When a writer says she writes for 10 to 12 hours a day and has a full-time “day job,” I have to wonder: How in the hell does she manage that? Does she sleep, eat, shower? I work 40 hours a week at my “day job.” (Because I haven’t made any money to speak of on the fiction writing side of things yet, maybe I should just call the “day job” my job.)
Monday: Peel myself away from bed at 6:30 a.m. Shower, perform minimal beautifying routine, and drive for an hour. (If I could shower in the car that would give me an extra 30 minutes!) Work 8-4:30. Pick up daughter and arrive home at about 6 p.m. Well, that’s half the day gone. Then there’s dinner for myself and baby girl, crap needs to be done so the house doesn’t attract flies, and a few hours later, I fall into bed. Repeat Tuesday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday – surely I can write for 10 to 12 hours each of those days. Right? (Jabbing you in the ribs, right, right? Wink. Wink.) No. Most of my “free” hours are spent doing laundry, chores, grocery shopping, and caring for my baby girl -- oh and sleeping.
Here’s how my typical Saturday “writing day” went: Woke up, fed self, fed baby, sat in front of computer and began to write. I was able to bang out about 1,000 words over a couple of hours of writing time, interspersed with at least three diaper changes and other interruptions. A good writing day for me.
Don’t misunderstand – I’m not whining (okay, maybe just a little). I love my daughters, husband, and spoiled dogs. I have a roof over my head, food to eat, a decent car, and a job that pays the bills/provides health insurance. I have all of my teeth and a body that is reasonably well-functioning.
If you can churn out a novel in a month or less, and have your ass glued to a chair for 10 to 12 hours a day, congratulations (cha-ching). But most likely you do not have children. As Maury would say: With 99.99 percent certainty, you are not the father (or mother). Side note: I have been a mother since the ripe old age of 17. So, know this before you say I should have sown my writing oats before I became I mother.
What I’m saying is: A novel-completion timeline for me is realistically more like a year, 12 whole months. Now, I need to get back to work. Never forget that: Writing is WORK.
If you have a full-time job (aside from writing) and have children, what is your writing schedule?
A few months ago, I bought a Nook (my Mother’s Day gift to myself from myself). This led to an epiphany – not an epiphany that my husband needs to buy me a gift next year. No, this was much bigger picture. I don’t need an agent or contract or publisher to do the very thing I have always dreamed of doing: Be a writer.
Now, let me clarify. I have always wanted to be a writer. I remember being seven and writing my first short story about a wizard. (Damn, missed the boat on that one.) At the tender and strange age of 10, I recall binding my first short story collection into a red folder, complete with my own cut-out cover art glued on the front. It was called “Satan’s Children and Other Stories.” Yes, I realize if anyone had seen it, this would have meant years of therapy for me. (Don’t worry – no children were harmed in the making of any of my stories.) I tried my hand at my first novel at age 12. What I’m getting to is this: I am a writer. That is me. I’m not sure I exist without it, maybe as a placeholder, a kind of flesh and bone shell. But with pen in hand, I exist. I live to tell stories, and I can do that without being the next big thing.
So, I’ve been reading about self-publishing successes. Unknown writers who burst onto the scene (screen) and sold a billion copies of their books and were able to quit their day jobs, all while laughing their asses off at their former cube monkey friends and preceding their announcement with a cannon aimed straight at the boss’s desk, shooting confetti made from hundred dollar bills. Or maybe they just made enough money to give up the day job. Ultimately, that is what I’d like to do: Quit the day job and focus my energy and effort on writing full-time.
I tell stories because it’s what I do. I’m not going to whip out a novel every month. That’s just not how I operate. But what I can learn from those super-speedy authors is discipline – putting words on paper each and every day, so help me God. I’ll self-publish and see how it goes. My expectations for my work are high, but my expectations for the hundred-dollar-bill-confetti cannon are reasonably low.