This topic has come up several times in the past few days. It's strange how something you barely think about from one week to the next suddenly jumps out in front of you. When I was doing psychology/philosophy stuff years ago, the theory was that "the thing" was always there - the difference was that something in your life made you notice it. Today, it was our second year novel writing class. One of the students had only written 15 words this week, and seemed to think that was OK. Nup. Not if you want to be a novel writer.
I haven't been writing for a few weeks now. I needed a healthy break. Of course, what happened was I ended up writing poems instead of fiction, plus I did some journalling. I still felt like I wasn't really writing, because I wasn't producing 3000-5000 words a week. Now I have started again, simply because I couldn't stand not writing anymore. The urge got bigger and bigger, and finally I opened the laptop and began. Feeling, as usual, like what I was writing was awful, but words on the page are words to work with.
Today my email newsletter arrived from Margie Lawson and Mary Buckham. (It's free, by the way.) It included an interview with a writer called Lois Faye Dyer. I'd never heard of her before (I don't read her genre) but she said something that rang a bell to clang along with the other things I've been thinking and hearing. "Too many writers don't spend enough time writing. A writer writes. Full stop. ... Finish a book a year, a whole book, not just the first three chapters and a plot synopsis."
I know there are literary writers who regularly take 2-3 years to write a novel. That's not the point. The point is - they are still writing regularly, and probably every day. Andrea Goldsmith has been a full-time novelist for many years. I've heard her talk about her writing life - it includes reading, thinking, planning and writing, as well as lots of rewriting. All the time. It's her career. Those of us who have day jobs have to fit our writing around what pays the bills. But we still write regularly, we produce words - lots of them - and we rewrite lots of them.
That's how a book gets written. And the next one. And the next one. By writing, regularly, by giving up other things in order to put words on the page, by understanding that only by writing are you a writer. Thinking about it doesn't count.