I'd like to share my musings on "writing" vs. "work."
In short, when you are writing, do you tell people you're writing, or do you say that you are working?
(Weird question? Bear with me!)
Most of you (as in, you-who-are-regular-readers-of-this-blog), whether agented or not, are not yet published. As such, your writing has not yet produced an income. When we hear the word "income" we automatically think "work."
Yet, if your writing isn't producing income (yet), can you still call it "work"?
I do. Because it is. I do not make appointments or schedule anything during my daily writing time, because I am WORKING. It's WORK TIME.
Of course, I do call it my "writing time", too. But what's funny about this is that, were it a different vocation, I would probably just call it "work." Which is what other people call the Thing They Do to bring in money.
"I'm on my way to practice law now."
"I answer the telephone and schedule appointments from noon to four."
"I have to teach fourth-graders on Monday."
Granted, those who work in the ARTS do word things differently. And yes, writing is on the arts side of things.
A pianist will definitely say, "I have to practice this morning." Not, "I have to work this morning."
A conductor will definitely say, "I have a rehearsal tonight." Not, "I have to work tonight."
An actor will say, "I have to memorize my lines." Not, "I have to work."
Yet there's something that feels more "work-ish" about sitting at a laptop (or a 1954 typewriter, or a composition book) and writing. It might have something to do with the Age of Technology, when folks are walking around with all sorts of devices, making work more mobile than it's ever been.
I mean, when you see a guy in nice clothes with a Mac at Starbucks, don't you assume he's working?
There's something about the word "work" that legitimizes the whole writing thing. At the same time, I hate that that's true. Because writing IS work, whether you call it that or not. And we don't need to be spending our time trying to legitimize what we're doing.
It's legitimate, folks.
So, what about you? When your neighbor calls you during your Saturday morning writing time and asks if you can watch her three-year-old twins for a couple hours while she gets her car fixed, do you tell her you're WORKING? Or let's say she's a bit more organized. What if your neighbor calls you on Friday and asks if you can watch her three-year-old twins from ten to noon on Saturday--and that happens to be exactly when you get your writing done. Do you say, "I will be working then. Can I help you later in the afternoon?" Or do you say, "That's my writing time. Can I help you later in the afternoon?"
Or do you say, "Sure, I'll do it!" and drop the writing altogether?
(Yes. I've asked that last question with bated breath.)
Because, yeah. If you had to be at the bank from ten to noon on Saturday because you WORKED there, you would have to tell your neighbor, "I work from ten to noon."
Shouldn't you say the same thing about your writing?
A final comment: My writing didn't take off until I finally made this level of commitment to it. Prior to that, I would sometimes allow several weeks to pass without touching a manuscript. Now, it's a 6-day-a-week commitment, no matter what. It's my passion, but it's also my WORK.
When it comes down to it, my daily writing is only 90 minutes to 2 hours of my day. But IT IS ALWAYS PART OF MY DAY. And it takes a lot to get me to put it aside for something else. (Just ask my husband.)
So. "Work" or "Writing?" Share your thoughts!