We like the idea of an artist destroyed by their talent. It’s part of the cultural myth we build up around art and writing, designed to move the conversation away from it being work one expects to be compensated for, much like conversations about muses and inspiration and creativity as a powerful force.
It leads too all sorts of bad habits. The biggest of which is the decision that a artists needs to be a artists twenty-four-seven. To stop producing, for whatever reason, is a sign that you’re not truly talented and instead just engaging in hack work. This is why the YOU MUST WRITE EVERY DAY crowd are so loud and so prevalent among writing advice.
I’m thinking about this today, after reading Laura Vanderkam’s post about the writing life and playing the long game (two topics pretty near and dear to my heart):
As for making money while writing books, I have never believed that book writing needs to be all-consuming. It wasn’t for Toni Morrison, writing The Bluest Eye at night after her kids went to bed, and let’s face it, we’re not likely to produce anything like The Bluest Eye no matter how much time we spend writing. Books are projects like any other. You can carve out time to seek out high-paying but not-terribly-demanding work to pay the bills while you work on the book. Many writers do things like writing website copy for businesses, press releases, etc.. Incidentally, you can make time for the rest of your life too. I’m always amused by the lines in book acknowledgements in which authors (generally, male authors) thank their families for putting up with all their missed dinners. Not only am I not missing dinner, I’m generally cooking it. –
Personally, I’m starting to embrace the idea of the weekend. I “take Sundays off” by aiming to produce 100 words, maximum, before I step away from the computer. It gives me time to do other things.