The Writer’s Life and Reality

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I blogged, mostly because I’ve spent the majority of the summer running around trying to keep up with my kids and it got me to thinking about the writer’s life and what I thought it would be vs. what it actually is.

Just before I started writing regularly, when I was first feeling those literary flickers, I imagined that the writing life was a romantic one. I pictured myself draped in colorful scarfs sipping coffee in a trendy coffee shop, rain falling gently in the background, while I cuddled up with my journal and leisurely wrote literary masterpieces. I imagined lengthy mornings brainstorming one brilliant idea after another. I imagined long afternoons spent developing my characters. I imagined, really, a lifestyle that doesn’t really exist, not for me, or for any other working writer I know.

Jenny Lundquist - Seeing Cinderella - book and journal

Over the last couple months, this is what my writing life has actually looked like:

I wake up early and make a feeble attempt to get in a little writing time, but the light in my office wakes up one or both of my boys, who want to be cuddled, or want breakfast, or simply want to hang out with me. After the morning routine is over, I sneak away to do a little more work on my manuscript, but I quickly have to put it aside to mediate a fight between the boys, who have decided to launch WWIII in our living room. Once everyone is happy and not crying, I sneak back to my manuscript. I read the words I typed last, squint at them and scratch my head, as they seem to lack certain things that are necessary in novels, coherency being one of them. Then I shrug and promise myself I’ll fix it in the next draft, and move on.

I get a little more writing done and then it’s time to move on to our afternoon activities. After we return, wet, dirty, dripping or sunburned from wherever we’ve gone, I make another stab at getting in my word count, wishing the whole time I could take a nap, until I’m pulled away to mediate another fight. When I finally return to my computer, this time I don’t even bother looking at the last words I wrote, even though I left off in the middle of a sentence, and I try to pound out as many words as I can.

Soon it’s time to start on the dinner/dishes/ nighttime activities/showers/stories routine. After my kids go to bed, I look around at my peaceful yet completely dirty house and realize that now would be the perfect time to write (or clean), if I wasn’t already completely exhausted. Then I fall into bed with a novel, telling myself that by reading and studying someone else’s writing, I’m actually “honing my craft.” Then I promise myself I’ll do better the next day.

That is what a real writing life looks like, and as crazy and tiring as it can be, I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. I had intended on finishing my current WIP by September 1st, but what can I say, my real life got in the way of my writing life. And I’m okay with that.

Now that the summer is over and my kids have gone back to school, I’m planning all the ways to finally finish my WIP and enjoy the fall.

For those of you who had summer projects (writing or otherwise), were you able to finish them?

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9 Responses to The Writer’s Life and Reality

  1. I completely scale back my expectations for summer. I get some time in the morning but after a day with my kids I’m usually too tired at night to do anything but read. But I try and read a lot over the summer and in the evening. I agree, there’s no romance in it, just work! Fun work. 🙂

  2. Heidi says:

    I definitely had a goal of getting illustrations done by the end of July. Then the craziness of August hit and my new goal is the end of September. 🙂 It’s good to know “professional” writers have the same problems that “aspiring” writers (I) do.

  3. I think the grass always look so green in other professions, yet we all struggle with the same things. When it comes down to it, there is a grind to any career. Keep going strong. I love your writing!

  4. I’m amazed you can get words on the page (coherent or not) with little ones at home during the summer. I applaud your attempts and can’t wait to read your next book!

  5. googlepo says:

    Great article . Will definitely apply it to my blog.Thanks.

  6. I enjoyed this! Well done!