Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Writers Write - but when and how? Are you a professional writer?
Recently a writer friend told me how upset she was by that statement, because it didn't allow for life to happen. The insinuation is that "professionals" write every day, through every situation and storm in life. Nice if it works for you.
If you're a writer, aspiring or published, you have to learn a pace and a rhythm that works for you.
I agree, writing means you have to write. Duh. There are people who call themselves writers, who do a lot of talking. Talk about writing, talk about what they've learned, talk about the book they're plotting. But writing is hard work. And the cut between the writer and the talker is clearly defined by pages. Pages, manuscripts, queries and submissions. SHOW ME THE PAGES!
That said, you can accumulate pages without writing everyday. What!? Sacrilege, you say? I used to beat myself up because I didn't have the same schedule that the "professionals" have. I've sat through workshops and author interviews where the eager newbies in the crowd are asking, "How many hours a day do you write?" And the typical interviewer inevitably asks, "Describe a typical day in your life."
Some days I write a little. Some days I think and plot. Some days I go to garage sales. Some days I sweat bullets over a scene. Some days I sit with a friend who needs me. Some WEEKS I tally pages like there's no tomorrow. On deadline, I sometimes write all day and half the night. This week I am working 15 hour days. I started at seven yesterday and stopped for the Bachelorette (we all have our limits) at seven pm and then went back to the story for a couple more hours before dropping into bed.
However, some days I watch movies or read a book. Does that mean I'm not working? Does it mean I'm not a professional?
Okay, I'm not Nora Doesn't-Need-A-Last-Name (sort of like Cher) but neither is anyone except Nora. And I've heard her talk about her days - she exercises and has a family and a life. Honestly, I don't know how she does it. I have a friend who admits she has no life other than her writing. Does she produce a lot of books? Yes. Do I want that for myself? No.
WRITING ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BRAIN by Henriette Klauser.
This book helped me realize that I'm creating all the time. Even if I'm painting a room or arranging flowers or shopping at a flea market, my brain is processing ideas. I may not write for a couple of days, but when I sit down and open the file and put my fingers on the keyboard, the story flows out.
I'm not one of those people who plan the story all out head of time. More about that another time.
Occasionally I receive a commemorative pin from my publisher, acknowledging and celebrating the publication of milestone books. The accompanying letters say, "This is a significant achievement." I think so, too. I consider myself a professional. I've written thirty-eight books since 1993. Sometimes two, three or four in one year. Did I write every day? No.
My husband once spent a couple of weeks in the hospital. I took line edits along with me while I sat with him all day. One summer my daughter, with her family of six, lived with us for five weeks while their new home was being finished. Do YOU think I wrote everyday? We moved to a new home and the next week I went to RWA national conference. I got a new knee last December and did a whole lot of recuperating and physical therapy. (Not to mention the drugs.)
I have a life, with a husband, family and church.
I don't always write everyday. But I'm a writer. The pages are the proof.