This is actually an easy one to answer, for most writers in any case. Writers write to express a need, to communicate with others and earn recognition for that which they create, for writing is an art form, which is why English Literature degrees in Universities are offered as bachelors of Art.
A writer’s life is full of glamour and success. Well, let’s put a tombstone on that one: how glamorous is it if you spend a decade or more trying to attract an agent, during which time you accept multiple rejections because, most probably, your babe, all your hard work poured into that precious novel just isn’t quite up to that perfect standard yet to break through the agent’s fear barrier: “Oh no! He/ she is a new writer. What will my editor think? What will the marketing department have to say about it, the publisher, etc. etc….?”
And then, if you are one of those lucky few who manage to land that elusive agent, you still need to re-write your books and edit, edit, edit, proof read and edit some more. Sounds glamorous? How glamorous is it when you spend most of your waking hours plodding away on the computer tick! tick! ticking those keys trying to wring out of your heart and mind the best, most imaginative, most enthralling work you can. Can you feel the soul bleeding here?
And always bear in mind, only those very few writers, the ones who earn the David Gemmell or other such awards—in the case of fantasy—ever get noticed and earn recognition, or that rare creature, the author of that New York Times bestseller. The rest of us remain mere mortals, and are lucky if our relatives and closest friends recall that we actually write novels.
Writing is a social activity, and writers get to meet lots of interesting professionals and fans. Even though this is true, again to some extent, and depends entirely on a writer’s character and the effort they put in to achieve these perks of the profession, it is still hard and costly work. Firstly, to meet fans, you need to arrange the event, usually pay for a seller’s table, your travelling expenses (these can be quite steep if your readership is in another country). Also, running off to events like fantasycons—again, in the case of fantasy fiction writers—worldcons, book fairs, is a costly affair, though immensely enjoyable and gives the author a chance to keep up with current trends, meet with other like-minded people, and strike that deal they’ve been yearning for. Writing, the actual act itself is a very introvert task that’s best done in seclusion as there is only that one way for a writer to deliver a string of words that link together and make sense to the reader.
My personal experience at being a writer has revealed that I very seldom have time to follow a healthy lifestyle. I know that spending so many hours in front of a keyboard is detrimental to my health, steals quality time I could be spending with my wife and my children, forces me to sit in a chair for hours tending a growing waistline that I would much rather be slimming out in the gym. But, it’s my personal choice and I take it because I have no other choice. A writer must satisfy that need or die a very sad individual. And, believe me, that is a slow death I would not wish on my worst enemy. For a creative spirit needs to create, needs to get those thoughts on paper, out there for others to read, critique and hopefully fall in love with.
And last, but by all means the most important of all: a writer never has enough time on their hands. I work through the day, rising early before everyone else at home, when it’s still dark outside, I work throughout the day with small breaks for lunch, dinner, some precious time with the family, and back I am again until late at night on that creative chair, the one moulded through the years till it looks like an embossing of my buttocks!
Would I choose another lifestyle? No, not I, for all the reasons mentioned above.
Author Alex George on writing