When I started my writing journey, it was just something fun and creative to do with my free time. I finally realized that writing isn’t just a hobby, it’s my passion.
Like a lot of aspiring writers, I have to work a full time job to support myself until I become fortunate enough to earn a living being a full time writer. I have to confess, I use work time to write. (Please don’t tell my boss). Even though I can sneak off to be with my characters when I should be number crunching as an accounting assistant, sometimes there are days when I can’t break away and write. Sometimes, even if I manage to, my mind is so bombarded with other things that nothing trickles onto the page. As a result of not being able to write, I get agitated and depressed, but it’s not the physical act of writing itself I long for, it’s the time spent with my characters in their world.
Characters are like children. You conceive the thought of them, and when you decide what age and gender they are, they’re born into your world. You give them a name, their looks, personality, style, and vocabulary. You’re spending weeks, months, even years with these characters nurturing them and this world that you’ve created for them. Sooner or later, they become like family. What happens when you’re separated from your family for a any length of time? You feel lonely, sad, even depressed because you miss them, right? It’s the same feeling you get when you can’t work on your writing project.
No matter what else you’re doing, you start to feel guilty that you aren’t writing. It nags at you until eventually, you cancel social activities to stay home and write. You stop watching movies or TV in the capacity that you used to because why spend time endorsing someone else’s successful project when you could be working on yours? When you finally do hold a conversation with a real person, you spend the entire time thinking that this person isn’t as interesting as your main character, leaving you screaming in your head can you shut up and go away so I can write, please?
The emotional attachment to your work will put a serious damper on your social life. Eventually, you will start to classify people in your life as regular friends vs. writer friends. When your regular friends don’t understand that you’re tired and can’t hang out today because your characters woke you up at 2am to discuss potential plot twists, you seek out what’s called writer friends. Writer friends get it. They understand all of the above mentioned issues and then some. Once you find your writer friends, you’ll start to only do social things with them, because let’s face it, if they’re anything like you, the social activity will turn into a writing discussion, you’ll label it as research and the guilt will go away.
And dating? Come on, like a real guy or girl is a half as fun or interesting as the one you made up. (Eh hem, cough cough)
Before you go running out the door to check yourself into therapy, remember that the emotional attachment can be a good thing, too.The fact that you care so much about your work and are emotionally invested means that you’ll want the best for it when it’s completed and needs to be set free into the big scary world of publishing. You won’t settle for pushing it out to just anyone without doing research first, just like you won’t send your child off to any old college when the time is right. You’ll find that the method of getting your precious literary child out of the nest will be well planned and will be best for their overall needs.
What’s that? You now have literary empty nest syndrome? Just get some strong coffee and start working on the sequel!