Wednesday, January 31, 2018


I've been in a rut for several months now, going through the motions and not really enjoying what I do. This is mainly down to a deep abdominal strain I picked up at the end of August last year, one that stubbornly refuses to heal. It has been causing me a great deal of pain for the past five months. It's very debilitating and has been incredibly draining. It got to the point I simply couldn't contemplate even thinking about sitting down to write when I knew that doing so would cause me more pain. In fact, it got so bad I dreaded firing up my iMac. I decided I had to do something about it.

Drowning in self-pity and doubt yesterday, I sat and thought about what writing is, what it means to me and broke it down to examine the reasons behind why I chose to be a writer in the first place. I asked myself a lot of questions. Can I really class myself as a professional writer? Is it, in reality, nothing more than a hobby that occasionally pays? Am I actually any good at what I do? Is it an obsession, an addiction that is getting out of hand? Can I make a sustainable living from it? Do I have the motivation to get on with my writing when I'd rather be playing Call Of Duty on my Xbox, or any other of the numerous ways I could procrastinate? I was brutally honest with myself. Should I carry on or should I walk away and call it a day?

What I discovered is that yes I do love writing. Yes, I am very good at it. Yes, I have found it difficult recently. I know I'm struggling at the moment. I know it occasionally feels like I'm banging my head against a wall, especially where TV writing is concerned. I know my motivation isn't what it would normally be, mainly because of the struggle with the pain I'm having to live with on a day to day basis. But despite all that and after stripping everything back, I realised I write because it makes me happy. I'd forgotten that.

For me, it's not about seeking adulation. Nor justification. Not even remuneration, although it's absolutely fantastic when my bank account is full. And it's definitely not about making other people happy. I write because it makes me happy. What I write makes me happy. I'm happy because it's what I want to do and not something I have to do. I'm happy because I have the most fantastic job in the world where I can write about the things that appeal to me, the things that get my juices flowing, the stories that I would happily read and enjoy myself. Every one I finish brings me great satisfaction. What happens to it after that really isn't important. That's other people's worry. The journey and how I get there is the only thing that matters. My happiness matters. If I'm miserable then what is the point?

I'm only going to write what makes me happy from now on. I'm not going to try and please others. I'm just going to please me. And when I do that I'll know what I produce is going to be absolutely awesome. It's when I'm at my best. I'm going to cut out the noise and get on with what I want to focus on, what I need to focus on for me.

So if you're feeling down, or think you're not getting anywhere with your career, take a step back and ask yourself this simple question... What makes me happy? When you know the answer go and do that. Nothing else matters. Everything else is a distraction. Events and states of mind are tempory. Disappointment is tempory! Rejection is tempory! Feeling adrift is tempory! Pain is tempory... even if it's been with you for five months! Find your happy.

Those two words I always signing off with have never been so poignant.

Happy writing!

1 comment:

arn spns said...

I am a veteran - i.e. old - writer who occasionally reads your blog and what you describe is an inevitable part of writing, I think. Over the years I have published 30 books, have had over a 100 TV episodes done, along with radio and stage plays - but it doesn't really get any easier. Right now I don't think I could give myself away, as the saying goes. It's just how things are, unfortunately. Also TV has to be the most soul destroying medium for a writer who is endlessly compromising his or her personal vision and gut feelings in order to get something done. With a few exceptions, I think producers and directors neither like nor respect writers very much, they are just an unfortunate necessity they cannot live without - like toilet rolls! (Bad analogy maybe.)
The main problem with being a writer is that no matter how much money you make you continue to be dependent upon the acceptance and opinions of others. Curiously you are both very independent (in that you work for yourself) and totally at the mercy of idiots, who are the ones who make the decisions. It's no wonder that drink and depression have taken their toll of the writing profession. And what to do about it all? Well, I don't have an answer. Carry on regardless, I guess. But if it's not fun any more - and surely the actually writing and the getting of a good idea has to be - then take a break. A very successful TV writer once told me he was going to take a year off. I asked him what he was going to do. He said "Just be".