As we know, writers write (and artists sketch and paint, and sculptors sculpt, and dancers dance). That’s both a true statement and excellent advice. We must practice not just to improve but to maintain. Absence of creative activity makes the artist grow rusty.
But for writers, is all writing created equal? Does it have the same effect? Serve us equally well? Yes and no.
In many ways, writing is writing is writing. It works the same muscles and stimulates the same brain cells. But over the years I have noticed that all writing is not equally fulfilling, especially for me.
I am one of the “lucky” writers that writes for a living. That has been the case for me during happy moments of my career. As a journalist, a publisher, a documentation specialist and now as a consultant, I have earned my paycheck by putting words to pages. Often I put quite a lot of words to pages. But this isn’t always a good thing for the other writer in me, the one who writes because she can’t imagine NOT writing.
Writing for a living means that my writing, and with it my time, is divided roughly into two categories–work and personal–with work always receiving priority status.
Bill do have to be paid after all.
It would be great if the writing I call personal–the manuscripts, stories, and essays–brought in enough money to pay my bills. It would also be great if cash sprouted from the ground like weeds. While I wait for either of those scenarios, I have to prioritize accordingly.
Work writing hones my writing skills, and requires a fair amount of creativity as well, but it’s just not the same for me as when I open the file for my current book in process, or scribble down lines that have been dancing in my brain, or sketch out a character that has been talking to me.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about missing blogging when life and work combined to knock me off of my routine and therefore cut out any and all personal writing time. But I haven’t blogged about what type of personal writing that I do, so I thought I’d take a moment to introduce my personal writing self.
I write a little bit of everything. I have several fiction novel manuscripts in various stages of completion/endless rewrites, about a dozen finished short stories, and a handful of flash fiction pieces. But my favorite type of personal writing is creative nonfiction, probably stemming from my introduction to journalism at an impressionable age. I have two creative nonfiction book length manuscripts and I’m currently working on a third. I’ve also dabbled in essay writing and have taken stabs at the creative nonfiction equivalent of flash fiction, with mixed results. I steer clear of poetry, leaving that to my husband. It’s not good for married writers to compete, right?
My personal writing is what gets pushed off my To Do list when work and regular life gets busy. But that can only go on for so long before I feel that restlessness that only being creative can cure. When that happens, I MAKE time to write what I want to write…after I meet those pesky work deadlines, of course.