BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Writer Commitment Or Writers Should Be Committed (One of the Two)

(The play on words in the title is intentional, BTW.)

Writing is a commitment. It's true before you sell, but it's even more true afterward. The tough part is that most people don't understand this and that includes family.

In general, people think that an interruption is "just a minute" and that you can jump right back into writing without any effort. This is so not true. A one minute interruption can make me completely lose what I was going to write and I'll never remember it exactly the same way no matter how long I think about it. And that one minute interruption? It can take me a half an hour or more to get back into the writing spot inside my head.

Others seem to think that if my fingers aren't moving on the keyboard, I'm not writing and it's safe to disturb me. This is so wrong. A lot of my time is spent in my head, figuring things out. One of my favorite quotes is: "Typists type, writers stare out the window." I can't remember who said it to attribute it, but it's accurate. I might be taking a break to get a drink of water or something, but my head is still working.

The other big issue that comes up all the time is people don't understand why you can't just take the day off and do what they want you to do. After all, it's no big deal, it's just one day, right?

Wrong. Really. The problem with this logic is the person assumes that all writing time is 1) productive and 2) results in keepable words. Some days writing time is not productive. Some days It might take me an hour to get a paragraph right. X hours does not produce X words on schedule. Writing is way too fickle for that.

Also, there are days where you can write lots of pages, think they're awesome, and then wake up the next morning and realize you made a wrong turn. Sometimes that wrong turn happened a couple of days earlier and I just didn't realize it until that moment. There are plenty of times where I lose a lot of work. Too much work.

And keep in mind that there are frequently multiple people asking for "just one day." Now if it's a big family deal, that's one thing, but a lot of the requests come from others--acquaintances, colleagues, etc. It's tough to say no. Others do not understand and it becomes an issue because of this. Explaining it? Well, the fallback is always, "but it's just one day." It's actually easier to just go along than to say no, but wow, you have to learn to protect the writing time, because if you don't, you'll miss deadlines.

So writing takes commitment, it takes being able to say no even when it's easier to say yes. It's not easy, but then nothing about writing ever is.