Friday, August 20, 2010

Why Do Writers Write?

I sit here, picking away gobs of spray insulation foam on my arm (my first attempt), and seriously contemplating my writer's day.

Who knew this stuff would come back at you, scrolling in puffy strings everywhere?

Okay, I digress. What can I say? I'm a virgin-insulation sprayer. That was yesterday. Messy, but finished. Yesterday, I also edited gobs. So yesterday was Gobs Day.

Today, I'm preparing for the first of September, ready to launch my babies out into the world. These last two weeks before September and/or to Labor Day are busy for everyone. Students are back to school, homeowners are planning fall fix-up, and writers are really working hard.

With Missouri's extreme heat this summer, I've hit the keyboard during the afternoon, modifying my usual early a.m.s to the heat.

Summer is really busy as you can see on my blog My Jam Jar. But with a pretty busy family, there's always lots to do. I've dropped off from the track a little as writers do when they're intensely into projects. But I'm creeping back into gear, now that my rough draft is finished.

In touching base with other authors, the discussion came up about Writing For $ vs. The Love of Writing. Everyone has different takes, and I've get read an article on Guide to Literary Agents blog (really good blog) BTW, about writers income, and living off it.

I've been doing that for a number of years, after leaving a day job, but also writing for 2 publishers. Writing is my only income, and according to this article, the percentage of those writers may be as low as 1%. I'd heard 2% earlier.

I've seen Writing listed in the Hobby Sections of online communities. Really? Say it isn't so.

Most writers usually have some other source of income, either through spouse, retirement, investments, day-jobs, etc. I have a big problem with that label as we work darn hard out here. In fact, most writers I know are working at multiple tasks, day-jobs, various writing projects, and their own specialties.

Tip: Writing for sucess has specific personality elements. One is regimentation and ability to prioritize. The multiple-taskers above do know how to handle a calendar with life and writing deadlines, and they know how to prioritize. One writer, a teacher, spoke of writing around the corners of his life. I think that says it well for those with so-called day-jobs.

Prioritizing your writing projects isn't easy. Writers who complete their mss, edits, whatever, usually step back to catch up with life for a time. Then, they're back at the keyboard, brainstorming new proposals, working on platforms/PR, whatever. Because? It's necessary to be brewing new stories all the time, keeping the creative flow moving along. I keep a Toy Box of story ideas, when one drops in on me and just dipping into that plasters me with ideas. I think most writers have more stories in them, then they can actually write in their lifetimes.

Sometimes that's a sluggish situation, such as one writer I recently spoke with, has different family situations that are absorbing her physical and mental energy. Don't we all? There are just times when the Big Bird of Paradise drops one on you and you have to mop up the best you can.

We are different, my writer-friend and I, because when I'm deeply troubled, I can take a mini-vacation by dropping into my stories--taking a little mental health break. She cannot, and there's nothing wrong with that. But it is important, if not dealing with a money/career-making deadline, that we are human, flesh and blood and we need what we need to survive. Every writer is different in that aspect.

Recently, I've just stepped off the writing Boardwalk (didn't meet Snooki, thank goodness) and worked on different projects. I needed to try new fields, and old. "Mining" we call it. I write because I need to, because it's a part of me, my daily routine, my feel-good time. I miss it, when life (and home fix-up) pops in, eating up my creative time.

But then, I'm a scheduled writer, with regular hours. Make the coffee, check the e-mail and settle in with my characters. (Incidentally, they only come to my PC and don't like travel.) Another writer may write in bursts, when "they feel the muse", but that's not for me. I'm behind on updating my blogs now, and my website. But I'll get there, because I'm really into my stories now and don't want to leave my mental creative nest.

But as I've said, all writers are different in their goals, needs and financial situation. My first goal was just to get my name on one book. That was almost 70 books ago and a really gratifying career that I'm still enjoying.

So, if you are a writer, ask yourself, why you write and how dedicated you are, and what you are willing to sacrifice. I need to do this on a poll, I guess, but I'd rather get back to my stories.