Living the Creative 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.”
Dictionary.com 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?