The Writing Life
Charlotte Rains Dixon  

What Do You Give Up to Write?

Funny story: I've had this  blog post in mind for the last few days.  And then when it was time for me to sit down and write it, my blog host, Typepad, had two DOS (denial of service–I looked it up) attacks, on Thursday night and Friday morning.  So I had to give up the chance to write it for a while. And because Typepad was out all morning and now I don't have as much time as planned, this will be a short post.  (Of course, I often say that and then run on.  And on. And on.)



Mindless types who have not given their all to writing.

Years ago, I heard an author (whose name has been lost to the mists of time) say, that in order to write a novel, "You have to be willing to give up sunny days." 

That might not mean as much to those of you who live in climates that are sunny year-round, but here in Portland where it rains a lot, it's practically a law that on a sunny day you have to be outside.  

And so this author had given up her sunny days in order to stay inside and write.  And her comment has stuck with me all these years.  

I wonder what all of us have given up to write.  Maybe:


Maybe for some of us, its the higher income we'd have if we had a full-time job.  And then there's the fact that writers can shell out a lot of money for classes and conferences, not to mention computers and paper and notebooks and pens.


For most of us, this is the biggie.  Because, as we well know, books and articles and stories do not write themselves.  So we have to make time for them to get written.  Time that might otherwise be spent watching the shows everyone is talking about, like Game of Thrones.  Time you might share with family members or friends.  Time cleaning house or organizing closets or doing laundry.


Have you ever declined a social invitation in favor of writing?  And then if you explain to your friends why you've declined they say, "You need to get out and have some fun."  And you say, "But writing is fun."  And they think you're nuts?  Yeah, me too.  But we've all probably given up a chance to have other kinds of fun.


Kidding.  Sort of.

Why Writing is Worth It

I just realized that this post is starting to sound a bit negative–like, poor us, we have to give up so much in order to ply our beloved trade.  But I don't mean it that way at all, I really don't. Believe it or not, I conceived this post as a sort of celebration of what we've let go in order to succeed as writers. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But there's a lot of power in choosing how we want to spend our time.  So many people don't–they fill their days with mindless activities that they aren't fully invested in.  

But we choose to spend our time honing words and telling stories.  I've shared this quote before, but I love it so much, so here goes again.  It's from Christopher Vogler, The Writer's Journey (one of my favorite writing books ever):

"But take hope, for writing is magic.  Even the simplest act of writing is almost supernatural, on the borderline with telepathy.  Just think: We can make a few abstract marks on a piece of paper in a certain order and someone a world away and a thousand years from now can know our deepest thoughts.  The boundaries of space and time and even the limitations of death can be transcended."

And that, my friends, is why writing is worth it.

What have you given up to write?  

 Photo by lemort.

0 thoughts on “What Do You Give Up to Write?

  1. J.D.

    Yes Charlotte, your start is way too negative. lol. You make up for it with the quote from Christopher Vogler. That applies in so many ways to what I think, dream, and put on paper.

  2. Charlotte Dixon

    I'm glad you like the quote as much as I do! It's my favorite ever!

    Sent from my iPhone

  3. Rebecca

    I haven’t really given up anything to write, instead I have learned how to delegate and involve the family more with things so I have less to do and can spend more time writing and not feel guilty about it.

  4. Rebecca

    I love Emma Jean and the book, it’s great. Hopefully soon, posting a review at Amazon.

  5. Don Williams

    It’s certainly true that we have to give up something to write, but I rather think of what I get out of writing rather than what I give up and that includes the satisfaction of doing something to the best of my abilities.

  6. Charlotte Dixon

    That's great, Rebecca.  I need to get better at delegating–especially when it comes to housework!

  7. Charlotte Dixon

    Oh thank you so much!  I love hearing it, and I'd love it if you have a chance to post a review!

  8. Ariane Hopman

    This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately (pertaining to writing my blog, but also many other things) and I often remember this beloved quote by Mr. Thoreau – “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” I think this is a great measuring stick and one that writing clearly measures up to.

  9. Charlotte Dixon

    Well put, Don.  You said exactly what I was trying to get at.

    And guess what?  You didn't get stuck in the Spam file this time.  Yay!

  10. Charlotte Dixon

    That is such a wonderful quote!  It sums everything up perfectly!  Thank you so much for sharing it.

  11. Ledger D' Main

    Write Write

    While writing in my broken down shack
    It was quite a surprise
    I found myself in an Ogden Nash ramble
    Verses in three-quarter beat, quite a surprise
    Thu the night that guy kept me up
    He kept on moaning. Write, write now rewrite
    I’ll show him what I can do in my broken down shack
    It’s not just a place to store wheat and corn
    Write write. Write! Write! Write write. Write! Rewrite!
    The ghostly chorus went write write write. Write! Write!

    I pushed my quill till its nib was no more
    Whoa that guy was making me shake
    That Ogden Nash ramble caused me to quiver
    He wouldn’t relent, I began to quake
    He must of thought it needed more ands and buts
    As he kept on tooting his reframe. Write! Write!
    I’ll show him what I can do in my broken down shack
    It’s not just a place to store wheat and corn
    Write write. Write! Write! Write Write. Write! Rewrite!
    The ghostly chorus went write write. Write! Write!

    My quill went into an eternal gear
    And took off in a black ink flowing rush
    Soon I thought I could do this nightly
    I must have left his prose in the dust
    When I looked up to dip my nib in the jar
    I couldn’t believe my eyes
    That Ogden Nash rambled right behind me
    That Ogden was an annoying spirit guy
    Write write. Write! Write! Write write. Write! Rewrite!
    The ghostly chorus went, write write write.

    Now I’m writing everything over again and again and again
    It certainly was an exhausting pace
    A race it would be, that Nash rambler and me, sadly
    I couldn’t let up and fall in disgrace
    That guy must’ve wanted to show me up
    As he kept on tooting his reframe. Write! Write!
    I’ll show him what I can do in my broken down shack
    It’s not just a place to store wheat and corn
    Write write. Write! Write! Write write. Write! Rewrite!
    The ghostly chorus went, write write write.

    Now I’m doing sixty words a minute and the well ain’t empty
    It was as fast as I could go
    Then that Nash rambler sat right beside me
    As if he had something more to show
    Then leaned in real close as if he was a decent fellow
    And whispered for me to hear
    “Hey, Buddy, only vampires and zombies will be published this year!”
    Write! Write! Write! Write! Write! Rewrite!

  12. Charlotte Dixon

    I heard a rumor Vampires and Zombies are passe, outre, old-fashioned, out of date, no longer selling.  So you might as well keep on writing!

  13. Zan Marie

    Time! You nailed mine!

  14. Charlotte Dixon

    Mine, too, Zan Marie.  And–you're my first commenter after Typepad was out for days–yay!  Its great to be back.

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