My husband and I sometimes argue about how inflexible I am about going to writers’ group. “Can’t you just skip this week?” he’ll ask before bringing up some fun thing we could go do, like seeing a movie as if a fun activity to pass the time and the thing that gives me consistent deadlines are interchangeable.
A friend of mine has a very specific time window for writing while her kid is in MMO. It’s a tiny, four hour block of time she gets twice a week. In that time she’s finished amazing books. Her husband knows it is her writing time, it’s why their child is signed up for MMO, but every time one of his days off lands on an MMO day they end up arguing because he doesn’t see why she can’t just do it later when he’s not home.
Another writer friend of mine despaired that a copy of his book leaked pre-publication and had already been downloaded all over the place. People think nothing of stealing a book someone worked over a year to write. I’ve heard people justify piracy like it’s an insult they’d be expected to pay for something that someone else enjoyed making. “Shouldn’t they be happy anyone even wants to read their book?” (Singers and actors get that one a lot, too)
It’s not just other people.
Today before I sat down to write, I got an email regarding something I volunteered for at my daughter’s school, a bill in the mail that needed to be paid, a text from my husband about some groceries we forgot to pick up, and a reminder note to schedule my cats’ yearly exam. None of it was so important it had to be dealt with just then. It all could wait. But I still felt tempted to stop and deal with all the less fun stuff so I could enjoy my “down” time writing.
Writing pays my mortgage. It’s not down time. It’s absolutely essential.
We, as a society have a really weird hang up about things we enjoy. Point out any profession that people go into for the love of it, and chances are they are fighting tooth and nail to be paid while people chant useless things at them like “No one goes into teaching for the money. If you didn’t love your job, you wouldn’t be there.”
For some reason we equate any job we might actually find enjoyment in as something that doesn’t count as real work. But writing, or any other job that takes work and time and effort, is no less of a job because you aren’t miserable doing it. Critique meetings are no less important because they also happen to be fun. Just because you love it doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.