They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s bullshit. Technically, I have my dream job. I love what I do. It fills me with satisfaction. I still work my ass off.
Whatever romantic image of being a writer most people have is wrong. It’s a lot of hours. It’s a lot of weird hours. Each of us is different and no matter how much I train my body, I still work better at night. I can sit at a desk for eight hours a day, five days a week and still not churn out as much as I will from about 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. And it isn’t just writing.
Of course, I don’t sit at a desk. I sit on a couch. I’m not here eight hours a day, it’s more like ten. It isn’t five days a week, it’s seven. When it isn’t flowing well, part of that ten hours a day is spent trying to stimulate my brain or tease out a scene. When it is flowing, it’s hard to take a break, even to get up and grab a sandwich or go to the restroom.
The process of writing is about more than just writing. I’m not a plotter or planner. I start with an idea and go from there. But there are times when “where does it go next” is an issue. Coaxing out “what comes next” can be a tedious process with minutes or even hours spent doing something mind-numbing while your brain plays out different scenarios in your head.
And my head is full of stuff. All the time. My last thoughts before going to sleep are “what happens next”. Sometimes, I forget what I thought up the night before, sometimes I don’t and the morning creativity process works a little faster. A mini-movie plays through my imagination often. If Person A does this, Person B reacts like this and Reaction D takes place, but let’s rewind and have Person A do this instead… How does Person B react? Like I said, it works like a movie, projected on the inside of my skull for my brain to see; I can rewind, fast-forward, pause, and skip bits.
I don’t have coworkers who stop at my cubicle to tell me about their evening’s misadventures. If I need help, I have to wait for someone to get done with their day job and hope they aren’t too tired to get to it that night. I talk to myself, sometimes out loud. It’s particularly bad when I’m alone in a car. But it also happens when I’m not alone. There are times I will go days and the only conversations that I’ll have are with my mother, my SO, and myself.
I love it, but it’s still work. There are times I’d rather be playing a video game or reading a book or hanging out with friends, but I’m writing, so I can’t.