Listening to or reading about how other writers “did” it can sometimes sap your enthusiasm. They’ve given up the vile and/or boring day job, they get up at 5am and rattle off a couple of chapters before a long walk. A quick cup of coffee and they’re back to it. They give us a vague smile and say that they limit themselves to 3,000 words a day to keep the muse impatient for the next day. After lunch, a nap, then they mingle virtually with other authors on Twitter, Facebook or emails and spend time researching the arcane science of dowsing or the latest hard resin weapon. The next day, it’s a whirl of meetings with editor and agent, then off to sit for a professional photographer and an evening talk and networking with other (published, of course!) writers.
Oh, to live this life! But is it as attractive as we think?
- Giving up the day job must have been an agonising decision – everybody has to pay their mortgage – and few writers make a decent living from their work.
- Getting up at 5am? They probably went to bed at 9.30pm, knackered. At that time of the morning, at least they get no interruptions from phone, children, spouse, neighbours, deliveries.
- The cup of coffee? Grabbed as the writer sees their precious “peace hours” ebbing away. No time for breakfast.
- Walking/swimming/the gym is essential to clear a stuffy head and to remind the rest of the body that it still works. And the head will appreciate the increased blood flow.
- Perhaps there’s a little bit of smug over-egging, but 3,000 words is the maximum they can write before their hands cramp up.
- The post-prandial nap? Think why doing the 2.30 pm talk/lecture/meeting is unproductive and half the audience is asleep. Even the most entrepreneurial take a power nap while their body naturally breaks its daily rhythm after seven to eight hours of activity.
- And that time-sucking social media? Simple – if you don’t interact, people forget you. A quick natter with friends perks you up. And there might be a blog referral that could save your novel…
- Research is the lifeblood of writing. Doing it in the afternoon switches the brain into a different mode, giving the muse a rest, but it can be a frustrating slog-fest if the information refuses to come out to play.
- And finally, it might sound glamorous, but a day traipsing up to London, fighting your way through the Tube and noisy streets, harried meetings, a quick lunch, then a lot of pre-photographic primping and trying to project studious or jolly as required while worrying about that spot developing on your nose, doesn’t sound that relaxing. The best bit is a quick glass of wine with mates in the evening before you rush back for the train.
So, still an intense “day at the office”; ruthlessly grabbing time, constant application, staying healthy, dedication to research, daily interaction with colleagues and keeping up with industry developments. And it all has to be self-driven…
Easy or what?