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Discussion questions: What pursuits and activities do you sacrifice for your writing? Who might you be and what might your life look like if you didn’t write? What pursuits do you follow *in addition* to writing, and how are you able to achieve a satisfying balance? Let me know in the comments.
Everything we choose to do also involves choosing a nearly infinite number of things not to do. If I go to a 7:00 Yankees/Red Sox game I can’t attend the 7:00 Broadway show. I can’t sweep the floor while taking a bike ride. (Actually, I guess I could… hmmm.) I can’t perform standup comedy at an open mic night while simultaneously asking leading questions at an awkward and inexplicably well-attended seminar about gutter filters.
And that’s just one-off events. Activities involving a deeper and long-running commitment negate almost every other similar commitment. You can’t become an expert at every musical instrument any more than you can become fluent in every spoken language. It’s hard enough to learn both the piano and how to verbally navigate a piano shop in Paris.
I don’t care about French but I’d love to learn the piano. And the guitar. And to sing. And to speak and read fluent Spanish. Donate my time to causes and campaigns I care about. Plunge down a history rabbit hole and become an expert in a particular person or era. Take hours’ long daily walks around the city. And, and, and…
Thing is, I can’t. Because I’m writing a book. Two books, really. And some stories. And a whole bunch of other nonsense.
The other day a writer friend said to me “I’ve always wanted to get deeply involved in chess, but I don’t have time to do that and finish my book. And the next one.”
Choosing to write means also choosing to discard other pursuits.
Not all! I manage to write and to play in summer and fall baseball leagues. But I definitely write more in the offseason. And it took me a long time to find an acceptable balance between writing, baseball, practicing writing, practicing baseball, reading, work, friends and family, exercise, sleep, movies and TV, etc.
If I tried to throw the piano into that mix, I’d never get anywhere.
In order to write, we sacrifice other versions of who we could be.
Totally worth it, though.
How about you? What pursuits and activities do you sacrifice for your writing? Who might you be and what might your life look like if you didn’t write?
What pursuits do you follow in addition to writing, and how are you able to achieve a satisfying balance?
Let’s talk about it in the comments.
WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.
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