I just read a wonderful blog post by Rachel Gardner, a literary agent, on what writers give up for their craft.
I can easily list the things I give up to be a writer;
Television. I don’t watch television, except those few shows airing between 9:00 and 10:30 p.m. because by then I am too tired to write, even if I wanted to. Even then, I don’t watch every night and am often doing something else, like writing a letter or folding laundry, while I watch.
Sleep. For three years I have been getting up between 5:00 and 6:00 to write. Even when I want to sleep in, need to sleep in, try desperately to sleep in, my internal alarm clock wakes me up by 6:00. I am learning the art of the 20-minute nap finally.
Reading. Oh, I read. I read magazines, writing books, and books I plan on comparing mine to in my proposal. What I am not reading right now is the stack of books I have in my “to-read” pile, including the newest Jodi Picoult and Elizabeth Berg books, two of my favorite authors. I know better than to start one of those or one entire day will be shot because once I start one of their books I have to keep reading until I finish. So, for now, while I am deep at work in the proposal, I am not reading all those good books that are calling out my name.
Scrapbooking or crafts. I used to paint and draw. My children recently discovered an old sketchbook of mine and raved over the pencil drawings. “You used to be able to draw!” one exclaimed. “What happened?” When I see a beautiful painting, my fingers still itch to try it again. But right now, all my artistic compulsions are funneled into writing. The pen is my brush, the paper my canvas. And I swear there is a scrapbooker inside me even though I have neither the rudimentary skills or knowledge about how to begin. Every single time I see a scrapbook kit in a clearance aisle I pick it up and am sorely tempted to purchase it. Okay, I have purchased kits before and pored over them. Then they sit in a cupboard for a year and I sell them on eBay or at my garage sale. I am attracted to the idea of scrapbooking as an art form, but I have neither the patience nor the time to acquire the skills. And then, there is that whole “paper lust” thing going on, too, clouding the issue.
Socializing. I don’t go to coffee with my sisters every Monday morning because that would cut into my prime writing time; weekday mornings while my kids are still asleep.
Gardening. While I like the idea of beautiful flower and vegetable gardens, both take time, time I would rather spend writing.
A clean house. If I spend several hours in a day writing, that means there is less time spent cleaning that day. That is just a given. So I have had to reconcile to the fact that my house is not going to be spotless and tell myself that really creative people are messier than their less creative counterparts. Sayings like “A clean house is the sign of an empty mind”, or “A clean house is the sign of a boring person,” helps alleviate any guilt I might feel otherwise. Of course, I could do without Agatha Christie’s “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.”
Relationship skills. No one enjoys a conversation with someone whose mind is elsewhere. I know that. But when I am deep into writing something, it stays with me all day, even while I am doing other things. My husband can laugh at my ability to function while my mind is elsewhere, but I am sure I have offended some people with my single-mindedness when I am working on something. I find this is less of a problem when I give myself regular writing times away from home. Then I try to leave my notebook at the door when I come back. (but I take it with me everywhere else I go, in case I have some time in the car to jot notes down)
Money. Sadly, I do not make a lot of money from my writing. $25 here, $100 there is nice, but it doesn’t make a living for me. Someday I hope that it will, but for now money is not the motive behind my writing, and neither is fame. No, I write because, as hackneyed as it sounds, I have to. I am not happy when I am not writing.
So, what things have you given up as a writer? What things do you not do that you otherwise might?