In a writers’ forum, I was recently asked how a person can go full-time as a writer. I don’t have a good answer for that as you must be able to pay your bills, or no books will ever be written.
Most writers are hobbyists. This is because if one intends to be a full-time writer, one must have an income.
I am a full-time writer. I have regular office hours for writing, and I’m retired from my career in Corporate America.
For many years I was a hobbyist, writing when I had a chance and devoting my life to my job and raising a family.
Some people manage to fit short bursts of writing into their daily schedule, writing at work while on break or at lunch. Others must schedule a dedicated block of time for writing by either rising two hours before they must depart for work or by skipping TV in the evening.
When I was working, I fell into both categories. A happy life is all about balance. My family always came first, so I arranged my writing time around their schedules.
When I am in the planning stage of a novel or story, I find myself stopping whatever I’m doing and making notes, quickly getting down any thoughts that occur. This is a habit I developed when I was employed outside my home.
Until 2012, I was like everyone else, with a job and commitments that took precedence over any writing I might have wanted to do.
I saw very little television in those days. Evenings and weekends were my only time for writing, making art, or reading.
Now that I’m retired from working outside my home, six in the morning until noon is my best time to write. However, being retired means you are always available when a crisis occurs.
Events occur, disturbing my writing schedule, but I usually forgive the perpetrators and allow them to live. At that point, I revert to writing whenever I have a free moment.
I’m a less than enthusiastic housekeeper even when not writing, but I keep things sort of under control. These are the tasks everyone does, chores that keep our homes livable.
I squeeze housekeeping chores into my writing time the way I used to fit writing into my working life.
Dinner at the table was the one meeting place for my family during the blender years of child-rearing.
I tend to do the cooking, and dinner hits the table at 5:00 pm. If you aren’t there on time, I will give you the evil eye for the rest of your life or the evening, whichever ends first.
Balance is the key to a happy life. We want to feel productive and creative, and we want to share our lives and interests with others.
Creativity applies to everything from making a meal, to painting, to generating a business plan—your spouse or child’s creative bent may be wildly different from yours, but you must be supportive.
Therefore, we who write must make time to write. This allows us to be creative and still support our families, who all have activities and interests of their own.
As I have said many times before, being a writer is to be supremely selfish about every aspect of life, including family time.
It also requires discipline and the ability to set aside an hour or so just for that pursuit, a little time where no one is allowed to disturb you.
A good way to make sure you have that time is to encourage your family members to use that time to indulge in their interests and artistic endeavors.
That way, everyone has the chance to be creative in their own way, and they will understand why you value your writing time so much.