Writing Nowadays–The Writer’s Hazard

Steven Harper PiziksLast week I was off from work.  It was very nice not to get up at 5:45 and work all day, then come home and do household chores, find time to run, cook supper, and then write.

Instead I got to write during the day. On vacation.

When you’re on vacation as a writer, you’re never really on vacation.  You’re always thinking about this plot or that character.  It never goes away, even on days when you say, “Today I’m not writing.”

A great many writers wear this like a badge of honor, an “I’m always at work” kind of thing designed to deflect comments from people who think that writing somehow isn’t work.  I’ve done it quite a lot myself.

But honestly, I wish I could get it to stop.  I wish I could shut my writing off for a while and give myself a real break from it.  But after 30 years of training myself to write every day, I find I can’t.  There are times when I NEED to shut my writing off.  I need the rest.  I need to get away from it.  My brain won’t listen, though, and it becomes tiring.  I would like to enjoy a week, or even a day, when I don’t think about writing at all.  And yet, story ideas or thoughts about characters push their way in.

In fact, the only time writing isn’t far from my mind is when I’m solving problems in a locked room game or when I’m doing things with my husband that he wouldn’t appreciate me detailing here.  Even when I watch a movie or TV show, I’m looking at the writing.

It’s a hazard of the profession, I think.  Other professions have their own hazards, of course.  Police officers can’t unsee people breaking the law even when they’re off duty.  The neighbors are forever asking nurses or doctors for medical help.  Musicians have a hard time enjoying music for its own sake.  This one is the writer’s hazard.

–Steven Harper Piziks

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Writing Nowadays–The Writer’s Hazard — 5 Comments

  1. I live with and among musicians, many of them the very best currently alive: when the music is good, you bet they enjoy it for its own sake. That’s the point of music for their sort of musician.

  2. I have been very ‘hot’ lately, and writing like the wind. In the past two years I have written six novels. I told myself that as long as the Muse was in a chatty mood I ought to go with it. But after writing obsessively for so long I have to stop, at least for a while. At minimum, I ought to market these things! So I told the Muse to take a hike, that this year I would not write a book, no thanks. Instead I signed up to be a judge for the Philip K. Dick award, which should force me to read instead of write.

  3. I suppose I shouldn’t be a supercilious pain here and admonish everyone to cherish this state of being, because it’s a truly terrifying thing when the words simply stop (sometimes mid-sentence), and we can never be certain when or if they will start up again.

    And like that old saw about having been both rich and poor, and preferring the former, I’d rather be living on literary overdrive than on empty, especially at this stage of the game.