It's an odd question, I know, but for someone whose imagination is on constant duty, simply switching off that writing-brain is not an easy task. I haven’t written a thing today and don’t intend to write any prose until Monday, other than this short blog entry. That’s no big deal, I hear you say, but consider that I’ve never gone more that two days without writing some prose in some form - in over a year - and a break, however short, is going to be hard for me.
(Even if that break is only 3 days.)
So how long could you not write for?
I guess you could say that in any given year I will write for about 10 hours a week, and average around 10,000 words in that week. That’s about 520,000 words a year, or 500,000 words a year if you ignore holidays… and yes, that does mean for about two weeks in a year, I’m not writing something, as well as working a 30 hour day-job, being a husband to a beautiful wife and father to a demanding, yet lovely son. It’s obsessive, and I do recognise that I am wholly addicted to my imagination - so a break, however short, is a big deal to me.
(Even for 3 days.)
Last year was tricky. Last year there were more breaks because of Daniel, and breaks where I wasn’t writing anything – or so I told people. Truthfully, I was writing short stories on the quiet or researching future projects during those weeks which I promised would be writing-free. I just couldn’t help myself. I even started tinkering with The Black Hours when I should have been relaxing after another sleepless night caused by our three month-old son. But that was okay – I wasn’t burning myself out. I was fine. No harm, no foul, as they say. And I did take some breaks.
(But not longer than 3 days.)
From April, my life will be mental. That’s perhaps the easiest way of putting it. From April, Sarah will return to work and those 7 hours I sacrifice every week for the writing will be sacrificed for our son and his childcare. So that’s 7 hours lost but I still plan to write 10,000 words a week during weekends and evenings.
It’s going to be tough, I have no doubt. Tough on my rapidly disappearing social life. Tough on my family. Tough on me. If I’m stupid, I’ll burn myself out, but I think I know what I’m doing. As Frances said in the comments to a previous post, what do I do with my creative energy? How do I manage it? The truth is, my writing has its own momentum and the moment I stop for longer than 3 days is the moment I fear I will stall. After 3 days, I fear my writing will go stale and I will lose the motivation, the discipline and the momentum to keep writing. So I keep writing. Not the same thing all the time. It could be a short story. It could be a new novel. Anything. And maybe a break, now and then.
For 3 days.
Or as the Pythons say, “One more than 2 and no more than 3."
"4 is right out.”
So then… 3 days is the maximum...
(…and after that I am a willing slave to my imagination.)