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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Why Real Life Matters to Writers.

I read an interesting blog post the other day (it may have been the other week, actually - time passes so fast) about the topic of real life and writers. I read it several times and each time the text passed my eyes, the whole article seemed to get much deeper.

Writers have always been thought of as a bit eccentric and odd by the majority of society and I'm sure there's good reason for this. The creative types seem to be very original by nature and are often outcasted by others. I can't speak for other writers but I don't mind this aspect of life at all. If anything, people who think I'm a little weird I just love to wind up even further - to prove their point all the more. The majority of times I simply don't care what other people think of me anyway, and I believe my first book shows this for those of you who have been kind and read it. No one on this planet knows absolutely everything about me and I find solace in the fact that I only share with other people what I'm comfortable with.

Now, on to my original point: writers and real life...   I think I am the worst for isolating myself just so I can get on with my work. When I get into something - regardless of what that may be - I find myself quite obsessed by it. And if this is writing, I can write for weeks and weeks and weeks without seeing anyone else.

Now I know this is bad. When I was writing my first book I spent all my available time doing just that. I couldn't get enough of it - I was almost like a heroin addict with my fix! Getting very snappy and irritable if it was taken away from me for any reason. I put it above everything else in my list of priorities, thinking I just couldn't wait for it to start selling on Amazon. By nature I'm very driven, determined and ambitious - once I set my mind to something then that's usually it. But now I'm more aware that I'm happier if I keep a more balanced approach to life. Yes, I will do my work by all means but I will also take time out to spend with my dogs, friends and family. I'll also make sure that I get out of the house at least once a day. If I spend too much time indoors I often find that when I need to go out it can be difficult. When I was writing my first book I'd only just recently moved into a whole different area and I think this was part of my problem - I had nothing else to do apart from work. I joined a drama group to meet more people but I think that wasn't enough. Writing can be a very solitary experience and I think it's vital to have a life outside your work as well.

So next time you don't want to go anywhere or see anyone because you'd rather be writing, please consider - is that what you really want?


  1. Everyone is different. The trick as a writer is to find out what works best for you. Some writers have no choice. Life’s demands back their writing into available opportunities, in the wee hours of the morning or whilst the kids are napping in the afternoon, and they cope as best they can. I’ve been writing now for forty years and if I haven’t figured out what works for me by now, well, I never will. For starters as a child I went through a long period just as I was coming out of puberty when I spent every available minute locked in the front room (which I’d co-opted as my office) so much so that when I did venture into the street one of the kids said, and I remember this very clearly: “Here comes the recluse.” That was a bit of a shock to be as I didn’t think I was one; I’d just been very busy.

    Then we had all the marriage and working years when the writing got fitted in as you do.

    Now life has conspired to free up my time and I can spend all day, every day, sitting in front of this laptop typing away and I’ve pretty much sat here for the last four years doing that waiting on me having had my fill of it but it looks like I’m nowhere near that yet. Granted I’m not totally alone – I have my wife here – but she’s the only other person I see most days. The fact is though that when she’s not here – three times a year she goes to the States to visit her parents for three weeks at a time – my routine varies little. And I’m content. Perhaps it’s an age thing but I don’t really think so.

    The advice we’re usually given – and usually by non-writers too – is to write about what we know. There are others – this time, writers – who say that no one should start writing until they’re thirty because they’ve not lived enough. I think there is definitely a case for the latter. I was in my mid-thirties before I wrote my first novel and much of the poetry written prior to then wasn’t that great either. So, yes, if you’re in this for the long haul then now is perhaps the time to get in those experiences from which you will draw in later years. If a day a week feels right then go for it. Me, I’d need to go somewhere else and leave my computers here. But that’s me.

  2. Good points. I agree with all of them. I've expanded this theme in my blog post and mentioned your blog. See -

  3. I find it interesting that you listed your dogs first when you mentioned whom you spend your time with. lol.

    Great post. It's true that as writers, if we don't have a balanced life our writing will suffer. We have to be part of the world in order to write anything interesting about it!

  4. Great point there Cindy, and yes my dogs!! I don't know where I'd be without them.

  5. I wish I could be like you! I find myself talking on the phone, e-mailing people, reading posts like this; anything but writing. Then my husband comes home and I cook and eat, then I am tired so I just watch TV.
    I started NaNoWriMo yesterday and wrote the beginning of my novel, starting over from scratch. For a year and a half, I could not bear the idea of starting over, despite the fact that I had way to many POVs, tenses and waaayyy tooo many years (50, to be exact). O.K., now I have begun; I will continue. I MUST do this. This story must get out where people can read it.
    Thank you for your support of my process.

  6. Good luck with that Sherrie, I wish you all the best! It is difficult sometimes, not everything goes smoothly but I'm glad you found my post helpful.