The life of a writer

Way back in March I decided to allow myself a Weekly Day of Unplugging. During this Day of Unplugging I would take time away from the computer, phone and TV, to more fully enjoy my real life.

I’m pleased to say that I’ve been able to keep this promise to myself (more or less) in a way that has been beneficial to me. Here’s what I’ve done – and not done on my unplugged days.

I have not always turned off my mobile phone. Instead, I’ve only turned off my mobile phone when DD-19 was home during the weekend. I wanted her to be able to contact me at any given moment. Even if that meant I could not turn off my phone. This way, I experienced more peace of mind than if I would have unplugged my phone. After all, my self-imposed “rules” aren’t set in stone. They are there to make my life better, not to make it miserable.

I have not always stayed away from the TV. In fact, since I don’t watch TV very often, it’s actually relaxing for me to watch a DVD with my husband and daughters. It’s also time spent meaningfully with my family, because we talk about what we’ve seen on the box later on, which means we get twice the fun.

And finally, I haven’t even always stayed away from the computer. I usually stay away from the computer on Saturdays, but…

I’m a writer, and as a writer I can become quite crabby if I do not get my writing fix on time. And I will become a real pain in the arse to anyone unlucky enough to be anywhere in my vicinity when inspiration strikes and I do not have the means to write. It annoys the living daylights out of me.

So I will write on Saturdays, even if that means I have to fire up my computer. I won’t make myself and my loved ones suffer because I’m dumb enough to stop myself from doing what I love most.

This doesn’t mean I always need a computer to be able to write. There are times when I write best using plain old pen and paper. There are also times when I write best when pounding out words on my keyboard. My intuition seldom fails to show me what works best for me at any given moment.

That’s why yesterday I decided to start up my computer almost immediately after breakfast. I needed to write, and I needed my computer to get the job done.

I didn’t write non-stop. I got called away from my writing by the hubby wanting me to help him with a job in the shed. I played with the cat. The hubs and DD-15 wanted food. Silly little things, but they pull me out of my story and take a big chunk of time out of my writing. Still, by the end of the day, I’d written over 1700 words, which isn’t bad. Not for me. I don’t usually write that much in a day.

I obsess over my words. I fuss over my punctuation. I freak out over my formatting. I go back to earlier parts of the story because I think I spotted a plothole. I do most of these things even when writing blog posts, but believe me, a blog post is nothing compared to a novel.

A novel is hard work. Blood, sweat and tears. It’s a fight that’s hard to win. You have to know your characters at least as well as you know yourself. You have to make them suffer, even if you love them to death. You have to love them, even if they are nasty pieces of work that you’d much rather hate.

No, it’s not easy, but I couldn’t live without it. My characters are my life. Their joys are my joys, and their pain is mine too. I suffer all that I make them suffer. If I didn’t, I couldn’t write it. It’s that simple. And that hard.

That’s why, to me, there’s no better life than the life of a writer.


About Liam

Poet, writer, aspiring minimalist
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2 Responses to The life of a writer

  1. Leah says:

    Hi Susan! I'm full of surprises, aren't I?
    To answer your question, no it/s not my first. I've got two finished novels, though one will never be published as I don't really like it all that much, and the other one still needs a lot of editing, so it's not ready for submission yet.
    However, I wrote a book on home education, which was published in 2009.
    As for how I fit my writing into my day… that's a tough one. The honest answer is, when I'm really on a roll with my writing, I simply let the house go to pot. I can't do everything, and when I'm absorbed in my writing I really am absorbed.
    There's nothing but the writing. There's nothing but the characters in my book, and I'm actually out of this world, and into the world that I created. No use talking to me when I'm there, I won't hear you. No use giving me food. I won't notice.
    And oh, you really should give writing a go. You don't need an overly big imagination to be able to write. I don't think I've got a very big imagination either, I just take everyday situations and blow them out of proportion. It's that easy.
    Good to hear you intend to go treasure hunting this week. You'll let me know how you fared, won't you?


  2. Susan says:

    I didn't know that you were writing a novel, is it your first? God knows I am tired just thinking about the things you fit into a day and now I find out about a novel! I know exactly what you mean about writing sometimes on computer and sometimes on paper – I find that when I sit at the keyboard words just flow and like you I obsess about punctuation etc. My cousin in the USA has started to write books for children and is trying to talk me into starting to write but I don't think I have it in me (lack of imagination I think). However, it would be lovely if I could persuade myself to have a go! I see another of my friends has liked your facebook page – this has become a bit of a mission for me! A total of 3 friends last time I looked. As far as your unplugging goes, I like that you are not rigid and hard on yourself when you bend the rules. Rules are meant to be broken! By the way, I have decided that this week I am going treasure hunting; just have to pick a day when I am feeling a bit energetic!


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