science fiction and fantasy author

In which I get annoyed at writing advice

I was reading through my rss feeds last night, as I am wont to do, and came across a piece of writing advice that I’ve seen many times:

“Don’t have time to write?  Get up an hour earlier – or better, two hours earlier – and write!”

I do know that this works for some people, but it’s just struck me this morning how damn ableist this kind of advice is.

For example, you have someone like me.  I deal with chronic illness on a daily basis, and to manage the worst of the illness, I need to move, I need to eat vaguely decently, I need to rest.

If I forced myself to get up an hour or two earlier to write, I would be a wreck.  I hate that I need more sleep than most people.  Ideally, I need about nine or ten hours a night.  Most nights I get about eight.  I can coast on one night of six or seven, but it hurts.  Anything less than that, and I am not functional.

I know it’s a pretty obvious thing to complain about, but I am complaining anyway.  I always feel like people who dole out this kind of advice are implying that if you can’t sacrifice sleep to write, then you’re just not determined enough to be a writer, dammit.  It’s a great idea if you can manage it without sacrificing your health (and that goes for people without chronic illness as well), but it’s not the only way.

Writing is a priority for me, but so is my family and my health.  There has to be a balance.




In which I am snapshotted!


  1. Cass

    This kind of advice drives me batty as well. Like you I feel I have the determination to be writer but I also have health problems and a family that require a good chunk of my time. So you are right, not all of us can make the same scarfices; we each have to find the balance that works best for our own situation. Just wanted to let you know you are not the only one. 🙂

  2. Cool post. It’s amazing how sometimes the people with the loudest voices are the ones that should be listened to least.

    My thoughts are that unless someone is being lazy, then it’s just really bad advice. I mean, if you get up earlier it probably doesn’t create more time it just shifts priorities. So instead of doing something at night, you go to bed earlier to be able to get up earlier. And maybe the thing that you’re doing at night is really important.

    I agree that it’s ableist, but it’s also just heartless. It says, “I have time to write and if you don’t then you don’t care enough.” You can care about writing a lot but if it’s not paying bills then people probably don’t get to choose how much time they spend on it.

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