The difficult writing life

Writing is a romanticized life.  From the outsiders perspective, writers are living the dream: staying home, relaxing with a cup of coffee, coming up with the correct order of words that might or might not change lives, maybe revising with a glass of bourbon as the sun fades and the orange glow of the autumn dusk appears.

But, as most writer’s know, it’s not all that romantic.  I’m faced with enormous pressure every day.  I’m faced with some of the most daunting decisions a person must make.  It’s a difficult life.  So without further delay, here are the top seven decisions I am forced, daily, to make, as someone trying to make a living as a professional writer:

  1. Coffee, tea, or juice: Let’s start simply here.  I amble downstairs at my house, dog at my feet, hurrying ahead of me down the stairs.  Through half-asleep eyes (Christ, it’s only 8 a.m.!), I look around the kitchen.  Juice would be the easiest option.  I wouldn’t even need a glass.  Tea is another easy option.  Boil water, steep.  Coffee, though, is so arduous.  Ugh, measuring out water, lining the filter and filling it with coffee … But, alas, today is not a day to be deterred by laziness.  Make the coffee, I usually plea with myself.  Already, I start the day with an air of cool arrogance.
  2. While the coffee percolates and pops, I know that I have about seven minutes before I can have a cup.  In those seven minutes, I have several choices to make: I could go upstairs and get the computer ready for a day of writing, maybe load up a couple of my favorite websites like The Atlantic or Huffington Post, see what’s going on in the world.  I could look at my notes from the end of the day yesterday, to see if I’m going to be focusing on trying to write/edit/or sell an article today, or if I’d rather work on a fiction piece.  I look down at the dog, “Well, you’re going to be bored today.  I’m going to be working.”  She looks at me with a hint of despair.  I decide to begin a vigorous game of Tug-of-War with my dog.  I’m a responsible dog owner, after all.
  3. The coffee poured, I work my way up the stairs to my office.  Generally, this is the time where I look down at my general state of being.  In the beginning part of the week, I eagerly get into the shower and dressed, nicely.  If I’m going to be a professional, I’m going to dress the part, jeans and a sweater, maybe a collared-shirt underneath.  I’m unemployed, not homeless.  But, what’s today?  Thursday?  Couldn’t I at least check my e-mail, maybe send a couple e-mails out in sweatpants, enjoy that first cup of coffee comfortably?  Sure I can!
  4. Okay, today I need to focus.  I have the Writer’s Market 2014 on the side table, dog-eared for a couple of publications I’d like query.  First, let’s open the article from yesterday.  Let’s run through it to see if … Oh, an e-mail from my friend.  Open it?  Don’t open it?  Well, I do have a pretty busy day in front of me.  Let’s see what he has to say.  It might break up the day a little bit.  Read, laugh, proceed to write back, eagerly await response.
  5. Alright, it’s mid-morning.  Get going.  I’m not even dressed, though.  No wonder I’ve been so unproductive today.  Okay, quick shower, get changed, commence writing.
  6. Clean.  Dressed.  Ready to write.  What’s that?  Dog wants to go out.  She goes out.  Fill the coffee cup.  What should I do until she wants to come back in?  I guess I could prepare dinner.  Nothing serious, just marinate the chicken breasts, prepare the asparagus.  Hmmm, maybe I should make them with crushed garlic.  I should crush some garlic.  Might as well make a sandwich for lunch while I’m at it.
  7. I’ve eaten.  Satisfied.  Played with the dog, had my coffee, sent some e-mails.  Now I’m prepared to write.  I sit down at my desk.  Start working on a story, article, essay … then I think: we don’t have any wine to go with dinner.  Should I go buy a bottle or two?

Fellow writers:  What are some of the tough choices you’re forced to make on a daily basis?

charles-barsotti-procrastinating-writer-writing-on-paper-about-his-writing-implements-and-h-new-yorker-cartoon

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4 responses to “The difficult writing life”

  1. Heather Vandenengel says :

    Toughest choice is always whether I’m going to actually buckle down, get in the zone, tune out distractions and get shit done. Also what kind of tea I’m going to down 5 cups of.

    Funny post, and a good reminder how every decision matters.

  2. matthewmosgood says :

    My biggest issue with tea is that I like more than one cup of whatever I’m drinking in the morning. If I make tea, I’m either relegated to (a) one cup of something or have to (b) do the whole process again.

    Or am I doing it wrong?

  3. julzwrites says :

    This is very true! The stress that comes with being a writer is absolute torture. Unfortunately, it’s inevitable
    However, writing has become such a major aspect of my life that almost everything i do is robotic. Like i am programmed for all of eternity now. lol… not sure if that’s good or bad

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