What is the ideal life for a writer? This is a question I’ve been mulling over for some time now. When I was younger I thought it was the Hank Moody or Hunter S. Thompson lifestyle: living a wild life worth writing about. But drugs scare me and I’m fairly introverted, so that’s a big no for me. Plus. It’s hard to get a lot of quality writing done when you’re completely blitz all the time.
As I got older I started to think that maybe the ideal life for a writer is that of the romanticized writers of yesteryear. Think Edgar Allan Poe or H.P. Lovecraft locked in their study as they scribble endless words on the page. Clearly you can get a lot of work done this way, but is that really any way to live?
Then there’s the Hemingway, grab life by the balls and write in between bullfighting and machine gun shooting sessions. This is the overtly manly approach, but it never much appealed to me, either. So I started thinking about how real writers live. Not the images we see on TV or the legends we’ve heard about of famous authors from the past. I’m talking about people who make a living writing, yet can still live fairly normal lives.
The sweet spot seems to be in the ability to juggle relationships, family, and writing without sacrificing any one thing. Stephen King always seems like a guy who has this down reasonably well. Other than his 80s drug and alcohol binges, he did a good job of balancing work and his family life. So, is that the ideal writer’s lifestyle?
Unfortunately, things are never that simple. And when it comes down to it, everyone is different. What is paradise for one person is a prison for another. I’d be more than happy having a house in the country with my girlfriend and dog where I could write in peace during the day. Someone else, though, might look at that life and feel a twinge of bile creep up in their throat.
My advice is to do what feels right and that brings your life into a peaceful balance. This means you shouldn’t focus too heavy on your writing while neglecting the other important things in your life. The goal is to achieve the proper homeostasis through trial and error. I must warn you, though, this process isn’t entirely painless.
Once you figure out how to be happy and productive it’ll seem like everything just clicks into place. Maybe this means you buy a secluded cabin in the woods and live and write like a hermit. Or perhaps you rent an apartment in a busy city where you spend your evenings out on the town and the rest of the nights writing until the sun comes up.
There’s no correct answer for everyone as a whole, but there is a correct answer for each individual. You just need to find out what lifestyle works best for. And once you do, cherish it. Because life has a way of changing when we least expect it.
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