Sometime in the last few months, I saw a blog post/article asking a variation of How do writers keep working when they aren't making sales? I thought it was an excellent question. Though I'm sorry to say that I can't find the piece of writing I'm referring to, my recollection is that the answer was a little on the warm and fuzzy side, something like "we all deserve to write, whatever the outcome." (7/16/14. She actually said, "You don’t have to justify being a writer. You don’t have to justify being you.") Though that's certainly true, I'm not very warm and fuzzy. Plus, I think trying to continue writing without the traditional reward of publication and payment has an impact on time, which is our business here.
The Time Problem
- How Others Perceive Us. In our culture, we perceive people who aren't getting paid for their labor as not working. Ask any homemaker or stay-at-home parent. When we are perceived as not working, we are perceived as being available during our work time. We are available for lengthy personal calls. We are available for lunch. We are available for shopping, for get-togethers, for athletic events. The belief that we don't work can drain away our work time.
- How We Perceive Us. Going long periods of time without the feedback of a sale is discouraging, just as it is discouraging to be applying for jobs and not getting them. For writers who are part of a family and not generating any other income, it's easy to start feeling that life would be better for those around us, and maybe for us, too, if we got a job that made some real money. For writers who have day jobs, maintaining a writing practice that is "just" a practice can be exhausting. What are we giving up to do it? Friends? Creative and engaging volunteer work? Yoga class? Book Club? Studying that foreign language/philosophy? Cooking decent meals? Keeping on, keeping on can drain away our personal time.