Career may be a misnomer when you are writer working on getting published. Especially, if you have an actual career that you’re excited about and pays the bills. Still, if you call yourself writer you are in it for the long haul. You write in the wee hours of the morning or complete a page before turning off the lights at night –a process you repeat for years, sometimes tens of years. How do you sustain your writing career? How do you keep the fire (sometimes, it feels like a tiny spark) going through work crises, family emergencies, changing boyfriends and switching apartments?
For me, it’s important to keep the inner child alive. Whether reading a historical biography or taking a nature hike, it’s vital to nourish and enrich my inner life. Having said that, it’s just as important to make sure we don’t isolate ourselves. It’s easy when writing to say that weekdays are for work and weekends are for writing. It’s easy to turn down camping trips and museum visits because your weekend is your time to write. For me, though, tuning out the world works only for a short while. I have to live in it, see it and interact with it to produce work that feels authentic. So I take time out during some weekends so that I can continue to grow the writer in me. It’s amazing how much more focused I am when I return.
Finally, the most important thing I can do for my writing career is remaining a student. I try to hone my craft through workshops, critique groups and craft days. I take time off from my WIP to learn and practice at a weekend workshop or start a new story during NaNoWriMo (beginning in just a few short weeks!).
All of this may mean that it takes me three to four years to finish my manuscript but as long as I enjoy the process and become a better writer it’s time that is worth investing. I look at my writing career as a marathon and not a sprint. I’ve chosen to think long term. Do you feel the same way? What works for you?