I couldn't take a "proper job" this summer because I'm leaving in July for foreign shores. Instead I've been spending time working on my writing. I've been editing existing work, drafting new ideas, getting articles together for magazines, etc.
Still, many of my friends and family are of the opinion I'm not doing anything. I guess working as a writer looks a little different than working does for most people. Just because I didn't pull a nine to five shift today doesn't mean I've been wasting my time. He's a guide to how people can tell when writers are working.
-If I am grumbling while sorting through a pile of pages, especially with post-its and highlighters at hand: I am working.
-If I am tapping away at my laptop keyboard, occasionally taking an agonizing pause: I am working.
-If I am browsing agent and publisher websites, jotting notes and book-marking pages: I am working.
-If I am reading reference books or even novels (especially from the genre I'm currently writing in): I am working.
-If I'm just sitting on the porch in the dark, in the rain, listening to depressing or bizarre indie music: I am probably working.
-If I'm staring into the steam rising from my coffee cup: I am probably working.
-If I'm talking to that weird old wino standing at the bar: I am working.
-If I'm watching people in public place, catching snatches of their conversations: I am working.
-If I went ambling in the woods for an hour: I was working.
-If I'm watching television: Okay, I'm not working.
I think that in most creative fields, everything you do is working in some ways. Some days you go out and get inspiration from unexpected sources. Other days you have to toil through edits and queries. It is a different kind of work than many day jobs. In some ways it's harder because you don't get paid for all the hours you put in, at least not until much later when someone publishes something you wrote.
Starting next summer I won't have the luxury of dedicating so much time to my writing anymore. I'll have to be looking for something with a steadier paycheck. I just hope that whatever it is, it allows me to be creative.