One of the neat things about being a writer is basically you’re the boss. You can set your own hours, decide what you’re going to work on, and plan how you want the project (story) to turn out.
One of the worst things about being a writer is you’re the boss.
Yes, you can set your own hours, but it’s way too easy to let other things, events, people nibble up those hours. Your spouse or significant other sees you staring at the computer screen, not typing, and assumes it’s okay to interrupt. Or friends call and ask you to do something, either with them or for the school or an organization, and how do you say no? As far as they’re concerned, you don’t work, so you must be available. Right? Or you’re working at home and you know the family needs clean clothes, or the refrigerator is empty, or your cat just knocked over the gold fish bowl. Can you really ignore those needs and keep typing?
It takes a lot of willpower to set aside a block of time or set of days when you won’t let anything interfere with your writing. I’ve often seen the quote: “Writing is 5% talent and 95% persistence.” (Or hard work.) Over the years I’ve come across many very talented writers (far better writers than I’ll ever be) who never get beyond the desire to write a book. They have the talent, but they don’t have the self-discipline or will to treat their writing as if they had a boss who would dock their pay if they didn’t come into the office at a specific time and not leave until they’d put in a full day of work.
It doesn’t have to be an 8-hour day. One hour a day has worked for many fledgling authors. The writer simply has to make it clear (both to herself/himself and others) that this is writing time…no interruptions, please. (When my children were small, they knew I wasn’t to be interrupted unless there was blood or a bone sticking out. They still remind me of that.)
Deciding what you’re going to work on also has its drawbacks. Oh, it’s nice to be in control of what you write, but I’ve seen many beginning writers start one book, get a ways into it, run into some problems or get a different, more exciting idea, start another story, get another new idea, start that story, then another and another. Now they have several stories started, but nothing finished, and because there is no “boss” demanding a project be completed, they never will have a story that could be published.
Even established writers don’t always have control over what they’re going to write. Some have a series or character that their fans adore. As much as that writer might want to try a different genre, unless s/he writes more than one book a year the fans have become the boss. You will write what I want, not what you want.
And, of course, we may all like to think we have complete control over what we’re writing, but unless we self-publish, if we want to be published, we do have a “boss.” Publishers determine genres they’ll accept, along with lengths, and to some extent, content. Editors often see the story in a different way and request changes. We, as writers, can always say no: it’s my way or I’m pulling it. After all, it is my name on the cover of the book or as a byline on a story. But refusing to make those changes may mean the book won’t be published, and if the change isn’t that great, or if I can fit my idea into the publisher’s guidelines, am I going to refuse?
Sometimes I think I’m the boss. Other times I know it’s an illusion. ☺