Friday, March 18, 2016

Time: The Epidemic

There's been a number of posts by writers lately about the lack of time. These posts come from both sides of the fence.

Trad published writers are surprised that their publishers expect to do stuff that doesn't involve writing, like social media. Or they have to have five different discussions with three different editors over something they stetted on the proofs on one book. (FYI for those who haven't been through the process--"Stet" means keep something the way the writer wrote it, not the way the copyeditor wants to change it.)

Indie published writers whine about how much time dealing with marketing and subcontractors takes out of their day. They don't have as much writing time because of all the extraneous minutia of running a business.

Here's my two cents:

1) Regardless of how a writer has their books published, they are a small business person.

That's right, even the trad folks ARE NOT EMPLOYEES. (Actually, they are treated worse than employees, but that's a post for another day.) That means a writer is going to put in the 60-80 hours a week, more than a normal self-employed person in any other field does. If the writer puts in less, that's their choice, but the really successful folks, yeah, that's what they do.

If you don't believe me, go read Dean Wesley Smith's blog (there's a link under "Blogs I Follow" on your right). The man wears me out just reading his daily schedule. And yes, he talks about lack of time to finish a current wip, but he's also about to open a new store, which in digging into his days lately.

2) Writers can have unrealistic expectations about writing as a full-time job.

Some folks think writing means scribbling or typing for a couple of hours a day, then hobnobbing with all the important people. Dinner parties. Book signings with mobs of fans.

As much as I love Nathan Fillion, Castle gives a very unrealistic portrayal of a working writer's life. If the writer can't write, he, mom, and daughter don't eat. And he sure as hell can't afford an apartment in New York City the size of the one on the show. And what about healthcare? (I say this as a parent who needs to cough up the dough this summer to have the rest of GK's wisdom teeth removed before they ruin the lovely job the orthodontists have done.)

Even the great Neil Gaiman has to change dirty diapers in between writing. So it's not all glamor and fun.

3) Writers have to learn how to fit writing in between everything else.

While it would be wonderful to have a block of hours to just write, that's not realistic for most of us. In fact, I'm a little jealous of my friends who don't have kids. Or parents. Or health problems. Lately, I've been getting more writing done in the forty-five minutes between my son going to bed and my husband going to bed.

Or heading to the school pick-up line ten minutes early, just for the quiet in the car, and tap out a few lines on my phone.

I know a lot of folks preach about making writing a priority in your day, but sometimes, that just isn't realistic.

What it all comes down to is making expectations realistic. There's also the caveat of being careful what you wish for. I know of a couple of folks who got the proverbial brass ring in this merry-go-round we call the writing industry, but it didn't make all their problems magically go away. It only added new layers of loss and problems.

So think about how you, and those around you, would really handle your success. That's just as important as how y'all handle failure.

No comments:

Post a Comment