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 I hear a lot of writers say to be a good writer you have to write, read, write some more, and read some more, and then write a lot more, and read a lot more. This keeps the juices flowing, so to speak. Yes, I agree (in theory) with this, but in my lifelong ambition of becoming a published author I’ve learned a thing a two I want to share.

Writing is a writer’s joy. It’s our obsession (I know, I say this a lot!). It’s that other lover in our life we always make time for. And that is at times our Achilles Heel. We are so obsessed with writing we forget the other important thing   to live. Aside from writing we have things to do, too. We need to wash the car, fold clothes, go grocery shopping, walk the dog, spend time with the family, and do this without wishing we were sitting in front of our laptop writing. Easier said than done!

It’s important we learn to control our urge to write and remember to do the other things in life that matter. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’m out for a walk, or spending time with family, enjoying a game, or hike, and despite being surrounded by things and people that would make anyone happy I find myself wishing I were home writing. Doing so completely takes the fun out of living and experiencing other things in life that are as important as our obsession to write.

I still don’t think I’ve mastered this separation of when to read, when to write, and when to live. I know I’ve come up with a routine that works for me, but also know when the routine can’t be followed because of life’s intrusions I have a helluva time keeping my self-control in check. The result being I miss out on family/friend gatherings despite being right there the whole time. The crazy part is after I’ve finished writing that single page or number of pages I feel I’ve earned the right to take a break and get out and live among the masses. This is when I enjoy taking that walk downtown and stopping for a burger and a beer at a local pub. I manage to walk among the living again, but only after earning that right by reading a few pages of the next Steve Berry novel or working on my next manuscript. Crazy, isn’t it?

Regardless of our obsession it’s important we learn when to get back to other important things. I wish I could give you the answer, but it’s probably different for each of us. That’s right. We all have to figure out the strategy that works for each of us. We need to take the dog for a walk, go grocery shopping, fold clothes, take the wife or husband, or girlfriend, or boyfriend out for a good time (not necessarily in this order). And we need to keep it together when life’s little intrusions keep us from following our routine.

Remember, some may agree with Stephen King’s to write is human, to edit is divine. I agree with him also how the pleasure of writing has given him stability in his home life. It has for me too, as well as driven me crazy when I can’t get a page in. I never suffer from writer’s block so much as the urge to write, but I know when I forget to live and enjoy the other things in life I go as crazy as not being able to write.

So remember, no matter how strong the urge is to write, paint, compose, or do whatever your obsession is (I hope it’s not pursuing an addiction to gamble or visit a tanning salon), don’t forget to enjoy the finer things in life. In short, don’t forget to live (Yes, I said it again). Now if you’ll excuse me, I came up with another idea for my book and have to get back to my notes.

….And then I’m off for a walk with the dog!

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