Writing Exercises: "Writer With a Day Job" by Áine Greaney
As an early Christmas present I recieved Áine Greaney's book Writer with a Day Job, an inspirational workbook made to help a writer balance their creative writing life alongisde their career. This book could not have come at a better time, and I am even more excited that this workbook comes with worksheets to fill in as I go. So in all of this excitement I have decided to add these worksheets to each of these blog posts for my readers to print at home and do themselves.
My goal with these new blog posts will be to attempt to do an exercise every week (or every other week if life gets in the way) and work my way through this little book and learn from what its pages have to teach. The best way to begin is to summerize the first exercise, its lesson and reflect on what I have learned. So to begin, let us explore Greaney's first chapter:
Chapter one focuses on setting goals and objectives and our teacher goes into detail about how, as artists, our goals are expectantly broad and visionary. Setting goals, however, enables us writers to remain organized (which sounds incredibly obvious). The painful truth, one that Greaney does not fail to point out, is that as writers we are experts in procrastonation and the use of the word "but." To remedy this, it is crucial that we set our goals or crazy dreams for the sake of balance and stability. A lesson can be learned from the words "crazy dreams" because they are the title of a song Greaney uses to tell us what we really need to hear: "someone else's dreams don't get you nowhere." (This is a great song by the way, so here is the link: Crazy Dreams by Paul Brady) Someone else's dreams will not support our writing life, so that leave us all to do a little soul searching. This as Greaney points out, is an incredibly important step in our journey to balaning our lives as writers with day jobs. The important question we must ask ourselves is what we really want out of our lives as writers? Our goals are our direction, and thus our reality check. Listen to the lyrics of Paul Brady's song for yourself and really take that lesson in.
The next question to ask ourselves is to P or not to P? P stands for publishing, and it is a very important question, among many other questions to consider. Whether the P you're considering is the big P of a well-known publisher or the little P of simply submitting to magazines and newspapers is entirely up to you. Which ever we consider, Greaney reminds us not to limit our thinking to simply enter the world of publishing with our writing. We should always begin writing for us, entering the publishing game too soon can leave us stick in the "write-to-the-market-mentality," a detrimental position to be in that limits the creativity we're obviously bursting with.
Another important step to setting our goals is assessing our crazy dreams, the lights, the camera, and most importantly the writing! Our lights, camera and writing moments are exceedingly important because they are the goals we want to reach, the fantasies we want to make reality. Greaney asks what are we working on now? What idea to we have percolating through our minds and hearts? What do you envision when you have that completed, polished version of your piece? Who is there to congratulate you? Our goals obviously have to be realistic, which requires us to be honest with ourselves, but these are the questions we must ask when considering how to set our goals.
Perhaps our most important lesson of this chapter is to not let the "but" bugs bite." Let me share some of my own "but" bites as an example: "But I don't know enough about publishing," "but college has distracted me too much from my writing," "but I can't get past chapter one on this idea." I suffer this venemous thinking as every writer does. Greaney implores us in this lesson to not take lightly. The "but" word limits the writer, indicating something that cannot be done. The sooner that dirty little word is put to bed on its limiting power over us, the better. Instead, replace "cannot" with "what can I do?" This will be something I have to start practicing!
*Apologies in advance for picture quality, I only have my phone to work with.
I plan to post these blogs worksheet by worksheet rather than chapter by chapter for the sake of length. I am very excited to begin this exercise and learn from each worksheet Greaney has provided for us in this book!