'Writers Write' and other myths...

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

‘Writers Write’. As a writer myself, I see this quote everywhere. On my Pinterest boards, on Facebook, on writing forums… It seems to be the battle cry of those who easily find time to write. So what about the rest of us. 

I was once in a writing group with a woman who was not shy about telling us that her husband worked so that she didn’t have to and thanks to this arrangement, she had all of the time in the world to write. Now, I am not knocking her in any way, you understand. In fact, she went on to sell her first novel in a ground-breaking deal and is now surrounded in fortune and fame. It is awesome if you can pull it off.

I come from a different setting. I work full—time plus. Part of the reason is that I do truly love my ‘day job’, part of it is that I have bills and love shopping (shoes and books are my weakness), and part of it is because my husband is not the type to ‘support me’ financially—we are a very ‘my money is my money’ kind of family. Even though I am often told how sad that last one is, I like my marriage just as it is. If you ever were in a relationship where you were the grown-up and had to support them, you’d understand.

Anyway, back to the point. ‘Writers Write’. God, how I hate this phrase. I work 40+ hours per week, volunteer a further 4-6 hours, have an 8 year old with special needs and a 3 year old who is way too big for her britches, and my husband works away for 3-5 days per week. So, many nights go by and guess what? That’s right. I didn’t write. 

Last night, for example, by the time I had finished my housework, caught up on work emails (I have been working from home a lot this week), fed the kids, went to coach, and then got both kids to bed… it was 2330. At that point, I don’t believe I could string together two sentences, let alone write the 2700+ words I need to get catch up on NaNoWriMo.

So, does the fact that many, if not most, weeks go by and I find that I have not written much at all because I couldn’t find the time mean that I am not a writer? I’m going to say no. And right now I don’t care what famous writer (who clearly has made more money writing than I have and is definitely more an expert) says that ‘Writers Write’. 

To me, saying this is just as damaging to new and struggling writers as the old ‘if you really wanted to write you would find the time’ line. Do you know what? I spent years of my life beating myself up (and I still occasionally do) because I could not ‘find’ the time to write with a full time job, university, kids… I thought ‘I wasn’t really a writer’; ‘I didn’t have what it takes’, and a whole host of other lies which brought me down. 

Now, I prefer to think that the mere fact that I am composing this post counts as me being a writer. The fact that I have written anything (I am around 12k words into NaNo when I should be closer to 26K) with my other responsibilities taking priority makes me a writer. I write. Even if it is only a few thousand words a week. Even if it was only a few hundred. I write.

And you do, too. If you are buried in ‘real life’ and only find time for a page here or there, you are still a writer. Yes, we both may need to step up our word count if we have any hope of making this writing lark a full-time thing, but we shouldn’t feel like less of a writer because we aren’t churning out a manuscript every three months, or even every year. We are writers, even when we aren’t writing.

And we don’t need a quote, a word count, or an expert to validate that.

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