Ready for commitment?
Introducing Peter Twohig!
I wrote a novel, and it took me four years. In that time I was working full time. I was writing about 4,000 words a month. But I was aware that the novel was taking second place, and that was not what I wanted. So I took a stand. I became a full-time writer with a part-time job.
My next novel took me one month to write. I wrote about 3,500 words a day. It found an agent, and my agent sold it to HarperCollins. Now I have to take myself seriously, because so many others do. There’s no motivation like respect.
My writing workload has since increased, not so much in wordage -- I think that would not be possible -- but in quality and commitment. I am now working on a the second draft of a nonfiction book (120,000 words and writing), the second draft of a novel (114,000) and the first draft of a novel (44,000 so far). I am also maintaining a blog for writers. In the present context, I am committed to: excellence in writing and becoming financially dependent on writing alone.
So how do I maintain the balance between writing and the rest of my life? That’s easy. My commitment puts writing first. It means for the time being doing casual work I’d rather not be doing. It means taking the train to work and back (an hour and a quarter each way) so that I can write on the train (a possible 2,000 words). But I’m not obsessed (though I’m not sure about that…) and I do make sure that I get time off to eat (one meal a day), sleep, swim and ride my motor bike (an hour every Sunday morning to the beach and back). I catch up with friends (mainly in coffee shops, where, if they turn up late, I can catch up on my writing).
To help me maintain the balance, I write as efficiently as possible, having bought myself to touch-type at 60 wpm. I have a most excellent MacBook Pro with an 18” screen, a 27” Mac cinema display for all my work at home, the best possible writing, word processing, database and book planning software. I also have an agent who does a heap of work for me, and I am a member of writing organisations.
The only potential problem is communication with my non-writing friends. The trick is to maintain social networking, email, and Skype a lot.
So you can see that my ‘balance’ is little skewed in the direction of writing. But I have good advice here. it is this: commit to your writing, and you will attract friends and contacts you never knew were out there to help and to be your friend. When you succeed, your old friends and relatives will be genuinely happy for you. Don’t forget, there are many people out there (and you know some) who secretly harbour a desire to write. They make excuses --I’ve heard them -- but really, the bottom line is, they have not committed.
I guess I don’t intentionally lead a balanced life: I have found that what most people call balance naturally springs from commitment.
Peter is the author of The Cartographer (Fourth Estate, 2012).
His author platform is http://petertwohig.com and his writing blog is The Voice of Fiction. Visit also www.thecartographer.com.au.