What else can you be doing? Everything. Everything will always want to come first. Everything will seduce you. Everything will tell you that you should not be writing. You should be living, or having friends, or buying books, or talking about books with other people who should be writing. If you let it everything will get in the way when you put everything first.
Writing takes dedication and time you probably don’t have. It took me over five years to write my first published short story. There was a lot of things going on in my life. The short story is roughly 70 pages. That’s 0.038 pages a day, at an average of 9.72 words a day. My life was never that busy.
“If you want something done ask a busy person to do it.” – Lucille Ball
These days I average 1,021 words a day and my life is a lot busier. At this rate I would have gotten the first draft done in a little over 17 days. That’s an incredible savings of 1,808 days. Today I get a better return on my investment. This will eventually do wonders for my portfolio.
And yes, you should have a portfolio, or a catalog, if you’re serious about making a living at your craft. That just means you need a lot of books. This is going to take some serious time. And you only find serious time if you have serious dedication.
In the days where I whispered out 0.038 words a day I referred to my writing as an art form. Today I value craft and hard work over art. Craft has value, whereas art has esteem. Of course, this is a gross oversimplification/generalization, as I still believe in art very much. But my point is, that if I had treated my art as a craft, I might have gotten around to it more and not just when my subconscious screamed at me in order to get me to write.
I used to blame my not-writing on the illusive muse. I still hear writers talking like this (time is a relative beast), but what I really hear is an excuse. I too once lacked dedication. But now, I have no more delusions. If I am going to write something worth reading, I have to put in the time. And the more time I put in the more my writing will be worth reading.