The answer to that is simple: of course not.
Writers are the same as everyone else, with the same joys and sorrows, dreams and fears. We have jobs, friends, family, stresses and pressures, bills to pay, decisions to make, homes to keep in (some) order, free time and holidays, maybe cars and gardens to maintain. We experience inclement weather, train delays, industrial action or political change just as everyone else. Being a writer doesn’t mean the river Thames won’t flood into your back garden.
We’re not celebrities (well, most of us aren’t). We live our lives in obscurity and rarely get recognised in the street because of the job we do.
But there’s one small area where we do differ from others: we’re always working.
A writer friend told me once that she was lying on her bed staring at the ceiling when her husband walked in and asked her a mundane household question.
Enraged, she snapped, “Oh, go away, I’m working!”
“But… but you’re just lying there,” he replied, nonplussed.
“Yes, I’m working. In my head.”
I nod with recognition at this scenario. I never switch off either, not even at night. That’s why I have pen and paper at the ready on my bedside table for when I wake up in the early hours with an important plot point which I must write down immediately because it’s guaranteed that I won’t remember it in the morning.
This note-taking isn’t limited to night time. Throughout the day I’m constantly thinking about my characters and their situation, and I’ll be people-watching if I’m out somewhere, eaves-dropping on conversations and writing things down on whatever I can find: till receipts, napkins, leaflets etc. Once I took notes of an entire conversation between two people who sat behind me on the bus (as much as I could capture as I don’t do 100wpm shorthand…).
Some might regard this as borderline spying – I don’t see it that way. I’ll probably never meet these people again, and if I do, it’s unlikely that I would connect them with my note-taking, nor would they recognise themselves if they read my book. For me it’s about the human condition in all its triviality, getting an insight into people’s personalities, and then sharing this insight on the page. It’s not about judging or feeling superior, but simply about learning.
So if you see me sitting on a park bench staring at nothing in particular and looking pensive, it’s not because I’m sad or lonely; I’m actually working!