Monday, 17 February 2014


How Do You Balance Writing With Everything Else In Your Life?
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti/

The other day I read an interview with US novelist Charles Sheehan-Miles. He has self-published 12 novels and writes 3000 words every single day "come what may". Here's the link to the interview.

In reply to the question "How do you get/stay in creative mode? he replied "Sometimes I struggle with this, because day-to-day life can interfere. As a self-employed indie author, I have to produce books. I can't take a break, or a vacation, or a sabbatical, because if I don't publish, I don't get paid. So I meditate, I day dream about my stories, I think about them when I'm going to sleep and when I'm waking up, and I set a goal of writing three thousand words a day no matter what."

I admire his dedication and his self-discipline, but I think I would find such self-denial difficult to achieve.
3000 words are a lot to write in a day - at least, I think so. I've occasionally managed that many - when everything is flowing, when words and sentences present themselves rather than having to be searched for. But more often it is probably between 700 and 1,700. So although 3000 words are do-able, for me they wouldn't be do-able day after day after day. To achieve that number of words daily I'd have to:

  • write without correcting, not use a thesaurus, not regularly check over what I'd written , not do any deleting, & etc. All this stuff takes time and fiddling about. (Although, actually, I do think it's a good way to write - just let it all come out, and do all the correcting, changing words and what have you when you've finished). 
  • go into machine mode
  • probably not eat for quite some time
  • avoid all distractions, such as taking out  the washing that I'd put in machine before I marched into writing room to commence day's work, and which I'd forgotten to ask husband to take out because of fierce concentration on forthcoming writing. Hence, washing would moulder in machine until one of us remembered it was there. There would be no answering the phone; no opening door to courier/postman who was bringing the urgent birthday present I'd bough online; no staring out of the window at the sky/trees/birds for inspiration or a simple re-charge; no getting up for walk around to avoid stiff knees ...

Charles Sheehan-Miles sounds remarkably hard-working and strong-willed, and I'm glad for him that he's had twelve books published. I'm sure he would say that his goal of 3000 words a day is partly responsible - we all know how important it is to set goals. But I think it's rather sad that he feels he can't take a break or a holiday. Unless of course, he's not too bothered about breaks and holidays, in which case, it doesn't matter.

He speaks about "day-to-day life" interfering.  But that's what life does, doesn't it, unless we writers lock ourselves away alone in a cell somewhere and throw away the key.

Writing isn't separate from my life, it's a precious part of it. But I don't want to let it be my life. I'm passionate about it, I love it, it fulfils me, but it's not the only thing in life that I love, am passionate about and fulfilled by.

"In order to write about life first you must live it."  Ernest Hemingway

"Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It's about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy." Stephen King, On Writing:  A Memoir of the Craft

And however you do it, however many words you write in a day, however many goals you achieve, or don't, however self-disciplined you are, or aren't - writing is utterly wonderful, and I love it!

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