I have been struggling to finish a collection of short stories since March this year.
“Do you lock yourself in a room the whole day to write?” asked a friend of mine excitedly on the phone.
I laughed and said “that’s not how it works for me”.
Sure, there are writers who write for hours and hours endlessly, but this whole business of ‘locking yourself up’ to write as much as you can, has never appealed to me. Only yesterday I read an article about a writer who challenged himself to write a book in a month and publish it by the end of it.
“It felt like I was working eight days a week,” he claims. All his days were spent inside his room, writing away. Perhaps that’s an admirable way of doing it. But as far as I am concerned, I don’t think I can write continuously for more than three hours. I need food break, music break, balcony break, coffee break, nap break, reading break, blog break, texting break, video calling break… well you get the gist? All sorts of breaks. Multi-tasking is not my thing. I need to have my coffee in peace, with some music in the background and me doing nothing.
Until a few years back, even I sort of had this blind belief that you need ‘the right kind of ambiance’ to be able to write in peace. Virginia Woolf’s essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’ strengthened that belief. The essay argues that in order for women to produce great pieces of literature, they need to have a room of their own and be free of domestic chores like male writers. She also goes on to say that the woman also needs to be free of financial worries to devote that kind of time into writing. Which did make sense.
But then you have a Stephen King, who was living in a trailer, barely making ends meet when he published his first bestseller – Carrie. King was so short on cash that he had to get his telephone line cut to save money. He is on the other end of the spectrum. He wasn’t like the men Woolf talked about in her essay, the kinds that didn’t have any financial woes and were gaining rich experiences through travelling to exotic locations to write interesting books.
If I’ve understood one thing about writing fiction, it’s this – it all boils down to personal discipline. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation is, or if your room has a sea-side view to fuel your imagination. All of that is pure bullshit. Every writer is unique and their motivations are unique too.