First appeared on Tracy Cooper-Posey, January 28, 2016
I wrote “11 Things I Wish I’d Known About Full Time Writing When I First Started Writing Novels” way back in 2009, when I was forced to full time writing by a sudden cessation of revenue. That’s pirate speak for “my job was cut”.
In January 2013 I added an update to the bottom of that post, to indicate that I’d returned to a full time job — forced back there by economics. The bills kept showing up.
I also linked to an update post from February 2013: “8 Things I Know About Part-Time Writing Now I’ve Written Full-Time“. That was all about how different writing with a day job is, once you’ve had a chance to experience full time writing. I also expressed the opinion that come hell or high water, I would get back to writing full time.
December 11 last year was my last day working the day job.
So I did get back to writing full time, and that is my current state of joy.
I thought it was time for another update. These posts have turned into an unintended series, chronicling the cycles of my writing career. So…
13 Things I Know About Writing Full Time Now I’m Back to Full Time Again
1. Money makes all the difference in the world.
The first time I was kick-started into writing full-time, I didn’t have any financial back-up at all. I had a severance cheque and that was it. I had to work on raising the level of my royalties to a livable amount before the cheque ran out.
That’s a huge amount of pressure, and if you fail (I did), it’s just horrible. When royalties go missing it’s even worse.
But this time around, I have a fall-back cushion of savings in place, and revenue on the sales of my books is already at a level that replaced my day job income.
That makes a huge, huge difference.
Quite simply, it’s the difference between being forced back to work a day job inside a year, and making writing my long term business.
2. You have to remember how to write full time.
I’ve been writing in scraps and bursts for five years now, squeezing a writing career that wanted to be full time in between a day job that was full time, and the minimal tolerable level of a life to balance them both out.
Now I get to write stories for at least five hours every day.
The first few days, I found those five hours a real stretch. My brain shut down after a couple of hours, and I had to take long-ish breaks before getting back to it.
But muscle-memory kicks in pretty quickly, and you’re back to looking at the clock, blinking, and wondering where the morning went to.
3. You’re a lot smarter about scheduling your time.
Between writing full time, writing part-time and wanting to write full-time once more, I’ve learned a lot about my writing habits, speed, and productivity.
I keep an eye on the clock (and before you point out that I get lost in the story, I have an alarm to bring me back to reality at noon each day). I am much more efficient about how I spend my time.
4. You’re even more determined to make it work, second time around.
I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to go back to a day job. I don’t want to think about it.
I’m just going to make this work. Whatever it takes.
5. Indie publishing makes all the difference in the world.
I so wish I had been indie publishing, or started indie publishing when I was forced to full-time in 2009. Alas, indie publishing didn’t evolve into a viable alternative to traditional publishing until around 2010…and I jumped into it with both feet in March 2011.
That has made the difference between…well, everything. It is what has made returning to full time possible. Cheques arrive faithfully on the day promised, and payments are monthly, for most booksellers.
I have full control over every aspect of the business, so pleading with publishing over promotions, publication dates and all that good stuff is no longer an issue.
6. The paperwork is crippling.
Many traditionally published authors don’t consider themselves to be a small business, even though in reality and in tax terms, they are.
When you’re indie published, though, you can’t escape that fact. The paperwork is endless, because everything flows across your desk that the traditional publisher used to take care of. Now you have contractors to deal with, and business bookkeeping to prepare.
7. You still have to plan to get out of the house.
I’m still fresh and eager, this round, but I can see how in a few weeks or months, getting out of the house will be an attractive idea.
Also, the weather is so miserable at the moment, that staying right here at my desk is far more attractive than cracking open the front door. Come summertime, though, that might change.
8. You have to workout regularly, especially now.
Everyone ages. Unavoidable fact.
Writing is sedentary. Also another upleasant fact.
Working out is mandatory, in order to combat both, and to also keep the ol’ brain-box ticking along smoothly, and the creative synapses firing with gusto.
Diet is also important and nothing impresses that fact upon you like a slowing metabolism….
9. No one thinks I don’t really work for a living, not any more.
The arrival of indie publishing and indie authors upon the scene, and their very open discussions about money, publishing, everything, means that many more readers are aware of the sweat and tears that go into writing fiction for a living. That information is still filtering out to the public, slowly, but surely, and that means I don’t have to explain myself to as many people.
Besides, everyone in my family knows the effort involved because I have been talking about it for years…since I got back to the day job and decided that there was no way I was going to stay there. So this time, when I quit, everyone was aware of it, and everyone understood exactly what it meant. And that’s such a nice place to be in.
10. The week still isn’t long enough.
The days zip by at mach speed.
Scientists have acknowledged for years that the experience of time is subjective and when you’re enjoying yourself, time really does seem to fly.
Oh, so true.
11. You still have to work your ass off.
It just doesn’t feel like work. I’ve had a few surreal moments where I’ve emerged from writing, or closed up the desk at the end of the day, stretched, and reflected on my enjoyment level, then realized that this is my job. That not only do I get to make up stories for a living, I am expected to.
12. You still have the coolest job and job title in the world.
…and this time, because the money is flowing properly, and everything about this business is under my control, when I am asked what I do for a living, I can look people in the eye and say “I’m an author” without mentally qualifying it in any way.
13. Once you’re fully addicted to writing fiction, it doesn’t go away.
This hasn’t changed from the first time I wrote full-time, but now I’m back to full-time again, I’ve been reminded of it a lot.
Getting lost in a story, and dreaming up the next one is so much fun…it’s exhilarating. And it doesn’t go away even when you can only write in your spare time, but writing full time feeds the habit and locks it in tight.
I can’t think of a better addiction to have than this one.
This collection of posts turned into a series without me intending it. Here’s the sequence, if you want to read from the beginning: