Thursday, June 13, 2019

So What Do Writers Do All Day? Not Write, Obviously.

I'm not a fan of accounts of how writers spend their days. This is totally because I once read an article in which a poet described his typical day. It involved reading the paper, going for a walk, and taking a nap. Maybe with his wife. I remember thinking something along the lines of, Please, God, no.

Nonetheless, I had an interesting day on Monday, one that is not representative of anything in particular but one that in its very lack of representation represents something, even if I'm not sure what.


Frittered this away, the whole stinking thing. That includes a mile and a half walk. So...yikes.


This is where the interesting part starts. I need to make some significant changes in a character in an adult book I've been working on. I wanted to go over my research, some of which involved a book I bought specifically for this project...and read...a number of years ago. So I spent the afternoon turning the office upside down and going over the living room bookshelves over and over again looking for it.

No luck. At first, I couldn't even remember the name of the thing and consider it quite an achievement that I was able to work that out with some Internet research.  My fear is that I decided I was through with it and tossed it while I was starting an office clean-out that I never finished.

This book definitely had an impact on what I'm doing with my book, and, yet, I cannot find any notes I took, either on paper or on my computer. Yes, my research skills are not what you'd call skills.

Something good came out of this experience. I found a bookend that's been missing for six months or so. It was where you'd expect it to be, on a shelf between a couple of books. This gives me hope that God's Daughters will show up someday, too. Along with my mother's checkbook and a heating pad that are also lost.


So on Monday evening, I went to my NESCBWI writers' group, the first meeting I've made in a year. Somebody got sick in May, 2018, and I missed some time for that. Then I was working on an adult book and wouldn't have anything to bring to the meeting so I didn't go while that was going on. Someone got sick again in January, 2019, so I stayed away for that. I wasn't enthusiastic about going this week, because I'm still working on an adult book, so I don't have anything to read at the group. Also, I'm aware through group e-mails I've been receiving that there are a lot of new group members. What if they were doing things differently? And, you know, going to these things means getting home around 9:00, which is the middle of the freaking night.

I was not up for this, at all, but I keep reading that you need social connections or your mind goes to pieces, so that is, absolutely, the reason I changed my clothes and dragged myself to that group meeting.

To make a long story short, I had a good time, got some marketing ideas, and finished the evening drinking with friends in the rain by the side of the road afterwards. I was looking forward to going back before I'd even left.

What's The Point, Gail?

It turns out, my Monday does represent something. What it represents is the amount of time writers can spend on writer-related activity without actually writing. This is not an original observation. The point has been made before, that writers can spend a lot of time "working" without writing.

Speaking of points, another interesting one is that in spite of the loss of my morning, I felt very good about Monday. Though, remember, I didn't do any writing.


tanita✿davis said...

Someone once put it to me that writers do a great deal of "industry community activities." Researching something and sharing it with others, organizing stuff for your writing group, reading other people's work, critiquing other people's manuscripts, reading industry-related magazines and research, etc. -- Honestly, it's all good, because it's all part of the job.

It's when you get lost on Twitter that it becomes an issue.

Gail Gauthier said...

Hey, I have found some good writer stuff on Twitter.

I think the insistence that writers should write every day should be changed to "do something work-related every day." The write-every-day thing is a lot of pressure, and I think many people find it discouraging. If they can't make time to write every day, they feel they aren't real writers and give up.

But if on days when you can't write, you can do some research...of any kind...prep for writers' group, read a craft article, develop a character, you're staying in the game because, as you said, it's all part of the job.