Living the Creative Writing Life

writing life

Are you living the writing life?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines lifestyle as “a particular way of living: the way a person lives or a group of people live.” defines it as “the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc., that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.”

A lifestyle is something you build for yourself from all the elements that make up your daily life: your thoughts, dreams, actions, routine, work, family, friends, food, hobbies, habits, and interests.

So the question arises: is creative writing a lifestyle?

Examining the Writing Life

The writing life is unique. Writers spend a lot of time alone, with only our words and ideas to keep us company. We’re immersed in word counts and submissions, manuscripts and notebooks. We work under tight deadlines and spend a lot of time worrying about typos. When other people are enjoying their favorite television shows or a day at the beach, we’re busy at our keyboards, doing our writerly work.

We’re idea seekers — always looking for the next topic, poem, or plot. Every moment is an experience that could lead to a masterpiece, so every moment is a masterpiece. We live as observers, taking in the world around us so we can share the best parts of it with our readers.

We’re communicators, using words to forge connections. It’s not enough to tell a story. We want to show readers what it was like to be there, to live it, even if it never really happened.

And the most ambitious writers, those who are driven to make creative writing not just a way of life but a career, must also look at themselves in a way few other people do. We must see ourselves as authors and learn how to brand and market ourselves. We have to be self-promoters, and we must be brave enough to put our work, which can be highly personal, out there for all the world to see.

The Creative Writing Life

The writing community is a tight one. Outside of literary circles, when two bookworms or writers bump into each other, they’re sure to forge an instant bond because such a person is a rare treasure. There may be some competition among writers, but most of what I’ve seen is goodwill and support.

We find ourselves outside of social norms. Our day jobs are simply a means to pay our bills. The real work happens early in the morning, late at night, and on weekends, when the rest of the world is playing. But our work is play. We writers breathe language. We engage in make believe. We search for stories that beg to be told. We’re concerned with words and images, grammar and structure, the historical and the fantastical, fact and fiction (and the difference between the two). We get excited over things that put regular people to sleep — a passionate voice, a riveting scene, a complex character. We delight in office supplies, stationery, and writing instruments, tools that other people see as mere necessities. And while we may be concerned with ordinary living, we live an extraordinary life.

All these things make up the life of a writer, the writing life.

How Do You Live?

Creative writing is an adventure, and it’s an adventure that is threaded throughout every minute of a writer’s day. That’s my experience, anyway. How does being a writer shape your daily life? Do you consider it a lifestyle? A hobby? A habit? Are you living the writing life?

Adventures in Writing The Complete Collection

About Melissa Donovan
Melissa Donovan is a website designer and copywriter. She writes fiction and poetry and is the founder and editor of Writing Forward, a blog packed with creative writing tips and ideas.


26 Responses to “Living the Creative Writing Life”

  1. Ami Mattison says:

    Yay for this article! I created my blog precisely because I wanted to write about “creating poetry and creating a life in poetry.” I definitely consider my writing to be a lifestyle. It’s what I do most hours of the day, and it’s the lens through which I view the world. It’s a passion that gives me purpose and direction.

    It’s super cool that you love performance poetry too! Do you have a favorite performer?

    Thanks for the article!

    • A favorite performer? Oh my. There are so many! Here are a few of my favorites: Taylor Mali, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Jack McCarthy, Andrea Gibson, Marty McConnell, the Mayhem Poets, and a lot more. What about you? Who are some of your favorites?

      • Ami Mattison says:

        I’d say D. Blair from Detroit does everything right. Meliza Banales is a real firecracker, telling real truth. Ryka Aoki De La Cruz will break your heart every time. Gypsee Yo is just amazing and gives performances that makes you want to jump out of your seat and start clapping. And Minton Sparks!…well, she’s part poet and part storyteller, and I consider her work to be THE example of southern gothic happening today. Minton is doing performance poetry like no one else in the business. That’s just my short list! ha!

  2. Cheryl Wright says:

    Writing is not only my lifestyle, it is my life, my breath and the lens through which I see all my circumstances. I can’t live my days without it. Love is filled with uncertainty without it. I can’t understand or manage negative feelings without writing. Writing is the string that binds me to life and helps me travel it’s meandering paths and often rugged terrain.

    • Cheryl, this is one of the most meaningful and inspiring comments I’ve ever read. Thank you so much for expressing and sharing your passion. Your words made my day 🙂

  3. Kristine says:

    I started writing poetry when I was fifteen years old, living at my folks house. Over the years, I have written and then let it go. This has been a routine I have broken lately. I have been doing 750 Words a Day daily now for almost 75 consecutive days. I also have a blog that I try to share daily or every few days. I have also started to add more content to a book I started writing years ago. Writing is definately a part of my life and it feels more comfortable with each passing day. So happy a friend referred me here.

    Happy New Year!

    • Wow, Kristine, that’s awesome! We recently had a guest post about writing 500 words a day. I think 750 is a doable daily word count for many writers. I love when writers explore different forms (blogging, poetry, prose), and I congratulate you on becoming so prolific. Keep it up, and happy new year!

  4. Marlon says:

    Creative writing as a lifestyle for me means I’m writing all day long. Even when I’m not physically putting pen down to paper, I like to make mental notes on what can happen next in my novel, the people I meet (as if I’m taking in their backstory), and connect the philosophical significance between interactions that only SEEM random and coincidence at first glance.

    I don’t know how to explain it, but even when I’m not a participant, I observe the way people interact with eachother and see how they relate. I don’t intentionally eavesdrop, but what I catch a glimpse of gives me a slight but impactful idea of how these people are around each other.

    Anyways my daily routine goes as follows: a cup of coffee while reading either fiction or writing guide in the morning, then a few beers as I write into the night. Everything in between is a haze in my mind of images that get creatively misshaped.

  5. Hi Melissa..

    This is one of the best article I have read so far. I wish I could write one without any grammatical errors but I could not. I love my creativity but the language always drop me down at my blog Few Miles. Please tell me how to improve my writing skills. I would love to write more and more from my pen…

    Someone is Special

    • I think almost all writers have to work on grammar. The best advice I can offer is this: get a good grammar/style resource (I recommend Chicago Manual of Style) and take the time to look up grammar questions. Often, when a grammar problem arises, if you spend five minutes checking a credible resource, you’ll learn the rule and it will be with you forever. As months and years go by, you accumulate more and more rules and eventually, you produce fewer grammatical errors in your work.

  6. TM Wright says:

    I really liked this article! Writing is an amazing thing in my life. It’s always been amazing to me how a few words can create a different universe to explore. Still, I have trouble making writing my lifestyle. It’s more of a habit, but I’d like to involve it more into my life. How can I do that?

    • Well, there are some ideas in this post about how to make writing more of a lifestyle. You can study it (read books on writing), set some goals (work toward a career in writing), and network with other writers (online is a great place to start). If writing is already a habit for you, I’d say you’re well on your way!

  7. Peter Minj says:

    I still have not made writing a lifestyle,but I am inching towards it. I keep a blog for prose/journal and another one for poetry.
    My job makes it difficult to devote more time to writing.But then,everyone is given 24hrs a day and you have to make time for doing what you love/like.Your posts are so inspiring for aspiring writers.Making writing a lifestyle will surely help towards a career in writing.

    • Thanks, Peter. Yes, it’s hard to make time for writing, but people who are truly committed to it always find a way:

      “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” — Author Unknown

  8. Desley says:

    How pleasurable reading people’s comments and your feedback Melissa. I learn so much. I write everyday unless I am travelling and even then I tend to jot down things in my notebook. I find I can get ideas from anything in nature, people and events. I am writing my second fiction novel now and the overseas tour I did recently gave me some ideas for one of my characters. I belong to a creative writing group and each week we take it in turns to run the class. It is so interesting how each of us comes up with a different lesson plan. Then of course how each story is so different when given a topic. I focus totally on writing when at the computer so it’s like a meditation. My mind is totally focused on what I’m writing at the time. I often wish I had no interruptions but then I’d become a recluse and although I love that, it is not healthy for me. I have my Art and Singing to enjoy each week too.

    • I love that you said writing at the computer is like a meditation. I couldn’t agree more (although there are definitely exceptions). It can be quite magical. Thanks so much for your kind words. Keep writing!

  9. Numanu Abubakar says:

    I feel it is good to take writing as a lifestyle, but I, personally took it as a hobby. The reason is that I got to understand that all the actions and activities, and other things I have as a lifestyle I used to hate it at some stages, but since I took writing as a hobby I never had a speck of hatred against it. So, I invite you all, before concluding try and understand your situations and feelings towards that particular item(s).

    Your post was a nice one indeed…

    • Thanks, Numanu. Writing is different for everyone. For some it’s a career. For others it’s a hobby. It can be a lifestyle and many other things. We each need to fit it into our lives in the way that works best for us as individuals.

  10. Marcy McKay says:

    Really lovely thoughts, Melissa. This is definitely a way of life for me. It’s interesting how life changes, though. This time last year, I was grieving the loss of my literary agent who quit the biz before we had a chance to sell my novel.

    I’ve since launched my own blog to help other writers, making new friends everyday and am happier than I’ve been writing-wise in a very long time. I’m wondering if her departure was a blessing in disguise because I’m taking charge of my career in such new ways.

    • Life does change over time, and many of the changes we experience will affect our writing, even the changes that are not directly or obviously connected to our writing. It does sound like your agent’s departure was a blessing in disguise. Taking charge of your own career is exciting!

  11. Eugene Coghill says:

    I sometimes feel guilty for even calling my self a writer even though I have one published book, and working on four others. By trade I am an over the road truck driver. (18 wheeler tractor trailer for Walmart)
    The 13 to 14 hour days leave me feeling so drained and exhausted that I rarely write on a daily basis with the discipline that is required for writers. I write what I can very sporadicly. Like right now it is 0111 in the morning and I need to sleep just to be safe when I get back behind the wheel at 0830.

    I do want to transition out of trucking, which means for me I am going to have to do far above and beyond to accomplish turning my writing into a new career. I just hope I survive the journey and that it will be worth the sacrifice.

    Eugene Coghill

    • I am a firm believer that if you write, you are a writer. That doesn’t mean you’re a professional writer or a published author, but a writer is anyone who writes. I find it odd when people argue that only people who make a living at it should get to call themselves writers. Then what are we supposed to call everyone else who writes?

      I do have a suggestion for you. Have you considered using a voice recorder while you’re driving? That would allow you to record your writing ideas and perhaps even get some “writing” done. There is also voice-to-text software that will transcribe the recordings for you, and while I’m sure it would require a lot of editing and cleanup, it seems like it might be a good way for you to get some writing done while you’re on the road.