck to you, but if you’re waiting around for it to happen then I want to thank you, as there’s now one less writer in the world I have to compete with.
It took me ten years to get my writing career off the ground. Ten years working evenings and nights in an awful job, sometimes coming home in the early hours in tears because I hated it so much, so stressed out I barely slept for weeks in a row. Ten years of sacrifice so I could support my wife and children, which meant no holidays abroad and only the one week away a year somewhere in the UK thanks to the kindness of relatives, turning down friends’ invitations and staying in at weekends and at one point selling pretty much all of my belongings – my extensive DVD collection, books, games and anything else that would bring in money – so my family could eat and live in a safe, warm home.
Despite the fact my career took off five years ago I still work several part-time jobs during the evenings and weekends to ensure a steady supply of income, as writing for feature films can pay so sporadically, regular income isn’t guaranteed. At one point I was writing full-time during the day and working three part-time jobs during evenings and weekends, which obviously took me away from my family and left me feeling exhausted on the rare occasions I was at home. With five features behind me and work on the sixth about to start soon I have been able to drop one of those part-time jobs and spend a little more time with my family, mostly at weekends which I try to keep clear, but my career progression still requires a huge amount of sacrifice and I’m sure this will never change.
That’s why writing is so difficult, so daunting and why so many talented people unfortunately give up and pursue other careers. If you understand what is required of you and you are prepared to put the hours in, then writing can be very rewarding, but it takes a great deal of stubbornness and resilience to get there and stay there. If that’s you, then…