One should only write for somewhere between 30 minutes and three hours a day. Max.
The rest should be spent living. Working. Playing. Conversing. Reading. Pondering. Drinking. Making love. Exercising. Eating well. Walking. Getting lost.
I remember my first stint as a freelancer. I’d write for 6, 7, 8 — sometimes upwards of 10 hours a day.
If I didn’t, I wasn’t making money.
When I wasn’t writing a paid assignment for a client, I was writing a blog post or some kind of promotional piece.
Writing is an outpouring of life energy. You grab a big-ass bucket, dip it into your life, and pour it out on the page.
When you’re a hired hand, all you do is pour, pour, pour, all day. So you scrape bottom, scrape bottom, and scrape bottom again until you’re completely dry.
You need a refill. A refill of life. Of interesting conversations, of whimsical observations, and of epiphanies. Those are hard to come by staring at a screen all day.
This is why being a full-time writer/freelancer is hard. Until you get to the point where you can charge enough to give yourself freedom from the page, you can easily dry up.
Know that if you are a full-time hired pen, you need to charge for getting out for a run, grabbing a drink or four with friends, catching up on South Park, and meditating.
Most of us only charge for the ‘pouring’ part of the work and foot the bill for the ‘filling up’ part. But without the latter, the former isn’t possible.
A rich body of work requires a rich life.
…not necessarily like, ‘Robin Leech’ rich. But full. Vibrant. You need to be out there mixing it up with the world. You gotta fill that bucket up so you have something to pour out onto the page again.
Doesn’t matter if you’re writing copy, doing technical writing, or writing fiction. You get paid proportionally for the amount of life you put into the words, just like any other artist. If your life is dead, your words will be too.
Get out from behind the screen. You can’t afford not to.