Writing, money, and TOTAL PANIC…Miller-style

Henry Miller

How doth the successful author lead their lives?

In his self-titled book on writing, Henry Miller claims that the key is “writ[ing] first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.”

Sure, I can agree that if I’m really serious about my craft I should probably wait till after I’ve reached my daily word count before surfing Grumpy Cat memes, but what about things that you can’t just put off? Things that must always come first… like earning money.

As I begin preparing myself to re-enter the workforce after taking a year off to take care of my son and finish my latest novel manuscript, I have been thinking a lot about how I am going to balance between the demands of paid work, and the desire to write creatively.  Midnight work sessions? Bring my laptop on the bus? Extremely long washroom breaks?

As excited as I am to join a new job environment, meet new people, do things that help others, the thought of no longer having any time or energy for my novel terrifies me.


6 thoughts on “Writing, money, and TOTAL PANIC…Miller-style

  1. Sadly I know how you feel. When I first left school and got a job, I almost immediately lost any drive I had to spend my spare time writing. For nearly 6 years I didn’t write anything beyond brief adventures for my roleplaying games. Work on my novel ideas stopped, no short stories, not even any poetry. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve really started writing again, and most of that is either very short form fiction and descriptive pieces, stuff for my blog or, again, content for games.

    What eventually got me back into it was a realisation that I needed to have something to keep me occupied outside of work. When I don’t have a hobby to distract myself from work with, I end up spending ridiculously long hours in the office (10 to 11 hour days with a minimal break weren’t unusual). After my doctor pointed out that I’d put on a stupid amount of weight and was suffering from stress and hypertension, all of which had started after I began overworking myself, I quickly cut back my hours in the office, started my blog, and started writing again. Not long after that I also started going to the gym, which I’ve found helps with the writing as well, as it gives me time where I can literally just think things through while working out.

    1. Well I’m glad to see you found a way to make it work, that’s very encouraging. So I guess for you the secret was finding a better balance with work? I will definitely keep that in mind! And yes, I totally agree, physical activity is amazing for helping work stories out. Thanks for the insight!

      1. A better balance was definitely the major part of it. There are still times where I have to stop writing for a while to get vital work done, like a couple of months back where we went into crunch time to get a major project completed. But overall I try to keep to more standard hours now, and having something like writing to come home and distract myself with certainly helps with that.

  2. I read an article recently that talked about the lifestyles of wildly successful creative people. Apparently they all got up really early and drank a lot of coffee. So, maybe that’s a possibility (says the girl who CONSTANTLY complains about how impossible it is to manage this feat)? I do like the idea of long washroom breaks though.

    1. Good to know. I have just started working again this week and will admit that I haven’t hit the keyboard once. Perhaps early mornings are the key…I will have to give that try. Thanks for the tip!

      1. No problem! If you manage it and come up with any good strategies to keep it going, let me know! My life is a constant battle with my tendency to sleep reaaallly late. Haha.

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