I have a friend who told me that when she gets stuck in her writing she does the dishes. It gives her time to work out tangled plots. When I do the dishes I don't work out plot tangles or character glitches. I don't see my character's face in a mound of soap bubbles or dried on marinara sauce. All I see is dirty dishes and how gross it is to stick your hands in with all the old food particles, germs, and bacteria. I worry about how all the anti-bacterial detergents are leading to super bacteria. If I see anything in those darn bubbles it is a giant bacteria cell flying around in a red cape. Unfortunately, the bacteria cell does not have the face of Henry Cavill.
Are you wondering what washing dishes has to do with writing?
Writing is a job. Even if you have a contract with a major publisher, you are still a self-employed person. The only incentive you have to finish your project is the hope of receiving a paycheck when you are done. If you are under contract and your editor likes what you have done, you will receive that paycheck. However, if you are trolling the Writer's Marketplace looking for a friendly home for your baby, you are not guaranteed a check. You must search out a home for it and hope it will be adopted by a kindly editor that will give you an advance. If you end up with a smaller company, there may not be any advance in the near future, you will have to hope for good royalties.
Money is a pleasant bonus, but it should not be your primary motivator. Unless you had oral sex with a sitting President, the chances are your advance, or even your royalties, won't be enough to buy a car or put a down payment on a house. You must write for the same reasons you pick up those nasty dishes and scrub them clean. It needs to be done.
You write because there is a story inside you that is fighting to come out. There will be days when it is fighting with you and not coming out, but if those voices decide to take a vacation, you must find a way to work around them until they return.
Writing is a job. A job you have to work at. Even if the weather is so nice you want to spend everyday at the beach, or the snow is powder fine and you want to swoop down the slopes. Any job you work at will expect you to maintain a schedule. If you take a leave of absence or go on sabbatical, you must realize that things change while you are gone, your skills get rusty, others may have taken your place.
Don't treat your writing like a hobby, something you can pick up and put down for months at a time. Treat it like a sink full of dirty dishes. If you want nourishment, you must get your hands dirty.
Your writing should nourish your soul as much as the food on your plate nourishes your body. It is the fuel that will keep you going through rejections and advances.
Carolyn Sullivan has written a daily horoscope just for writers. The horoscope can guide you through the rocky shoals and help you keep your Muse attentive. She has given me permission to post the horoscope for the next three days. The following is from Wisdom for Writers: Autumn 2012.
Monday, October 22:
This evening the sun enters Scorpio.
If your hero and heroine have been in conflict, no matter what genre you write, now is the time to write their love scene. You all need the relief.
Tuesday, October 23:
Others are going to oppose your plans. This is your story, tell it your way. Friends and critique partners mean well, but they don’t have the whole picture. They have only seen the parts of your story you have shared with them. You are the master of the universe (your story), and only you can decide what fits and what doesn’t.
Wednesday, October 24:
Business conflicts are brewing around you. It could be something as simple as a critique partner who doesn’t like your story or as complicated as your editor or agent not liking your story. Not all is lost however. You are about to undergo a rapid series of changes. These changes may have you feeling as if you’re wallowing round in muck. You must regain control and keep it.
Carolyn also has a daily horoscope for everyone. It is a unique horoscope that is based on plants, not planets.