These are the words of my first creative writing teacher.
It was good advice, especially the TV part, but I think he could have added one more item to the list. Avoid Crazymakers.
Julie Cameron, in her book, The Artist’s Way, describes Crazymakers as “those personalities that create storm centers. They are often charismatic, frequently charming, highly inventive, and powerfully persuasive. And,” she adds, “for the creative person in their vicinity, they are enormously destructive. You know the type: charismatic but out of control, long on problems and short on solutions.”
In short, they will sabotage your writing time.
Early in my writing career my life was filled with crazymakers. It seemed that every time I found a few hours to write and was just getting into the flow my phone would ring or the door bell would buzz and one of the many crazymakers in my life would be there, sucking me into the eye of their storm. By the time I was able to hang up or they had moved on, I was totally derailed and could not get back into the project. Crazymakers never ask if it is a good time to call or visit, or if they are interrupting something. They just give it to you with both barrels.
I no longer have as many crazymakers in my life. I’m not sure why. Maybe I’ve become more protective of my time. Call display on the phone certainly helps and my real friends always understand that writing is my work, and that I have a truly miserable boss (me). When I give writing workshops and the participants ask how to become successful, I give them this advice: become tyrants with your time. Schedule writing into your week, and stick to the schedule. Don’t let anyone steal your time, and that’s really what it is. Stealing.
Most writers don’t have the luxury of full writing days. They have to write in the margins of their lives, between paying jobs, carpooling the kids, maintaining a home and making meals. It’s hard to squeeze in writing time, and when you do, you feel selfish, especially if you are not yet published. But that is the irony. To become published you have to spend hours, years, mastering the craft. You have to send out submissions and accept rejection letters. Above all else, you have to persevere. You have to write. And write. Expecting your family and friends to give you the time to work at your craft is not selfish. Avoid the crazymakers. They are not your friends. Your friends want you to be successful.
Oh, and don’t forget, get rid of the TV.