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The Writer’s Life

by Henry McLaughlin

The writing life is many things. It’s a calling, a mission, an opportunity to change people’s lives for the better. And it is all those things. But it’s something else as well:

Writing is a JOB.

Over the course of my life, I’ve worked several jobs. Many years were spent in state government trying to protect children. For several years, I worked for a ministry, serving in the background, helping it spread the Gospel. I’ve worked as a switchboard operator, in a clothing store, pizza-maker and cook. One of my jobs was called soda-jerk. Now it’s probably called soda-fountain creative assistant. Think barista-only with ice cream and milk instead of coffee.

The common denominator in all these occupations: they required getting up and being someplace at a specific time, ready to give several hours of my life to my employer in return for wages.

For me to be successful as a writer requires me getting up and being in my writing room by a specific time, ready to give many hours of my life to…? I guess to myself because I’m considered self-employed. But also to God who called me into this career. Of course, my other jobs were also part of my service to him. And to my reader, to provide them with the best stories I can write.

The major differences between my other employment and my writing job is, I’m answerable to myself, not an employer. Because of this I must be self-motivated. I can’t sit here waiting for a customer to come in and order a chocolate shake with strawberry sprinkles.

And, I must treat this job with the same professional attitude and integrity I treated all my other jobs.

I must show up at my laptop at the time I selected and start writing, even if the muse is on Maui. No one will know if I show up and actually work. Just me and God. And he gave me free will.

The job of writing is like any other job: it requires getting up and showing up.

But then it requires the discipline to not only keep my butt in the chair, I also need to keep my mind and heart engaged in the work of writing. And holding myself accountable to produce both quantity and quality.

Even at those times when it seems no one else is aware of what I’m doing.

How do you see your writing career?

Henry McLaughlinHenry McLaughlin’s debut novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. He lives in North Texas where he serves as Associate Director of North Texas Christian Writers. Henry leads critique groups, and teaches at conferences and workshops. He enjoys mentoring and coaching individual writers.

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5 Responses to The Writer’s Life

  1. I see my writing career in precisely the same way. Thank you for your inspiring post. It is “right on.”

    MaryAnn

  2. DiAnn Mills says:

    Great post and I so agree!

  3. Amelia says:

    Thanks. That was helpful.

  4. Thank you for all the positive comments.

  5. Really needed this Henry! Thank you for the wake up call. Great article!