Developing a Writer’s Life (NWPR #3)
Today, I want to talk about writers’ habits. I’ve read a lot of advice that suggests that you need to schedule regular time, every day, to write. This is aided if you have a specific location that is just for writing.
For me, this is not bad advice, but it is nigh impossible to follow, or at least, it has been. I am not a person who lives by schedules. Ask anyone I was in college with, and they’ll tell you I was often late, or missing altogether, from studies. I stayed up entirely too late at night. I was your quintessentially poor student. How did this happen? Probably a lot of it stems from some insecurities about success. My college days were a “one-eighty” from primary and secondary school (ah yes, we’re going back a ways now). In high school, I was top of my class and involved in tons of activities. I wasn’t always completely on-top of my homework, but I generally got the job done, and graduated with honors.
So what happened? Yes, I have asked myself this question quite often. Maybe I burned out early. I certainly rested on my laurels. I didn’t graduate from university, and I don’t see a way back, now (although, I haven’t given up the goal of completing my degree). Needless to say, employment opportunities are a bit sparse for a person in my position.
In more recent years, I’ve worked to develop a “more” scheduled lifestyle, at least endeavoring to sleep at appropriate times. I try to notice when things need doing, and do them. But my overarching problem exists. And I’ve repeatedly come to the conclusion that this problem is — drum-roll please — I don’t finish what I start. This quality is so ingrained, that I haven’t “finished” solving the problem (actually, I suppose this is more of what Al Watt would call “dilemma.”). I doubt there is any cut-and-dried answer, but the writer’s advice is a solid start.
Create a schedule, and define a location to work in. And stick to it, and do it. I’ve been under the impression that it takes at least three weeks of concerted effort to build a new habit. I haven’t made it this far yet. “Real life” interrupts, and I’m not quite strong enough to fight back for my writer’s life. But I’m working on it.
Maybe I won’t manage to write the way so many advise. Maybe I’ll have to make up my own rules as I go along (as, I suspect, most of us have to do). Developing a writer’s life runs parallel to developing a novel’s story. I’m revising my own personal narration, in order to become the author I want to be. I can no longer rest on my laurels, nor can I wallow in my defeats. I can only move forward with this day, and strive to live a writer’s life long enough that it becomes the habit and the way.