Caring for Numero Uno

Building the momentum needed for a financially stable writing career takes a long time, a great deal of work, and an exceptional bit of luck. While some writers have the good fortune of being married to a spouse who is willing and able to support them, most of us face the added strain of balancing two careers, at least initially. I can tell you from personal experience that working a nine to five job and then coming home to work on a story keeps you exceptionally busy. And that’s before you even account for the commitments of everyday life. But truth be told, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We writers often become so obsessed in the progress of our stories and careers that we forget to devote the time and attention needed to maintain the other areas of our life. Meeting my deadlines won’t matter if I collapse from exhaustion, if the power gets turned off in my house because I forgot my payments, or if I don’t have any food in the fridge because I neglected the grocery shopping. Case and point, I’ve recently pushed myself so hard between travel, my engineering career, and preparing to write a new book that I made myself physically ill. That sickness has cost me nearly a week in recovery time, during which I’ve been unable to work. I need to remind myself that living is a marathon, not a sprint.

However, illness and exhaustion isn’t the worst case scenario by far. What really scares me is the idea that I may someday look up from a manuscript to find that I’ve damaged my relationships with friends and family. The real tragedy is that for some, those schisms are permanent. I’ve met a few authors who talk about their early career with a profound sense of regret. Sure, they wrote a bunch of books and propelled their name and thoughts into the world, but they found that they had lost the things that are truly important to them. Writers need friends and family who are understanding and supportive, but they also must never take those relationships for granted.

Writing books requires dedication, passion, and a little bit of obsession. In its essence, writing is an expression of life, the sharing of knowledge, experience, and empathy between two strangers. If the author doesn’t live outside the confines of the manuscript, they will eventually run out of self to pour into their work. Therefore, it is necessary for a writer to develop a sense of when it is time to step back from the manuscript and address their physical, social, and spiritual needs.


4 Responses

  1. Lee French says:

    I just had to take a week of “vacation” because a slew of events and deadlines all took way more out of me than I expected. My brain went on strike and demanded happyfuntimeplaysilly before continuing to allow me to work. A week full of gaming and long walks later, I’m back in fine form.

    It’s something I’ll remember for the next time I have many events in a row.

  2. Sam Knight says:

    You left out mention of the poor souls who are so focused on promoting themselves they don’t realize they are actually alienating themselves from potential fans and other people in the industry who could possibly help them.

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