The Endless Writing Retreat We’ll Never Get

It’s not the dream life we expected, but it’s not a nightmare, either.

When I was younger, I used to picture what I figured being a writer must have been like. I imagined being able to sit in a big room in my house, in complete silence, totally immersed in a story from sunrise until sunset. Just nonstop writing all the time. The dream life.

It’s so strange to me, thinking back to that, realizing there was a point in time when I really did believe all writers had to do was write all day, every day. No stress. No distractions. Just storytelling. Freedom. Bliss.

It’s not that writing, as an adult, is terrible. It’s the coolest job in the world.

But it’s very hard to comprehend, as a non-adult, that while many people are in fact lucky enough to get to write as their day job, thy don’t get to “just write.” It’s not a write all day, party all night kind of life. At least, not for most of us.

I think we get it into our heads that when we take on the responsibility of putting words to paper for a living, it’s like a relaxing, refreshing writing retreat that never ends.

If only.

When you decide to “be a writer,” a new space does not open up in your life to accommodate for the hundreds upon hundreds of hours you’re going to have to spend sitting at your computer (or in front of a notebook).

Many new writers like to think that’s what will happen. But it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Because while you’re 100 percent responsible for your writing time — however many hours you end up dedicating to your words each day — you’re also responsible for, well, everything else. Your family, if you have one. Your friends, if you want to keep them. Your pets, if you want them to love you back. And all the unpredictable, often undesirable things that come along with what the internet likes to call ‘adulting.”

Writing is stressful enough. But at some point, you come to the realization that your life will not always revolve around your writing. Rather, you have to figure out how to make it fit into the small, rarely consistent spaces each day allows.

You have to either find those pockets of time or create them. And then you have to take things another step further still, and make sure you’re actually using them to do the most (and best) work you possibly can.

Writing is tough. Not just the actual word-making, but figuring out how to make it happen when life outside of writing is, well, a lot.

Don’t worry. This isn’t easy for any of us.

Some of us just stumble around, writing at odd hours, dragging our fingers across our keyboards, swallowing caffeine, struggling, until we either figure it out or the chaos ends up creating something other people are actually interested in reading.

Whatever works, I guess.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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3 thoughts on “The Endless Writing Retreat We’ll Never Get

  1. Live as a writer is hard but also rewarding. Write for yourself first and foremost that’s what I say and don’t worry about people think of what you’re writing. No one can criticise something if they have never read it.

    1. I don’t think that’s entirely true. Plenty of people criticize things without reading them, especially online. That’s why even the best writers still have a hard time remembering that, most of the time, “meanness” is not personal.

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