I’m a firm believer in following a passion. Life is about living, after all, and if you let work get in the way of pursuing your dreams, you can quickly end up just existing.
Having a side project on the go has always kept me (relatively) sane. It’s helped me stay creative, even if my day job has been dragging me down, and kept my mind ticking over despite the urge to turn it off and burn it.
But as much as I know the benefits of doing it, actually making that passion a reality is a different thing all together.
Let me paint you a picture of my regular day:
6:30 – Alarm goes off. Wake up full of good intentions to get out of bed and make a hearty breakfast.
8.00 – Actually get out of bed.
9.00 – 12.00 – Write copy. Really good copy. Like, some of the best copy you’ll ever see. I’m shit hot.
12.00 – 12.45 – Lift weights. Really light weights. Like, some of the lightest weights you’ll ever see. I’m shit.
12.45 – 5.30 – Amend all the copy I wrote earlier.
5.30 – 6.00 – Walk home full of more good intentions. I’ve got a great idea for a book, and today I’m going to make that idea a reality.
6.00 – 10.30 – TV.
10.30 – Bed.
I don’t know what happens between my walk home and arriving home. The urge to write is there, and the ideas I plan to put down are all swimming around in my head. But then, for whatever reason, in my head is where they stay. All cosy, cuddled up, and safe from the ridicule of the real world.
It should be much easier. I work all day as a copywriter, spending 8 hours planning, thinking of, plotting and playing with words. My fingers rarely leave the keyboard, unless it’s to pick up a pen, and writing thousands of words in a pressurised environment comes as second nature to me. Taglines, scripts, concepts, content, strategy, and everything that comes with it is easy. Piece of piss, mate. No problem.
My story, on the other hand…
Are my fingers ready for a rest? Is my mind too tired to do any more? Is it Theresa May’s fault? All these things are possibilities, but I think the reality is something different.
Pursuing your passion is meant to be hard, otherwise everyone would do it.
It’s an incredibly rewarding thing to do – to follow your dreams and see them come into fruition. To have an idea and turn it into something physical, touchable, tangible that you can hold in your hands and say, “Hey everyone, look what I did. That was me. I thought that up and then did it and isn’t it nice?”
I imagine that’s how parents feel about their new born babies, or dung beetles feel about their balls of poo. That’s definitely how I’d feel about my book, if I ever got on with writing it. It’d be my own, personal ball of poo that I’d rolled all by myself. It would have grown much bigger than me, but I’d have been determined enough to keep on rolling until it formed into a huge, shitty sculpture that I could Instagram for all my dung beetle friends to admire.
So, what can ya do? What’s going to shake you out of your lazy zone and give you the kick up the arse you need to go on to become an incredibly successful author? How are you going to have your work turned into a hit Sky drama that’s available to download in boxset form?
You’re going to set yourself targets, that’s what.
It was Christmas last year when I decided I was going to stop wanting to do something and actually get on with doing it. During that particularly pointless period between Christmas Day and New Year, when some companies insist you go into work anyway – ahem – I sat at my desk and whacked out a few thousand words to start things off.
That was when my first target was set. It had only taken a few hours, but I’d already set the scene for the story, identified my main character, and got the plot underway. The idea that had been swimming around in my head for so long suddenly had a home on paper, and that was a lovely thing to see.
If all I could give to my project was a few hours a week, that was still enough to achieve quite a lot.
Since then that’s what I’ve done. I’ve set aside even the tiniest bit of time to write something down, whether it’s a full chapter or just an idea for what might happen later.
The second thing that’s helped is to find an audience. If I didn’t respond to a brief at work, people would be disappointed. I have a crowd to please. The same applies with my story. My girlfriend wants to know what happens next, and she’s an absolute gem who’ll sit there and listen while I talk about the nonsense I’m planning. If I haven’t written anything that week, I’ll have nothing to tell her. That’s like disappointing a puppy, and we can’t be having that.
Finally, I’ve got an ambition. An ambition for what I want my life to be and what things will look like in the future. Sitting about and waiting for something good to happen is never how success comes about. No-one’s autobiography has ever included the line, “So one day I was just putting off doing anything, when suddenly I became really rich and all my dreams came true.”
That’s not how it happens. Wanting it won’t get it. Wishing for it won’t make it come true.
You’ve got to go out and make it, so for a few hours a week, that’s exactly what I’ll do.