‘I don’t have the time to write!’ We all say it. We are all terribly busy people.
I know writers who wrote when loved ones were in hospital. Personally I think that those situations are the ones where you absolutely-positively need to be let off the hook, but it impresses the hell out of me that they managed it.
I know writers who write when they have kids. I know writers who work full-time. I know writers who work full-time and have kids. I know writers who work full-time and have a variety of interests they pursue. I know writers with several jobs and kids and passions. And they write.
I also know a writer who is something absurd like six years late for a project that they’ve been paid for. I know people who spend years talking about the book they keep meaning to write once they have time. I know people who can explain to you in excruciating detail what happens in their book and why it’d make a great movie and how they’d market it – but haven’t written a word of it. I do not have an awful lot of respect for these people, particularly when they insist that yes, they are WRITERS. In capitals.
I am wary of the ‘Writer’ label because of this, because of these people who think that Writerliness is some kind of state of mind, some special condition that you have, something innate and magical. (On the flipside to this, though, Alison Wells has a great post on describing yourself as a Writer rather than an Aspiring Writer over here and it’s well worth reading.) Writerliness is something that you work on. Something that you nurture. Something that you make the time for.
We are all terribly busy people, but busy people need to prioritise things. If you insist on calling yourself a WRITER, remember that it’s not a label that you get at birth and get to hold on to, like a nationality or a star sign (we’ll leave aside political upheaval and wacky new-fangled astrological stuff for the moment). It’s like saying you’re an athlete when you haven’t been in training for years – even a natural affinity for something isn’t going to get you all of the way there.
Being A Writer does not mean seeing the world in a special fuzzy insightful amazing way. It may mean that, for many people, but it also means actually getting those special fuzzy insightful amazing thoughts down on paper. If you ‘just don’t have the time to write’, but insist on your special Writerly status . . . well. Just don’t start up a conversation with me, okay? It gets a little tiresome.