“The Wrestler” got me thinking about the sacrifices writers make. While it’s certainly possible (and advisable) to live a balanced life as a writer that does not involve Randy “The Ram”-esque self-destruction, everyone I know who has succeeded as a writer had to give up something to get there, whether it was time doing something more immediately fun, spending time with friends and family, or the ability to read bad writing without cringing.
What have you given up for your writing dream?
I cannot function in a mess, so I have been unable to give up housework. Instead, I’ve dropped most everything from my social calendar. I also rescheduled my gym time and now I no longer get to work out with my best friend. Thankfully, she’s very understanding about that.
Kimber An says
Nothing. Like other moms who need to do other stuff to stay happy, I simply incorporated it into the daily schedule.
Jason Crawford says
Hey thanks to whoever posted the Nathan Top 10 Writing Commandments list…good stuff.
wow so many people sacrificed financial security. I don’t think I’m brave enough to do that. I do have every intention of not procreating but that’s more of a bonus than a sacrifice.
Joseph L. Selby says
My friends enjoy video games. ALL my friends enjoy video games. I don’t have the time for video games. I borrowed Fallout 3 and haven’t played it since February. I have written 40k since February, though.
(I’m married now, but I did break up with a previous girlfriend who insisted I write less.)
I’ve sacrificed living in the present and hanging out with the people that I love, some of whom I actually brought into this world in order to hand out with imaginary people I create on the page…….
I have a question about the agent process that are not currently answered in your FAQ. I hope you’ll have time to answer in a blog post!
You’ve talked quite a bit about the statistics behind requesting a partial based on a query, but what about the next step? Once you request a partial, how often do you go the next step and make an offer of representation? I’d be delighted to read any thoughts you have on the subject (reading a partial vs. reading the whole ms, etc.)
ryan field says
Feeling in my left hand.
Seriously. Sounds silly, but after working at a keyboard for over fifteen years as an editor and writer, carpel tunnel arrived at 37years old last year.
This is a funny topic.
It makes me think about our whole societal thing about needing to sacrifice.
Sacrifice seems so destructive. It is a very different element than choosing something, as in choosing a writing career. Rather it is about giving up something.
It implies a deal with the devil, a trade. A bargaining.
In my observations, many of the individuals who “gave up” things, people, etc. were actually more selfish and less impressive.
I met a “well known” artist who had more than eleven children he had never supported in any way from various women. I met a Hollywood set designed who had a string of broken relationships behind him.
I’ve met tons of musicians with no family, money, or personality left at the end of the day. I met a writer who let his pregnant wife still support him while he was half-writing half-baked material.
The people I have known who ALSO cared about their wife, their kids,
their other responsibilities have stood out more to me.In many ways, they seemed like more talented artists, writers, etc.- at least as impressive.
But as people, they were MORE impressive by caring about the lives of the people around them.
(And, in turn, these creatives were richer and more supported by those people than the ones without them.)
Gurdjieff called them “good householders” – a basic grounded place to work from for spirituality, creativity, etc.
At the end of the day, having a true love may do more for a writer than fifteen minutes of fame and glory.
The writing or art may still endure. The love will pass from (according to some Indigenous beliefs) for seven generations.
And love will grow one’s art on deeper levels than fifteen minutes of fame ever could.
s.w. vaughn says
Housework, TV, health insurance, and any hope of ever seeing the bright side of sanity or stability.
Who needs that crap, anyway?
In order to write one of my favorite piece of work so far, I gave up my dedication to my English class. Needless to say, I flunked it. Thankfully, though, I took an English elective that will count as my English grade for the year.
I know school should come first, but… you don’t have to cite your sources in your novel!
Shakespeare's Housekeeper says
My hubby is the writer- not me.
He hasn’t had to give up anything…writing is what he has always done, and that’s that.
Unlike me, the writers wife…i’ve given up everything so he can do what he loves.
Mostly sleep. I gave up a high paying database application developer job when my daughter was born. Couldn’t bear the thought of them being in daycare all the time. If I didn’t write and have my writer friends, I’d probably be in a straight jacket.
An eye-catching and well-manicured yard, buns of steel and a cluttered garage and basement.
Shannon Ryan says
My fear, self doubt, video games, television, friends.
Gary Arndt says
I haven’t seen a single friend or family member in two years as I’ve been traveling around the world.
Sun Up says
Housework–my room looks like a…I don’t even want to say–but it should be condemned. I can’t even see the floor anymore. I’d like to blame that on my toddler, but I can’t.
Time with the boyfriend and daughter. I end up feeling guilty that she’s playing and I’m in my own little world. But I take breaks every so often to play with her and…him (dirty? Ohyesiam)
Cathi Stoler says
I don’t really feel like I’m giving up anything, because I love writing so much. (I could however happily give up all the time I spend rewriting)! I do have less time for other fun stuff, but I think in the end it will be worth it.
Mon Chéri says
Julie Weathers says
“Your personal story is extremely moving! I wish you great success with your novel, Paladin.”
Thanks. In the final revisions rounds before it goes out on submission, so we’ll see. I think it will sell, but if it doesn’t, the next one will.
A social life. Kidding! Mostly… I’ve given up cleaning. Not that I ever did that before I started writing. I do wash dishes though. I find it’s good for my writing creativity.
Samantha Clark says
SLEEP! But I figure I’ll do that when I retire. 🙂
SC Sousa says
The process of writing a novel has been challenging and rewarding, but costly. My wife and I have never had a ton of money, so quality time is the thing we cherish. To that end, it’s how to budget free time that has been the biggest challenge.
In the midst of writing at least 3 pages a day, I’ve run into many an evening or weekend where I thought, “Finally, I get time to write!” while my wife thought, “Finally, we can go to the beach!”
Although we figured out how to solve our predicament, it takes continual sacrifice of our free time. I want to write so that I can get noticed, published, and successful, in order to help provide for my wife and I, and to bless others. At the same time, I know I have to give up some of the present to invest in the future.
The Amateur says
I’m lackadaisical and just beginning. I’m still in school, an adult student, who wants an MFA. I really haven’t given up much but TV. I’m having a difficult time with dedication (I sort of let people squander my time), but when I have an idea, I run with it. I try and balance my time between writing and living my life. I only write poetry, creative non-fiction and some fiction and the latter two are only short pieces and essays for now so there’s not much to give up. I’m not sophisticated enough or talented enough to write a full blown novel so sacrifice isn’t pressing.
Chumplet - Sandra Cormier says
Sometimes I look at the comments and realize that after 278, my words would mean nothing.
However, I’m a sucker for punishment, or at least I’m used to being that invisible kid in the background.
I gave up housework. Cooking. Gardening. My waistline. Sex. No, not really…
What I won’t give up is having a laugh with my hubby and two teenagers (reduced to one in a few weeks, she’s turning 20), my painting or my reading.
I definitely won’t EVER give up watching a hockey game, especially during the playoffs.
I left a 6-figure salary at America’s #1 company to work for, including 3 free meals a day, free health insurance, free gym membership, and a MacBook Pro to sit at home in my undies and pretend I can actually write.
Now I’m depressed. Thanks.
Simon Haynes says
TV, for sure. Hence my addiction to DVD box sets over the past 3-4 years – Buffy, XFiles, Minder .. great way to catch up with all the stuff I’ve missed since around 1991. I write, then reward myself with more DVDs. Works for me!
LOL Dayna, I gave up housekeeping before I started writing 🙂
I gave up television for three years while I was working full-time, raising kids, and writing at night. Now, I rarely watch tv, but reward myself for finishing a project by buying a season of a favorite show and having a tv marathon for a week.
I also gave up a couple hours of sleep a night. Not joking there, either.
Hell with motivation. In the movie, just after Ram does his heart attack he’s at the bank it seems, right? First, what does the woman with the (balkan?) accent say to him? Then she hands him an envelope with money, right? Who sent it please and what does it say? I can hardly see far and near. Thanks anyone and everyone.
Susan Gabriel says
Status. I used to be a successful psychotherapist with a full practice and people looked up to me. Now I’m a struggling writer. This is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Success in this field has eluded me.
I met you at the PPWC recently. Enjoyed chatting briefly with you. What I gave up…. I quit my Clinical Psych PhD program to do what my high school English teacher was sure I should do. Don’t regret it. Karen Lin
I suppose I “gave up” family life, social life, tv, housework, lots of bourgeois comforts and standards — but the only thing I really wanted of all that was financial security. Not the big house, but a small house with a safety net. I had a good job years back, but the hours were too long, although the money was substantial. My colleagues called themselves prostitutes — they were consultants. I bailed.
I’ve given up some sleep, housework, scrapbook and recently I gave up piano lessons. Too much creativity flowing away 🙂
Also: peace and quiet. I’m one of the lucky (?) people who hear their characters in their head at all hours of the day. Including at night, when I’m trying to get to sleep so I can get up at five o’clock in the morning the next day.
Mr Verne says
Gave up my well paid job in London, moved back in with my parents, and signed on to the dole. I’m 32, broke, and have taken a monumental leap.