What Are Your Priorities?

by Greg Herren

I don’t know how many times people have said the following to me, but if I  w as given a quarter each and every time, I’d be living on an island sipping a cocktail right now: “I would write if I only had the time.”

Ah, time. I personally am frequently amused by the excuses I will think up not to sit in front of the computer and do my work. “I can’t write with dirty dishes in the sink. I can’t write when I have all this laundry to do. I can’t write with the house a mess. I can’t write when I have all these errands to run. I can’t write because I am just fried from everything I did today. I can’t write with Hezbollah bombing Israel. I can’t write while George Bush is in the White House.”

Pretty much any excuse will work, really. That’s the beauty of writing; we do it usually in the privacy of our home where no one is watching, no one is standing over our shoulder with whip in hand forcing us to do it. And if we don’t have the pressure of a deadline looming—and sometimes even then—all bets are off. (In fact, right now I am trying to think of a reason—any reason— not to write this column.)

But in order to publish, you have to write. Even if its crap. Even if it’s something that no one else will ever see. (Trust me, I have written a lot of stuff that no one will ever see. Ever. Under any circumstance.) Even when you don’t want to do it, you have to sit your ass down at the computer and open a new document and do the goddamned work.

If you want to be a writer, you have to look at it as a job. Whether it’s a part time job or a full time job, if you want to make it, if you want to get published, you need to view it that way. There are so many times you really have to force yourself to do it. Skip Desperate Housewives or whatever the big hit TV show of the moment is and turn on your computer and just do it. How many hours a week do you waste in front of your television set? Cancel two of your TV nights and spend the evening writing instead. There are any number of things you can probably give up to write.

The question is, do you want to?

How badly do you want to be published?

If you don’t want it bad enough to give something up in order to make it happen, then it’s very likely that you won’t. I wanted to be a writer for many years, but was too busy thinking up excuses not to take it seriously rather than coming up with reasons to write. And finally, one day I decided, “this is never going to happen unless I change the way I look at it.”

It stopped being a fantasy and became a reality.

Within a year I published my first story.

Take your writing seriously, and take yourself seriously as a writer.

It’s amazing what a difference that can make.

4 Responses to “What Are Your Priorities?”

  1. 1 Mel September 1, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    Mr. Herren:-)
    So right. Hey, you know who writes books? People who write books. What I mean is, if you want to write a book, write it.
    I remember reading a quote from Bukowski, and loosely–this is what he said, “Writers write though famine, droughts, wars, in cellars, jail cells, in terrible living conditions. A writer writes.”
    If you don’t have this great desire to write, then do us all a favor, don’t. But, if you have that immense need to, you will sit there and share your world with us. Regardless of what’s on TV and how shitty your day was. It’s a calling, not a hobby.
    Love this post, thank you.


  2. 2 Carsen Taite September 1, 2011 at 11:08 PM

    Right on, Greg! I used to say I wanted to be a writer. Finally figured out it took a little more than wishing it so. Pen to paper. Fingers to keyboard. One word after the other. And a book was born. And another. And another. Living this dream is hard work, but totally worth it.


  3. 3 mjwilliamz September 1, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    Hear, Hear, Greg! I work two jobs and still find time to write. That’s just not a valid excuse.


  4. 4 Kim September 2, 2011 at 6:10 AM

    The comment which applies to so many things not just writing…, “this is never going to happen unless I change the way I look at it.”


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