Balancing Acts for Writers

royal typewriter shown at an angleAnyone trying to make a go of it as a writer for more than 6 minutes will have heard the adage to write every single day. That’s what makes people writers, after all. They write. They don’t just talk about writing or literature, they do their best to make it happen, which means getting some kind of writing out there in some fashion, on a daily basis.

Okay, I think we all get it. Can we have a little reality check now? If someone misses a writing date on a given afternoon, are they *poof* not a writer anymore? Where is the line between poseur and writers with real life interference?

Personally, I benefit from a frequent, regular focus on writing, craft, and storytelling. I keep at least one notebook and pen with me so that when ideas strike, I can write them down and let them mingle with my subconscious for a while. I get a blog post, segment of fiction story, essay, or something out onto the screen on as regular a basis as possible, and sometimes this means that I refuse to go to sleep until I’ve passed the 1,000-word mark. If I have to rewrite 900 of those words the next day, that’s okay, because all writing leads to better writing.

Now then, there are things like vacations, bouts of swine flu, newborns, and all of them demand a lot of time from the average person. Do we have to hand back our writer’s licenses if we cross paths with any of these things?

Absolutely not, and I wiggle my index finger in an accusatory fashion to anyone who insists otherwise. But we do need to come back to the keyboard, pad of paper, or cave wall, and get back into our work when it’s appropriate. Perhaps we could think of it as taffy pulling—the space from the last time we wrote should be close to the next time we sit down and write, and the farther away those two moments are, the thinner the stream of creativity and continuity that we’ll have when we return to the game. So we don’t want too much time away or it will devolve into a tougher struggle just to get going again. And yes, I write this as an expectant parent, who knows that come next September, it will be rough to find writing time, and my partner will expect MY FULL ATTENTION on her and the baby and not some science fiction story about a rogue subway turnstile. I can’t argue with that.

But as a writer, I’m preparing for that moment. I’m gathering up story ideas now, pushing hard on three short form projects while shopping two book manuscripts, sketching out a thick outline for an adult scifi series, making notes on the story arc for the someday project of Bumbling into Baby, and pitching a few political and popular culture articles to online journals. It’s a comprehensive approach to building a mountain of work that I can continue at a slower pace when I’m forced into that. And if I miss a day here or there I’m not going to stop calling myself a writer; I refuse to cower in fear that all of it will come tumbling down.

And I don’t want to hear those fears from any of you, either. Just write when you can, make the space for it that you’re able to, and try to be realistic about how long it will take things to come to fruition, based in part on our lousy economy, and in part on how much effort you’re making toward your goals. But let’s stop believing the lie that we’re not good enough for this.

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5 Comments on “Balancing Acts for Writers”

  1. April 5, 2011 at 2:02 pm #

    Absolutely! It’s time to stop beating ourselves up and start creating! KUDOS to you and your busy schedule. With all of that going, if any or hopefully ALL of it pans out, you stand the chance of enjoying your newborn for more than the first 24 hours. Once the pattern is established, it’s easier to make time to write, just because your brain and body EXPECT that it is time to write. Good luck!

    • evmaroon
      April 5, 2011 at 2:08 pm #

      Exactly, it’s about habits and synaptic connections and getting in a groove. And I sure hope to enjoy the baby past the first 24 hours, given that I’ll be a parent FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE after that! 😉

      I figure the kid won’t know any different if I just grow them up in lots of coffeehouses. Okay, we’ll go to other places, too.

  2. April 12, 2011 at 8:42 pm #

    What about when you can’t get to reading some of your fav blogs? D’oh! “Nevvver Miinnd” (in SNL Gilda R/Emily Lattela voice). And yes, I’m That old for reals.

    Thanks for this – Inspirational and kind hearted.

    • evmaroon
      April 12, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

      Being busy because of life and writing duties is completely acceptable, John! And I’m old enough to know who Gilda Radner is, too…what a funny woman she was. Glad to have you as a reader and fellow traveler!

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  1. 5 Tips on Getting Your Work to Market | Trans/plant/portation - April 22, 2011

    […] Have more than one project to work on at a time. Writers write on a frequent, regular basis, and some days one is more in sync with one piece than another. Sure, there are times when one […]

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