When I started writing, my sons were young. They left for school in the morning, and I plopped down on my bed and wrote my first novel by hand. It took me about thirteen months to finish and then transfer to a word processor. At least I thought it was finished, yet now I know it needed about ten good turns of editing. I sent it to a few editors and by the time I received the rejection slips, I had a job.
For years I’d dreamed of selling a book and then retiring from my day job. I could just imagine myself cranking out page after page, taking a break to have chocolate, and then back to the page once more. Life couldn’t get better than that, I believed.
But something happened along the way; I started to really enjoy my day job. Good thing, because I hadn’t sold that one book to get me propelled into stardom! Still, I loved writing and tapped away at it when I could.
I learned more about writing from good critique partners, and sold the third manuscript I’d written, then the fourth. Somewhere along the line, I learned that it’s very hard to quit your day job to be a full-time writer, unless you’re bestselling author Dean Koontz, or Nora Roberts.
Over time, I lost my longing to be a full-time writer, probably because it was nigh impossible. After trial and error, I learned how to work and write until twists and turns in the road had my husband retiring early. I, too, had enough years to draw my pension.
By this time, retirement meant many things to me. I’d lost sight of that young woman sitting on the bed writing by hand. I now had a chance to do the things that were limited due to my time at work. I could read, cook, travel, see family more often, sew and sleep in. And I still wanted to keep my hand in education and presently work part-time.
So, I cut down my work week by hours, twenty-two to be exact. Did I mention I have my summers off? I can travel during the summer. I’m making a homemade pizza tonight. I can sleep in tomorrow morning. Sure, this all takes me away from my writing, plus I noticed something else. I’m not alone sitting on my bed writing as in the old days. My husband is here with me most of the time. He likes to watch television or movies and guess who gets side-tracked?
There is so much more involved with a writing career today. Marketing oneself, and book, is required for almost all writers these days. One must have a website and blog updated regularly. I’d been spending time with this lately, too. If you’re not careful it sucks a large amount of time every day.
I heard a saying that makes a lot of sense to me. If you need something done, ask a busy person to do it. I got just as much writing done when I was working full-time at my day job, than I did retired or semi-retired. Many busy people know they have time limits and get things done in a more organized manner. They just do it. Since retiring I’ve been saying to myself that I can do it tomorrow. That’s wrong, I know now. A plan is necessary no matter how much time you have.
Leaving your day job to write is not the answer to everything. You will still have to plan your day, and your writing time. If you don’t your time will wither away, and you’ll have nothing to show for it.
My new retirement plan (excuse me, semi-retirement plan), is to take my laptop into a separate room for a period of the day, on a regular basis. Wake up just a little bit earlier, on a regular basis. Plan out my manuscript in sections, on a regular basis. Take my AlphaSmart or computer with me when I travel and use it, on a regular basis. Limit the time I spend online on a regular basis, even if it is for promotion. I’ll let you know how it goes.