The first advice aspiring authors get is to write every day. Jobs and other responsibilities are just excuses. The serious writer should get out of bed several hours before anyone else, or stay up after they’ve gone to bed. Whatever it takes to meet the daily requirement.
Writing time, when I can find it, has always been a fun and enjoyable escape from the daily grind and the pressures of the real world. Becoming an author raised the bar, forcing me to act more like a serious writer should. The occasional hobby I’d loved became a chore. Trying to follow the daily writing edict sucked every ounce of joy, not just from writing, but from my whole life.
Don’t get me wrong. I envy anyone who can write every day. More power to ’em. But, at least for now and the foreseeable future, I can’t.
Self-discipline isn’t the issue. There’s really nothing I’d rather do than write every day. Blame my need for sleep, food, exercise, and good health insurance. With all these so-called excuses, I’m doing good to write for a few hours every weekend.
I don’t know about other authors, but I was totally unprepared for the demands that came AFTER signing a contract with the publisher. It’s not the publication process so much as all the other stuff. Turns out, “write novels” is just one of numerous duties on a job description I’ve yet to find that had to be crammed into my already busy life.
Tell me to do something and, unless you piss me off, I’m going to get ‘er done on time or ahead of schedule. That’s just how I roll. Doing everything expected of a Serious Writer was all consuming. I barely had time to walk the dog.
So, as I often do when frustrated, I just gave up. For several months I didn’t write at all, and I wasn’t sure I’d ever write again. Looking back, I had burned myself out by keeping my nose to the proverbial grindstone for more than two years to write my memoir, Until Thanksgiving, and After Christmas Eve. I needed the break.
My little vacation helped put things in perspective. Except for target dates that come with the publication process, my writing career is free of all but self imposed deadlines. There’s no annual performance appraisal meeting with the boss — no quotas to meet or competitions to win. Nobody is holding a gun to my head to write another novel, nor will anyone die if I don’t.
Money isn’t a factor either. Sure, I look forward to my royalty checks and hope they hasten, or at least enhance, my retirement from the day job. But I’m not dependent on royalties to keep a roof over my head or food on the table.
Maybe the daily writing rule is designed to keep aspiring writers motivated. I’m going to write every chance I get. The only motivation I have (or need), is my desire to write. And that, my friends, I have in spades.
2 responses to “The Serious Writer”
Great post, Michael! I’m one of those writers who can only write on weekends too.
Thanks, Chris. This past weekend, I never got the chance–and I’m okay with that!