Writing is fun, but it’s also a job.
For me writing is a creative, spontaneous act of concentrated effort. I’m lucky to be able to write full time, but that doesn’t mean I have all the time in the world to dedicate to my writing. I’m a wife and mother of three teenage girls, so there’s a lot to take up my time—a lot to distract me. If I waited for “inspiration” to strike I might never write.
The best way for me to have a productive writing career, while still keeping up with all my family responsibilities, is to treat my writing as a job—it’s work that I do every day.Every day.In order to do that I have a schedule that I stick too. My girls are out of the house by 7 am and don’t come home from school until nearly 3 pm. They typically have homework or things to do with friends after school so after a few minutes spent catching up with them and hearing how things went at school, I still have a few hours more of writing time before I have to start dinner. (We always have a family dinner they can count on.)
Reporting to my desk in my home office at the same time every day, sitting my butt in the chair like my job depended on it, and getting to “work” has made all the difference to me. I know the popular mindset is to view writing as some spiritual-like ascension into another plain wherein we commune with our muse and explore the worlds our imagination creates and then poor our souls onto the pages. That sounds so awesome, but I just don’t have that kind of time. I have a finite amount of uninterrupted hours to write and an infinite supply of story ideas.
Lucky for me, and people like me, there are real bonuses to seeing your creative mind like a muscle that can, and should, be flexed at will. For one thing, writing—anything—every day is the best way to keep writing.The skill, like any skill, really is like a muscle and the more you exercise it the stronger, and easier to control it gets. Sure there are days that I don’t feel like writing, or can’t think of what to write, but the practiced behavior makes those times much easier to work through.
Working my creative muscle helps me stick to a schedule. So I can “turn it on” when I need it.The control, born of regularity and consistent writing every day, helps me treat writing like any job. And because I can treat it like a job, writing from the time my girls go to school and stopping when it’s time to make dinner, I can turnmore of those nagging story ideascrowding inside my head, into actual completed stories. More importantly, writing on a schedule—having practiced calling up my creative juices at will—allowsme to walk away from my work at the end of the day and enjoy my family without worrying that I won’t be able to find the magic again the next day. For me, that’s priceless.
If writing is just a hobby, something you do for fun, or to pass the time, than this kind of structured concentrated effort might be a waste for you. But if your dream is to be a prolific creative voice in fiction, and eventually earn a living at what you love doing, then changing the way you see your creative ability is the first step.