Have you ever wondered what a writer actually does with their time? I was talking to someone recently about running groups for writers and how that part of my work fits with other elements of what I do. I noticed a look of what I took to be confusion crossing her face. She had thought that the two hours I had just spent running a workshop was the only thing I did all week.
I call myself ‘writer’ because it is the short and easy answer to the question ‘what do you do?’ The long but accurate answer goes something like this: ‘I’m a writerprojectmanagerpublicistadministratorplannertherapisteditortutoraccountantreader advisornegotiatorbookreviewercopywriterwebcontentproviderfundraiserfiler.’
If I try to say it in one breath, I fall over.
Take this current week. By Friday evening I will have read a 30,000 word manuscript with a view to advising on how to develop it. I will have written content for several websites and sent it out into the ether. I will have sourced supplies for the new writing retreat I am running with Kath Morgan from 17-21 November. I will have been in touch with students for two courses I am running. I will have produced publicity flyers for local writing workshops and a competition in my local area. I will have given serious thought to the Orchard Foundation Level 1 weekend course I am co-facilitating in Bristol on 29-30 November. I will have visited an established group of writers in search of a new facilitator and hope they enjoy meeting me as much as I enjoy meeting them.
I will have taken a peak at a novel in progress, which someone has sent me with a view to seeking one to one tuition. I will have Tweeted and Facebooked on various things that interest and amuse me, getting as much cross-fertilisation between social media platforms as possible. I will have spent a day with members of the Cornwall branch of Lapidus, working on plans for a campaign to promote writing for wellbeing in 2015. If I’m lucky I will have sorted out the three-act structure of my own piece of draft fiction, in my head if not on paper, although that may have to wait until the weekend.
With luck I will have shaken off a stubborn head cold and cleaned the house. I can’t promise to have done the ironing. I certainly won’t have touched the heap of filing that was the result of last week’s heroic effort to get my tax information off to my accountant, and I almost certainly will not have had a chance to pick up the book I am reviewing for the next issue of the Cruse Bereavement Care journal. That is on next week’s to do list.
No two weeks or even days are the same. It strikes me that the alternative to ‘writer’ would be ‘all-round multi-tasker’, a symptom of the times we live in ,perhaps, in which to be a writer working in the community (as opposed to academia or more commercial settings), is to be constantly networking, managing multiple projects, working across disciplines and seizing every opportunity to do what we do.
Try fitting that on a business card.