“Don’t give up the day job!”
We’ve all heard it, and most of us need to abide by it.
Unless we are lucky enough to get that big break (and I mean, big), few writers can earn a decent living by writing and doing nothing else.
A couple of authors (past and present members) in the writer’s group I work with have gained decent publishing deals, yet still have ‘day jobs’ or they’d starve!
Liz Williams http://mevennen.livejournal.com/ has a whole range of books published, but runs a wtichcraft shop and lectures on writing.
Cherith Baldry http://amzn.to/10Xhdsr also has a whole heap of books in print, both under her own name and also as one of the authors writing as Erin Hunter http://amzn.to/ZvVGoq , and yet she still marks English exam papers for extra income.
For me, I fit my writing around my time-consuming job of training competition horses and riders. That means I’m out on the road most of the day, 6 days a week. But I’ve learned to make the most of my time.
I plot while I’m driving. I don’t have any less attention on my driving than if I was in conversation with someone sitting beside me – I just converse with my characters. Often snippets of dialogue pop into my head, as well as whole plot strands, and next time I pull over, at a garage for a coffee, or at my destination, I take a moment to make an audio recording on my phone. I used to keep a tiny journalist’s recorder with me, but the phone does the job these days and audio is so much quicker than writing or typing – it also means I can listen to it at home, and if it sounds naf then it probably is!
For a long time I avoided getting a smartphone, thinking it would make me even more accessible and bite into my time, but now I have one, I love it! I can delete emails during the day, read posts over lunch while I’m out, and generally make a drastic cut in the stuff I’d have to deal with in the evening if I didn’t have it. I do make the point of rarely going on Twitter or Facebook though, unless to answer a message.
I like to watch TV – much of my inspiration comes from visual media, so I record all the series I love and watch them while eating supper. If I’m only keeping half an eye on something I might even bring the laptop over and go on facebook at the same time. I guess that can be classed as mulit-taking.
And so, to work. I try to get my emails out of the way before I cook, then after supper (and tv) and, groan, washing up, I sit down to write. I developed this habit at Uni, starting my ficition writing after finishing course work, and it stuck. I do my best writing after dark (less distractions) and in the wee small hours (more evocative, somehow).
I don’t work to a set word count when I’m writing fiction – it comes at its own pace. When I’m on a deadline for a non-fiction book I try to produce 2.5K words a week – my publisher gives me 14 months to finish a manuscript as, in their words, “We know you still have to earn a living.”
The last 15 minutes of my working day are a quick review of my blog, facebook and Twitter (I did Goodreads with my emails). I’ve had to learn to be time-strict with myself as I find Twitter addictive. And so to bed – and a chapter or two of whatever I’m reading before lilghts out…
So how about you? Do you have time saving methods of fitting your writing in around your living?