It took me over two months to write my newest manuscript (it’s now waiting to be edited.) But, truthfully, it didn’t take that long to write. It took that long to get written. Why? Because I had a lot of excuses. I had book covers to do. I had family crisis to deal with. I had a house to clean. I had dishes to do. I had a dog that had to go out constantly. I had a thousand million things to do for other people… and of course all of that was more important.
But here is an interesting thought. Let’s say that instead of being an independent writer, I worked at a job outside the home. Unless I took days off, that family crisis and those book covers and all the rest of it would have had to wait until I got home. All the dishes, all the laundry, all the phone calls, all the fetching and taking care of and all of the emergency emails I got from people would have had to just sit. But, because I’m home all day that makes my writing a hobby, not work.
Says who? Writing is work. Just because we don’t punch a time card or drive to another building doesn’t make it any less. We know this, so why do we let other people or other things distract us from it? If we want our writing to be treated like it’s a job, then we have to act that way, too. That may mean that someone has to wait for us to do something. That might mean that someone has to cook their own dinner, or do their own laundry. It could even mean that older children or spouses have to help around the house, or even babysit the younger children for a couple of hours a day. After all, if you were working outside the home those things would have to happen, so why shouldn’t they happen now? I’m not talking about real emergencies, or disasters, like hospitalizations, but the day to day things that we “have to do” because “no one else can”. Truthfully, is it really going to hurt Johnny Jr. to give up an hour of his TV or video game time and do some of the dishes? Or for our spouse to have to make dinner sometimes?
No. It isn’t.
If we want other people to take our writing as a serious job and not just a hobby, we have to take – and treat – it serious. It isn’t necessarily life that needs to change, but perhaps how we react to it and how we order our priorities. In the end, we get what we put in. If all we ever make are excuses, then excuses are all we’re going to have, and those don’t sell very well.
What keeps you from writing? Are they really things that you have to deal with, or are they just excuses?
Most of the time, what keeps me from writing is that I’m too tired after working all day to come home and do it. I do great when I can write at lunch, but at the end of the day, unless I do it almost as soon as I get home, I’m too tired or sleepy. Sometimes I wish I had a physical job because I think the reason I’m too tired to write is that I work all day at a desk at the computer and writing is kind of the same thing. 🙂
Great points. If I were writing at a “desk job” outside the house, I would have to complete my work… So yeah, I guess not writing because A, B, or C, are excuses at the end of the day. Great post.
I’m just finishing up the first draft of a new Robert Champion crime novel. When I began writing in June I set a daily goal of a minimum of 1000 words and revising what I wrote the day before. I log my word count on a card each day. I’m about to start my 56th day of writing on this novel. I have taken days off for the kind of reasons you mention, and I’ve revised previous days copy but written no new copy on some days (I don’t count those days as writing days.). Keeping track like this helps me keep going and lets me see my progress.
Two books that have been helpful to me in my own battle with time, other commitments and pursuing my writing are: The War of Art and Turning Pro, both written by Steven Pressfield. He’s a professional writer and has a website-blog. The concept of “turning pro” as a writer or any kind of artist is worth pursing for anyone and everyone who wrestles with the daily, ongoing attempt to produce pages. Turning pro is an attitude worth committing to.
Well said! You are absolutely correct. Excuses are things I wrestle with all the time, and oddly, my family and friends are more supportive than my career than I am. They’re constantly telling me exactly what you’ve said, “Everything else can wait, just write!” But I find I have a hard time listening to that advice and instead procrastinate under the guise of being productive and waste all my time cleaning house, paying bills, surfing the internet, watching TV, etc etc. I do work a full-time day job, but that could also be seen as just another excuse. At this stage in my career, I have to work, but if I really want to be able to quit that dead-end day job, I have to write. A lot. So thanks for reminding me that I’m only hurting myself by succumbing to the millions of reasons not to do what I love. 🙂
Amen! If you’re a full-time writer, that’s your job!!! Just because your office is at home, doesn’t mean you’re not at work. I think the BIGGEST challenge of having a stay at home job is keeping work life and personal life separated.
As a side thought, I know several successful people who run their businesses from home. What do they all have in common? They keep their professional life PROFESSIONAL. One of the things they all do is make sure that when they’re “working,” they’re wearing their “work clothes.” Professional people do NOT go to work in their PJ’s. PERIOD. It’s a mental thing, but changing into your work clothes gets you into the right frame of mind and gives the signal to those around you, “Hey! I’m at work! Don’t bug me.” Yes, this means you get to change your clothes again when you’re done working for the day, but a few extra clothes to wash…totally worth it if it helps to keep the peace with your loved ones.
Those of us who do treat it seriously manage to find the time. It’s important to us, so we can make the time.
Something of possible consideration, if you haven’t seen this article:
Because I was home, I was the go to gal for everyone including the dog. Soooo, I moved my office out to the motor home. Lord knows with gas prices that thing wasn’t going anywhere. Now if they want to interrupt me they have to go out of their way to do it. Peace at last. Good article.