Overworking without noticing it

After speaking to several writer friends, we all seem to in one way or another come to the same conclusion. As writers, we are always working throughout the day, to one degree or another. A writer may only be working 8-10 billable hours a day, but when you take into account the brainstorming, people watching, reading works by other writers, self publicity work, etc. you begin to see writing more as a lifestyle than a career choice.


Line art representation of a Quill

Photo credit: Wikipedia

For me this is both a blessing and a curse. I love what I do, and each day drive harder to be earning enough to exclusively write. I say it like this because I already write full time, even though I am not earning a living wage from it just yet. Every aspect of my writing life, taken in context, brings joy and fulfillment.


At the same time though, I am distracted by my work. It is somewhat frustrating to be engaged in conversation with someone and allow your mind to drift to the character you are developing, or to be dining out with your significant other and be eying the setting for a scene rather than enjoying their company. I begin to worry about myself when I find it easy to get lost in my work and difficult to focus on the other joys in my life.


Thus far in my writing journey, the hardest lesson I have had to learn is how to live the writing life without it totally running my life. I am working on disciplining myself to really leave the work at the desk and enjoy things with no eye, or mind, to writing now and again.


To all you other writers out there, how do you separate “writer’s brain” from the day to day functioning of being yourself?


4 thoughts on “Overworking without noticing it

  1. I’m not sure I do separate the two entities… and to that end I don’t actually know if they are separate. As you allude to, it permeates every aspect of your day, and I don’t know when I’m not ‘on’, for want of a better phrase.

  2. I’d suggest that the ability to draw inspiration from your surroundings is a very positive thing indeed. Let’s say that you’re enjoying a meal in tasteful-yet-cheap Italian restaurant. One week later, you’re writing a piece in which a couple has an argument in such an establishment. Having paid attention to your surroundings – the decor, your fellow patrons, the waiting staff etc. – you’re now in a better position than most to build the scene.

    Personally, I like to pick up on a few very specific things for the purposes of authenticity; the cracked crimson paint which covers the walls, a tattered old oak chair which has survived for decades, a large red wine stain which suggests an altercation took place earlier.

    Your interest in your surroundings is something to embrace, in my opinion. It also means that you’ll rarely get bored!

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