It’s been a long time coming, but I’m finally getting to the point where I’m not embarrassed to call myself “a writer” in the right circumstances. Trust me, it’s taken years. It’s one of those unsung hard parts about being a writer, taking yourself seriously. Another is finding time to write. It’s not the hardest part, but it’s tough. Talk to any writer and he/she will tell you it’s never easy. There are a lot of reasons for this…
For example, I’ve just crossed the 50,000-word mark on my work-in-progress (WIP), a novel I’ve been working on a over 18 months. Now, even for me, this is slow. (And it’s gruesome death when you’re self-publishing. But that’s another topic.) In my own defense, however, I had some personal issues last year that sucked my will (and time) to write for many months. And after that, I faced the Demon of Writer’s Block. (Some writers don’t believe in writer’s block. They probably don’t believe in Santa Claus, either.)
I’ve gotten past the DWB recently, and started working with a new energy. (Then I got side-tracked by another project, but at least it was a writing project. And it might actually bring in money in the foreseeable future, as opposed to a book which isn’t even finished and based on its history, may not be during the current Administration.) But while renewed energy is great, maybe crucial, there’s still that problem of finding time to write.
Now, the conventional wisdom is to set up a standard time and sit down to write every day at that time. Terrific idea. In theory. In practice, Life gets in the way. I don’t have kids, and I have trouble simply attending to household duties and spending time with my wife. How writers with children manage to finish anything at all has always been a mystery to me, and I hold them in high esteem.
Yes, conventional wisdom says, but you have to treat writing like a job: Do it every day even when you don’t want to. And there, I believe, is the problem.
You see, a lot of people don’t like their jobs. They spend much of their working time devising schemes on how not to work, or how to minimize work. If you tell them writing is another job, it’s liable to suffer from the same maladies. I know that I like to set a minimum daily word count, but I don’t beat myself up if I don’t meet it, because if I work just to get to that limit, then I stop when I get there. Because it’s work, and I’d rather be reading or surfing the net.
There’s also the fact that if this is work, you want to get paid a lot more for it. So in order not to quit as soon as possible, and not to worry about pay rates, some writers tell themselves it’s only a hobby. Hobbies are extra activities you take on in your spare time. Hobbies are fun. Wouldn’t you like writing to be fun? Well, yeah, but hobbies are also things you do when you have time. And if you wait to write until you have time, then you spend 18 months writing 50,000 words.
So what is writing, work or hobby? Seems to me it should be something in between. Something you spend a regular, meaningful amount of time on, but not drudgery, not something you scheme to escape as soon as possible, even if it’s only for a long lunch. Writing isn’t one thing or the other; it’s kind of the “brunch” of careers.
I guess you could call writing a “wobby,” but I don’t think it’s going to catch on. We need someone who’s good with words to work on that.