Change is hard, even good change. Learning to navigate change is why we’re wired for story in the first place. Even when we’re caught up in what we might think of as mere entertainment, under our conscious radar the story is mainlining inside info on how to deal with the changes that we can’t avoid, put off, or pretend aren’t really there. And so since the only constant is change, there will always be new stories, because stories will always have something to teach us. That’s why storytellers are the most powerful people on the planet.
But that power doesn’t come easily. I’m not talking about the power that comes from the story, the writing, or what you can do to become a better writer (you know, the thing I’m always going on and on about). Today I’m talking about something else: having the power to change your life in order to have a shot at writing anything powerful at all. Most of us try to avoid, put off, or pretend we don’t need to make any changes in order to write a book – but we do.
To become a writer, you have to give something up. Something time consuming. Something you care about, and that in all likelihood might have unsettling, ongoing ramifications once you let it go.
And of all the changes large and small, there’s one that underlies them all, and without it nothing else matters much. What change is that? The willingness to pay the ultimate price in the most precious commodity we have: time. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But as with most things, while the general concept is crystal clear, the specifics – what you need to actually do – is not. Because to become a writer, you have to give something up. Something time consuming. Something you care about, and that in all likelihood might have unsettling, ongoing ramifications once you let it go.
This is a lesson I learned from my writing coach, Jennie Nash. She told me early on that if you want to be a writer, you have to take a good hard look at your life, find something you spend a lot of time doing, and give it up in order to free the time to write.
I didn’t believe her at first. [Read more…]