Why Authors Need an 'Outside Life'

Rearview shot of a young man working on a computer
Rearview shot of a young man working on a computer

If you're in the field of writing the changes are good that you tend to face more rejection and less acceptance than those in any other profession. No other group of people face criticism and rejection as often as we do. Truthfully, though we may rant and rave, we have no choice but to accept it; it is after all part of the "game of publishing."

Quitting this artistic profession we have chosen is not an option. Writers write because there is something inside us that drives us to create stories, write articles, and put ourselves out there for others to see, possibly reject, and comment negatively on our work. It is almost masochistic! How many rejections can you take before you quit? The answer is we'll take them all and we will never quit.

A writer's life is not without its occupational hazards. Writing can become all-consuming even though no author is the same when it comes to their own schedule of writing. Some write four to five hours a day straight through, some as much as eight. Some break up the hours; Dan Brown once said in an interview that after two hours of intense writing he would get up and use the vertical machine in his office to clear his head and get his body moving.

Then there are the writers who closet themselves in their writing areas almost 18 hours a day and rarely emerge outside of a quick bathroom run! Truthfully I did this with my first book, And Then I'll Be Happy! I basically had no social life and my husband told me at one point that he saw me so little that my face was becoming just a blurred memory. But I didn't care; I was on a creative roll and I had to get that book written! Now I write for two to three hours a day, more if I have a major deadline, but it is never an all-day marathon, not any more.

While it is fairly accurate that writers are misunderstood in general, (we're artists!); not many people can, or want, to do what we do. The process of writing changes the way we look at the world, we see what others don't and that often sets us apart. But the truth is that, being consumed by the writing muse can be detrimental to your writing.

Does that sound crazy? How can doing nothing but write hurt our writing? It can and it does.
Mental fatigue is one way that ruins an author's creativity. Anyone who has had the exhausting experience of all-night cramming sessions for college exams knows all too well about mental fatigue. It has been shown to reduce the creative spark rather than enhance it. Then too there is the very real danger of depression; being alone all the time with very little outside contact can lead to this potentially dangerous evil in a writer's life.

You need to have an outside life away from the writing one and surprisingly the two "lives" can not only co-exist very nicely but your "outside life" can be beneficial to your creative life by refreshing your thought processes. Too much alone time can lead to the dreaded writer's block.

Getting off your computer, up from your chair, and out into the world is a bit scary because you're "leaving work undone," I agree but it is necessary for your metal and physical health. Just going for a walk, calling, not texting or emailing, a friend or family member to make a human connection is a productive time away from your computer.

And, if you're like most writers, your author's subconscious is creating and storing new ideas that will benefit your writing. Socializing by going out to dinner, a movie, or a museum are great places to observe people and settings for character development and story lines.Taking an exercise class, or seeing a film, is not wasted time. Besides refreshing you it will lead to some heretofore untried writing experiences.

As writers we will always be thinking about our characters, the current and next stories, the articles begging to be written, and the deadlines we face. Taking some time to live your "outside life" will make you a refreshed, relaxed person who faces the profession of writing with new eyes and a healthy perspective. Combining our creative and outside lives make us winners.

Happy writing!

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