If you have other things in your life—family, friends, good productive day work—these can interact with your writing and the sum will be all the richer.
Want to write better? Get a day job. Or sign up for a volunteer gig. Just get out of the house and do something! I’m not kidding.
Having all day to write seems to be every writer’s dream. When I speak, writers tell me that they would be more productive if only they didn’t have to go to work, take care of their kids, or do the laundry. Phooey! Writers who have all day to write simply have more time to procrastinate and less stuff to write about.
Having a life can make you a better writer. Listen to what dentist and novelist Alaa al Aswany has to say about why he still practices dentistry:
“Society is a living organism and you must keep up. That’s why I still practise, though for only two days a week. I will never close the clinic. The clinic is my window. I open it to see what is happening in the street. You can’t get disconnected from the street, as a writer; that’s a common mistake. You can be too easily welcomed every night by the richest people and the most influential. It is very dangerous because it is that relationship with the street that made you successful in the first place.”
—Alaa al Aswany, novelist and dentist, in The Guardian
History proves that some of our best and most prolific writers also had day jobs. William Carlos Williams was a physician. Anthony Trollope was a post office inspector. Carol Shields raised five children. John Dunning is a bookseller. The poet William Stafford worked as a professor at Lewis & Clark College. He rose early every morning to write. This morning time proved fruitful for Stafford. Throughout his lifetime, he amassed 20,000 consecutive daily pages, most containing a daily poem.
So there you have it writers! Don’t worry if you don’t have all the time in the world to write. Your interaction with the world matters, too. The time you spend away from your writing just might fuel some of your most brilliant work!
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