A friend and I chatted about writing. This friend of mine is amazing. He’s going for a doctorate while working full-time as a minister and serving his wife and kids. He’s also a writer.
I asked how his writing was going. This is something the two of us do on occasion to encourage or commiserate.
I’m going to paraphrase here, because my photographic memory is 8-bit, but he said something along the lines of, “If I took all the writing I did for my doctorate and everything and focused on just writing, I’d have a few books done by now!”
Oh, man, that one hit home. A lot.
I do a massive amount of writing between Jon Mast and my non-pen-name-life.
I write three weekly blogs between my two personas. Those blog posts take at least one night to write; sometimes they’ll take two nights. I think these blogs are worth it. One is this one, of course. One deals with my ministry and just sharing what I learn from week to week. Another is more direct ministry.
In my role as a pastor, of course, I write sermons every week. I write Bible studies. This takes a lot of time and effort. Both of these are also well, well worth it.
Right now, I have a novel and a non-fiction book out at editors. I’m currently outlining two very different projects; one as Jon Mast and one for my non-pen-name-life.
Oh, and I’m still working on short stories!
I pump out well over 40k words a month without blinking, but it’s all scattered over all these projects. Imagine all those words in one project instead of approximately a gazillion.
I’m aiming with a shotgun instead of a rifle.
Shotgun writing means I’m hitting a lot of things not very hard. It means that while I may be writing well, I’m not hitting any one thing precisely.
Am I okay with that?
Part of me really, really wants to get going on this novel series I’ve been outlining. Part of me wants to set aside ministry and just be a writer. Right now that’s not practical; I love serving as a pastor, and if I went writing full-time, my family might need to eat books to survive. I wouldn’t want that to happen to my books. I probably don’t want my family to starve, either.
Then again, I love the short-form of blog writing. It’s something very different, of course, and that’s all right with me. I love sharing God’s Word through sermons and Bible studies. No problem there!
Maybe the problem isn’t that my writing is unfocused; it’s that I’m unfocused. I want to write it all, and… I can’t. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
So what do I do?
My friend told me that his doctorate is worth the work he’s putting into it, so he’s focusing on that for now. And once that’s done… in a few years… he can return to writing the way he wants to.
And that’s pretty much where I’m at right now. Except I’m focusing on… well, being unfocused.
The sermons and Bible studies will continue. I expect I’ll keep writing in my blogs. Short stories for a season and then novel-writing for a season.
And in the future… we’ll see.
But for now, I’m a shotgun writer. I don’t need to have a novel done by this day. I don’t have to make so much money just off my writing to support my family. I have the liberty of writing what I want, when I want to. Well, outside of ministry demands, anyway!
So for today… I’m a shotgun writer. And that’s okay.