Monday, May 16, 2011

The Myth of the Consumed Artist

Perhaps my mothering antennae is a bit too fine-tuned, but it seems there's a lot of poor advice on writing blogs about succeeding as a novelist.

The advice goes something like this: If you want to succeed, write day and night to the exclusion of everything else in your life.

There's no question that art can become all-consuming. There are times when you need to put everything else aside and perfect your craft. But not every day. Not all the time, to the exclusion of your loved ones and your health.

If you're young and you're planning a career as a novelist, that's wonderful. Work hard, take good advice with grace, and ignore older writers who tell you that you can't make it in this game unless you're willing to work 24/7. Perhaps they made it into the big leagues by shutting out loved ones and the sheer joy of everyday living. For all you know, they harbor silent regret about the wedding missed, the sunlight never felt, and the children that grew to adulthood while the absent parent went on yet another book tour.

How will you write with depth and deep emotion if you're too bleary-eyed to form a coherent thought? How will you render the world in a compelling fashion if you never stroll in the park and simply think, or take the time to hear the heart-songs of the people you meet every day?

Don't burn yourself out, baby. Live your life and enjoy every moment. You'll have far more material for your next WIP than if you write until dawn fueled by caffeine.


  1. Christine, Part of being a good writer is to read-read-read. Pick up books of a different genre than what you write. It keeps you up on the trends. Next, enjoy what you do or it isn't worth your time. Joyce

    1. I couldn't agree more, Joyce. Reading outside one's own genre offers examples of different writing techniques. Of course, dedicated scribes also need to rest, recharge, regroup. A stroll in the park or eight hours of sleep are also critical components of the writing life.

      Many thanks for reading along.