Real pros just write. No artsy nonsense about getting in the zone while being sensitive on a beach and all that claptrap. Right? I’m sure you’ve heard the pro-speak mantra on this front. No star gazing, navel gazing, procrastination or profound doubts. This is work, folks, so face it like a man. (Or woman. Or stranded alien from a small planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse.)
Fine! They’re right, of course: those pros with long lists of published works, awards, royalty checks, and bragging rights who don’t remember how discouraging it is to get roughed up by a browbeating when you’re wondering if you have a snowball’s chance in hell of ever joining their ranks and whether writing was ever a sane ambition to start. (It isn’t, BTW, but sanity is overrated as a key to happiness.)
Do the brow-beaters want you to succeed? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe they feel like an endangered species of air-breathers huddled on a small island watching the rising tide of the new millennium as it starts to wet their toes and they are more interested in making you a reader than a writer. (Personally I think the more writers, the more readers, and in the future most of us will be proud to be both.) Or maybe they are simply giving you the brow-beating they give themselves on those mornings they would rather go back to bed than face rewrites. Fair enough. We lack the technology (or magic) to read minds so we cannot know for sure.
But here is one thing I do know. We all have a reason for writing: a feeling, a motive, a stirring in some unfathomable space that produces the urge to lay down words in its service. The writer’s muse. Let’s call it that anyhow. The ancient Greeks got some things right, after all.
Ah! There’s the exercise! Remember your muse! Between the drafts, edits and the very necessary hard work of pursuing opportunities, put aside ten minutes to send your muse an e-mail or a text message to see how it’s doing. Have an e-mail exchange with your muse about who you are as entities and the state of your relationship, and if it doesn’t answer, find out why it isn’t talking to you anymore.