Surviving a Writer’s Existence: A How-to Guide for Leading a Seemingly Normal Life
I’m not weird – I’m a writer.
Sure, I sit in one spot for hours on end, drinking cold coffee. Yep, my office is wallpapered in sticky notes bearing story ideas. Yeah, people ask my husband if I’m okay because they never see me. Right – I have the complexion of a mealworm because I don’t get out in the sun.
Nonetheless, I contest that I am a completely normal person. Here’s how I did it.
How to be Normal
Have door pants
Door pants prevent embarrassment in front of unexpected guests. Remember: apply pants first, open door second.
Do one project at a time, unless you can’t
In his “11 Commandments of Writing and His Daily Creative Routine,” Henry Miller made a big deal about working on one thing at a time until finished. Three of his 11 commandments tell us to keep our eyes on the project at hand (Miller apparently had trouble focusing). This is probably good advice for novel writers, as it is always easier to start a project than it is to finish it. It may not always be practical for today’s content writers, though, who frequently have more than one project going at any given time.
Don’t trip over writer’s block
Henry Miller had another good commandment: “When you can’t create, you can work.” When you find yourself staring gape mouthed at the computer screen for an hour, start editing your project or research facts instead of waiting for inspiration to fly up your nose.
Stop working at the appointed time
There is nothing quite like the satisfaction of a job well done or the thrill of gold, except the desire to sleep, eat, shower and interact with others. Avoid the urge to work your life away – get out, take a walk, enjoy life. Remember the immortal words of Jack Nicholson, who played a hardworking writer in The Shining: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Get a cat
Or get a dog, or a canary, hedgehog or pony. Animal companions help you maintain a daily routine. Taking care of a pet also provides an excuse to step away from writing for a few minutes every day. For best results on appearing normal, limit the number of cats, as I’ve recently found out that there’s apparently a stigma about having 23 kitties in a studio apartment. By the way, contact me if you decide to adopt a cat – I happen to know where you can pick up a dozen.
Wear comfortable work clothes
Wearing comfortable clothes can help you focus on your work. On a side note, I don’t like it when people say that I work in my pajamas – I prefer to call it a “dual purpose uniform.”
Keep a clock in view and take scheduled breaks
Time flies when you’re having fun banging words out of the keyboard. Try to push away from the computer desk every few hours. Taking frequent breaks helps you avoid eyestrain, carpal tunnel syndrome and stiff legs.
Watch a movie
The Shining (1980), The World According to Garp (1982), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Sideways (2004), and Capote (2005) are all about writers just trying to lead normal lives.
Clear your browser history regularly
This is especially important if you are doing research for a murder mystery novel.
Henry Miller also instructs us to “Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.” Working on the internet provides plenty of opportunities to interact with people in forums, on Facebook and on other social media channels.
Be seen in public
See a show, go grocery shopping at the big box store, appear in a parade – it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it in public. Just be sure to slip on those door pants before leaving the house.
Embrace the writer’s life
A writer’s life offers more freedom than most other jobs. For the most part, you get to choose when to work, what to wear, who to work for, and how to live comfortably in your environment.
We writers enjoy one of the best professions on earth, especially in the digital era that allows us to stay at home and work in our dual purpose uniforms. Do we really want to be “normal?” I think not.
For more information and advice on living a seemingly normal life, consult with other WriterAccess writers. Don’t forget the door pants.
Lynn H writes everything from blogs to white papers; her specialty is putting complex scientific concepts in simple terms. She specializes in medical writing, creating informative and engaging content for professionals in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, medical manufacturing, chiropractics, optometry, emergency care, plastic surgery and others.