The rule is this: You don't have to do anything you don't want to do.
Every day there are a few hours in between my two jobs that I ply with line items from my to-do list. Go for a walk, put away the dishes, switch the laundry, read a short story, write something—anything—by way of fiction. These hours, on average, are around five. Five hours in between Job A and Job B, both of which have me—miraculously!—writing, and neither of which have drained me of my desire to write.
Don't believe people who tell you that making money doing the thing you love will take the joy out of it.
Because the only thing that has drained me of my desire to write are those five hours and that list of things that has to get done. Each day I manage to get one of those things done: I workout or I do laundry or I throw dinner in the slow cooker. But the one thing I never do is write. Not once. Not even though the story ideas are fighting for room in my head so hard that I repeat them over and over again like a list of groceries I can't forget or they will be lost forever.
Other things you shouldn't believe:
- People who tell you that hard work pays off, because some times it doesn't.
- People who tell you that they knew from the moment they met their partner that they were going to marry them.
- People who tell you that sex goes away after a few years together, like the name of a street you used to drive down everyday after you move.
- People who say that the only way to be a writer is to write.
So the rule is this: You don't have to do anything you don't want to do. But you do have to sit in that beautiful room you've created for reading and writing, with all of your books and your white desk and the chair in the corner that Jamie sometimes sits in while you are working and calls "the therapy chair," which you love because you have never loved being interrupted more. For the time in between Job A and Job B, you will sit in that room without access to social media and you will only do what you want to do.
So today I am here. I have shown up in this room and have read two short stories, have outlined the beginning of a book review, have had two cups of coffee, have looked pictures of my last summer at Bread Loaf, and have checked on my dog three times because he is still sleeping even though the windows are open and they are cutting down trees across the street and normally this is just the thing that would have him awake and on high alert.
Three hours into it and I am writing.
Don't believe the people who tell you to produce something—anything—even when you don't want to.
Sometimes these things take time.