"If only I had all day to write."
This goal buoyed me through many jobs that seemed intent on breaking my spirit, if I didn't break somebody's head first. I would gaze wistfully into the distance, fantasizing of that day when I could tap away at the keyboard, writing at least one manuscript a day while whistling a happy tune.
Unfortunately, all of us have a tendency to glamorize jobs that we only see from the outside.
I used to be a Tasting Room Manager at a winery, and I can't even count how many times I heard, "It must be nice to drink wine all day". I nodded and agreed, because that really does sound delightful. However, it wasn't part of MY job, even though my customers thought so. My staff and I worked our butts off to give every customer a pleasant experience while THEY drank wine. (Okay, we might have had a sip at the end of the day, but hey, by then we really deserved it.)
So it's likely we've glamorized the job of full-time writer, and we should examine exactly WHY we want that occupation.
1. It proves we're a writer
If we're spending all day being a writer, then we must be a writer. Right?
You're a writer because you write. You have ideas that swirl through your brain twenty-four hours a day, not just when your muse blows into town. You create plots and characters and you write them down, form them into exciting stories, and edit and revise until they are irresistible page-turners.
If you need to prove to anyone that you're a writer, just whip out your manuscripts, and your rejection letters, and your battered heart that keeps on beating hopefully even when the goal of publication seems as far away as Mars.
So what's another reason we want to write full-time?
2. More time to write
After an exhausting workday, it's daunting to keep the energy level up high enough to pour our heart and soul into a masterpiece. It's like coming home to another full-time job. But let's face it. Having more time to write is no guarantee that it'll actually get used for writing.
Avoiding, procrastinating, and "getting ready to write" take up a lot more of a writer's day than whipping out a couple thousand words. Anyone who's done NaNoWriMo knows that the daily 1667 word count takes at most a couple of hours of sitting at the keyboard. However, dragging ourselves to the computer can take at least four times that, not to mention eighteen times the energy.
We accomplish more writing in short bursts of time. Most of us have had to write at least some of our stories that way, stealing lunch hours, or squeezing in a few sentences here and there. It actually keeps us focused on what we need to write. We don't have time to let our attention, or our muse, wander.
Also, the prospect of several uninterrupted hours of writing frightens many people when they finally get it. For some, it can be even more restricting than too little time, and they freeze up. They can't write a single word.
Haven't you heard the best way to get something done is to give it to someone who has too much to do? It's the same way with writing.
So what is it, really, that is so appealing about writing full-time?
This is what it really boils down to. Writing full-time is like an endless supply of snow days. We can stay home in our jammies, drink coffee, and write bestsellers day after day.
It's not that we want more time. We just want the freedom to decide how we spend those unfettered hours each and every day.
We get to be our own bosses. Nobody is breathing down our neck, telling us what to do, or the best way to do it. Ahhh. Now that is the definition of bliss.
But there's a down side to all this freedom.
It's tempting to stay in your jammies too long, and then family members pinch their nose while asking when you last showered, and you have to study your calendar before giving an accurate answer. It's been so long since you left the house, the neighbor kids have nicknamed you Boo Radley, but as a cautionary tale, not a literary homage.
At some point you're going to run out of coffee, and as far as I know, Starbucks hasn't started room service for residences. Even though they totally should.
Even worse, discipline can desert you. If you think your muse is fickle, discipline has commitment issues that requires prolonged therapy.
You don't need the validation that you're a writer, and you already know how to make use of short bursts of writing time. Best of all, you have the freedom to write stories that help others escape the tedium of their daily work life.
Only a writer who has lived that existence can appreciate what a gift that is.
This is a re-post from last year, but it's something I've been thinking about, and hoped others would enjoy seeing it again.