As artists, we writers tend to be a bit addictive. There are few things more wonderful than the joy and suffering of creation, and it feels so nice to be able to sit down and write to our heart’s content. Hours can fly by in a heartbeat, and before you know it, you’ve got a pounding headache, tired eyes, a body wired from too much caffeine, but three or four chapters done. We want to do it as much as we can, so every spare moment is spent in the pursuit of writing.
But that’s a mistake!
If you’re always writing, you’re never learning, living, reading, or networking–four of the key ingredients to being a writer. You need to spend time:
Learning — This is essential for your career as a writer. If you never study how to write better, subject your work to the cruel mercies of critiquers, or work on sharpening your skills, you’ll never improve.
Living — Your work has to draw on real life experience in some way or another, but how much experience can you get from behind a desk?
Reading — Without spending time reading, you will NEVER improve your skills. Reading helps you to see what other authors are doing right, as well as what they are doing wrong.
Networking — You cannot do well if you treat your work as an island. You have to reach out to others, interact, offer help and advice, and basically market yourself as a writer.
But you can’t be doing these things all the time either! If you never take time off, your poor brain is going to explode from all of the stress and worries of writing, reading, living, working, marketing, and so on. You can’t let your family and friends suffer as a result of your passion.
How can you put feet to this?
In the New Year, I’m going to back to work on January 5th. I’ll get that solid 1 hour per day to work, hopefully five (sometimes six) days per week. Here’s how I’m going to divide it up:
Monday, Friday, and Saturday: Writing Time
Tuesday and Thursday: Networking/Marketing Time
Wednesday: Study/Critiquing/Beta Reading Time
Of course, I’ll try to fit in writing every day, but at least by having this division, I can make sure that everything that needs to get done does get done. It’s by no means a perfect system, but we’ve got to start somewhere.
And, of course, I will be taking time off from the 24th of December to the 4th of January. That is a solid 10 days to spend with the family, friends, and recovering from the post-turkey food coma. Hopefully, when I emerge from my vacations, I’ll have a few chapters of Book 2 under my belt.
I will post a few book reviews between now and Monday the 5th, as I have a long list to get through. To all of my friends who are taking the holiday off, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! See you in 2015…