Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Full-Time Writer (An IWSG Post)

 
Hey everyone! It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for the latest edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Click on the above link and/or the graphic to the left for a complete list of participants.

***

I won't lie. I am freaking out a little.

I know it's so rare for me to be freaking out in any amount, but there it is: I am freaking out.

(Take a good look, kids, because you won't see that again. At least not until my next post.)

And this time, the reason I'm freaking out is that about a year ago, I became a full-time writer.

Note: this is not because I make a lot of money from writing. Or, you know, any money from writing. Other circumstances happened to play out in my favor to afford me this opportunity at this time. It could very easily end tomorrow. So, just know that I'm not secretly on a bestsellers list somewhere and just didn't mention it. Because I'm not on any list anywhere. Well, I did see that someone out in the world listed my novel, Effigy, as their Favorite Book Of All Time on a list of their Favorite Things that they publicly posted online for all to see. Which was incredibly sweet and flattering, and sure, I had to spend about 30 minutes afterwards hiding under my desk while breathing into a paper bag, (Yes, I have issues, I know) but I sincerely thank them from the very bottom of my heart for thinking me (or at least my work) worthy of such an honor.

Huh. I seem to have gotten off the topic—which, I know, never happens on this blog—so I'll see if I just can't meander my way back to my point. And then hurry along with the, you know, making of the point. 

(Sorry, gang—my brain's just a big bundle of unorganized oddity.)

The Point:

Being able to be a Full-Time Writer is the thing that writers everywhere dream about, right? Writing full-time—it's this beautiful, amazing promised land that we're all aiming to get to. It's the thing I said I wanted in that one job interview that one time.

Interviewer: If you had your retail dream come true, what would you be doing?

Me: Giving my two week notice, because I'm finally able to become a full-time writer.

So, here I am on Full-Time Writer Mountain at last, and I know I'm a gigantic jerky jerkface for saying/thinking this, but I don't entirely enjoy it. This wondrous, expansive vista on which I'm supposed to be feasting my eyes has been fogged in, and there's one simple reason why: I'm not sure I've ever been more stressed.

I just feel so much pressure to write, to produce, to publish, and every day that I don't publish a book is a day I feel I have failed as a Full-Time Writer. Which is, I know, a ridiculous feeling to have because no one publishes a book a day. 

(And if you do publish a book a day, I'm assuming you made a deal with a crossroads demon, and can I please have their number because that might be something I might interested in pursuing...)

I've been working on my current WIP for the last year. For the last two years. For the last 12,000 years. Okay, that last one may be a slight exaggeration, but the sentiment is accurate. I've been working on it for a long, long time, which makes sense because it's a gigantic, complicated book, and these things take time. I tell myself this every day—multiple times a day, even—keep pushing, keep working, stop worrying.

But it's the last part with which I have the hardest time.

Every day that this book remains unfinished, unpublished, is a day that I worry and stress. This worry and stress is like compound interest that just grows and grows and grows and compounds upon itself over and over again like those dust bunnies under my bed. 

And I don't know what to do about it. The worry and the stress, I mean. Not the dust bunnies.

So I turn to you, fellow writers...

Are you a Full-Time Writer? If so, does it stress you out, too? Do you feel the pressure, too? And if you said yes to either or both of those, what do you do to combat that stress? What do you do to damper that pressure?

What's your secret? Mellow jazz? Bongo drums? Huge bag of weed? (Name! That! Reference!)

TELL ME!! PLEASE!!

All right, after that exceptionally long and rambling post, I'm out of here. Thanks for coming by today and listening to/reading my latest freak-out. I'll try to be less crazy the next time...

Happy Wednesday, all!

37 comments:

  1. Oh man, I related to just about every word of this (especially the working on your WIP for 12,000 years thing...).
    I tried to be a full time writer and failed miserably. I thought I would take some time to just work on my WIP and for many reasons, it just didn't work out. So I'm probably the worst person to offer advice. But I will say this: just breathe! And take it one step at a time. That's the mindset I'm trying to follow, anyway. I'll let you know if it works.

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    1. The one step at a time thing is sooooo important, and I do try to keep my focus on that one thing, but in the back of my mind, my brain is always going, "hey, look at all these others you're NOT doing!"

      My brain is kind of jerk.

      Delete
  2. MJ, you always amuse me.
    I've never wanted to be a full time writer for that very reason - too much pressure.
    Keep the bag handy, keep writing, and try not to make any deals with the devil.
    And congratulations someone thought your book was the best ever!

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    1. Thanks, Alex—I always seek to entertain. :)

      And I will try not to make any deals with the devil. Fortunately, I have terrible follow-through.

      Delete
  3. But, you see, you have the whole day in which to do things that may or may not have an effect on your writing. You can get ideas running to the grocery store. Or an idea for a villain while dealing with a snarky (name someone you have to deal with). You don't have to sit at your desk 9 to 5 and slave away. You can just... be yourself, and be free to break off and write. But if someone says "Gee, I wish *I* had that problem, you may take your mace and go at them.

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    1. Yes, that used to be how it was. That ideas would come from the grocery store, or wherever I happened to be, and whatever I happened to be doing—but now when I'm out running errands, all I can think about how I'm getting any writing/publishing done.

      I should probably look into that big bag of weed I mentioned earlier. :)

      Thank you, too, for the permission to go at people with my mace (and I promise I will only do it under the circumstances you outlined above). That makes me smile.

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  4. Whoo hoo on someone loving your book! That's fantastic!

    Writing a novel is such a long process that any progress we make often gets lost. I find it helps to have some tangible writing projects to look back on at the end of the day/week to give a sense of accomplishment - getting scenes completed, blog posts written, stories subbed, etc.

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    1. Yes, it really is fantastic, even if every time I think about it I feel this pressure in my chest and my stomach starts performing back flips. (Issues. Big, serious issues.)

      I write a weekly list of goals that has lately said "Finish Revision List", but maybe I should be more specific to give myself the opportunity to cross off more things...

      Delete
  5. You freak out? Never! Your book is absolutely awesome. And yes, I'm a full-time writer, too, during the hours the kid isn't home. It's incredibly stressful. I never feel like I'm doing enough, and I'm certainly not making money from it. Though going out of my writing cave and into some joe job scares me. There's people out there! Some days I celebrate being a full-time writer. Other days, I want to just win the lottery and play video games.

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    Replies
    1. I know, right? I never freak out. This is such a new experience for me.

      And you're so right about the people. If I could get my favorite bakery to deliver, I might never leave the house. ;)

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  6. I think everyone is freaking out today.

    Full time writer is scary. They say to do something really well, you need to focus. But I don't think that works for everyone. Sometimes we need more than one focus. (Although I'm full time in 5 or 6 things and I don't recommend that either.)

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    1. Well, it is the first Wednesday of the month. :)

      I couldn't imagine being full-time in 5 or 6 things. For a few years, I was working full-time in retail, while also being a full time college student. That was harrowing enough for me.

      I salute you!

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  7. Congrats on someone listing your book as their fave, that had to be a thrill! But I had to laugh about breathing into a paper bag afterwards as I would have been the same way LOL.
    I've dreamed about being a full-time writer but then wondered if I'd ever be able to manage it because I'm such a procrastinator. I don't know if I would have the discipline. I think I would probably freak out just like you are so I have no advice, but I wish you the best with your project. You'll get there with it, I've no doubt.

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    1. I think there probably was a little thrill right before the absolute shock settled in...

      I'm a well-known procrastinator, but I honestly don't think I'm doing it this time. Maybe I am, and I just haven't realized it yet.

      Delete
  8. Ha! I'm able to write all day but I don't feel like a full-time writer because I'm busy doing everything else (blogging, editing, marketing, newsletters) that I don't write as much. As long as I reach my goals in one of these areas I feel as though I accomplished something that day.

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    1. I count blogging, or editing or marketing or newsletters (if I had one) as part of the full-time writer job. I've been editing and revising for two full months now. And occasionally, I do end a day feeling as thought I have accomplished something, that I have made progress. I just seldom feel as though I am make enough progress in a day. :)

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  9. What an awesome, AWESOME moment. These are what we live for, eh? I'm a 2-hours-a-day-if-I'm-lucky kind of writer. Still, other things have to get done around here. I can hardly imagine being a full-time writer, but I remember what it was like when I only had one kid and could binge a whole 5 hours in a single day to writing. Wow. How would that be? If you're having trouble with productivity, I think establishing a routine with regular breaks and other activities is a MUST.

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    1. I have no kids, but I have four of the neediest pets on the face of the earth. I constantly have to stop working every couple of hours to contend with their needs. Does that count as regular breaks and/or other activities? :)

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  10. Actually, that pressure is why I've never taken the plunge. That, and for a while, I was the sole income for my family... If I was home, I would feel guilty that I was working on writing instead of taking care of my kids, and how could I rationalize sending my kids to daycare if I was home, and AHHHHHH!!! So I just avoid it all by not going full-time.

    I hope you figure out a way around the pressure! You can do it. I know you can.

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  11. I'll admit I think I wrote faster/more/better when I at least had to balance my writing against taking care of the kids because they weren't in school yet. Now I'm home while they're at school, and I feel *less* productive and more guilty because of it. So I totally get you.

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  12. Joining the bandwagon here, but it's also my dream to one day be a full-time writer :). But maybe it's a case of 'the grass is greener on the other side'? If uni taught me anything, it's that I don't actually handle large amounts of unstructured time well - my anxiety goes into overdrive thinking about all the things I *should* be doing, instead of concentrating on the here and now. And if I do manage to write for a full day during the school holidays, I then feel guilty for not doing the housework or the food shopping or something.

    Every novel, and every author, is different, so don't beat yourself up if it seems to be taking longer than you'd like :). As for worry and stress - I take a break and read for half an hour, or bake, or just make a cup of tea and then return to my writing when I feel more refreshed :).

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  13. I am a full time writer. I don't get stressed but like you, I really wanted this. And surprising, it's not all fun. It's fricking work. So I sit my butt in the chair and work.

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  14. the secret is volume.
    After Margaret Weis accepted my friend request on FB, I chatted back and forth with her. I checked her sales on Amazon and was astonished to see some of her books in the same range as mine. Only her books number in the tens.
    gotta keep on truckin' and write, write, write.
    It sure ain't easy, is it?

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  15. Because I work from home I have more writing time than most writers with day jobs, which should be good, but it is stressful. Personally, I tend to feel guilty because my siblings have actual jobs and I spend most of my hours in front of the computer. I think you need to realize, that what you are doing is work. Slap the crap out of that nasty voice that makes you insecure and makes you feel stressed. You have nothing to worry about. Take your time getting your book in shape. It will be ready when it's ready. Congratulations on your book making someone's list. That is brilliant and definitely an honor. Just remember, you are made of awesome each time you want to flip out.

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  16. I'm currently a full time writer/artist, and yes, I'm stressed! SO. STRESSED. I'm nowhere near the point where I can be financially independent this way, and since I can't even land a "normal" job...there's just so much pressure to become prolific and successful NOW. But it doesn't happen, no matter how hard I work. And then I'll see it happen for other artists and feel like maybe it'd be better if I died instead.

    (Whoops, got a little too personal there. Sorry!)

    Anyway, yeah, I can definitely relate to your anxiety over this. I wish I could offer some advice on how to deal with it, but...uh, I obviously don't deal with my own very well, hahaha. Also, how exciting that someone listed Effigy as their all-time favorite book! You're obviously doing something right!

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  17. I'm a full time writer and yes, it is the most stressful job I've ever had. I think anything where you have to be self motivating is going to be that way. But perhaps you have the biggest rewards too, hopefully that's the way it will work out! Working out is how I relieve my stress. It's the only thing that really seems to get me out of my head! Thanks for visiting today and good luck!

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  18. I wish I had some way to make your stress vanish. I know you've been working hard. It's just your brain that's telling you it's not hard enough.

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  19. I'd make a terrible full-time writer. Instead of writing, I'll probably be sleeping twelve hours a day and vegging in front of the TV for the other twelve. I get very little done at home. You have a large, complicated book. These things take time, and you're still probably faster than GRRM. :)

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  20. LOL!
    I'm kind of a most-of-the-time writer. My home-schooling kids have gotten old (er, older); one is off at community college as a 16 year old, and the other is taking classes part-time at high school and adamantly does not want my help with anything other than handing her materials to read/do and then grading stuff. I teach classes at a home-school co-operative (one day a week, home-schoolers gather and take classes then they have home-work for the rest of the week), and then I write, and stress, and write.
    I've been putting a lot out there lately, but some of it's been building over three to eight, and some of it just isn't that complicated (book of 500 super simple writing prompts - um, five years of fiddling with ideas, then two weeks of sweating over formatting, and done).

    The Champion Trilogy started floating around my head back in 2008 . . . and it's finally finished, and it's relatively simplistic in plot and description. It worries me sometimes that it's simplistic, but it's where I am as a writer. I just have to own that.

    So, your novels with their depth and complexity are going to take longer than my little short things . . .

    You are an amazing writer! And, I suggest tea, stretching, and taking walks to de-stress.

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    1. three to eight years - I forgot that word "years"

      Delete
  21. I was a full time writer for 2 years because I couldn't find a job. I didn't like it, but a big part of that reason was because with hubby's job we were barely making ends meet and that was super stressful. There was a lot of pressure to produce writing because I wanted to sell books and contribute to our income.

    Now that I have a day job, I don't miss writing full time because it gets me out of the apartment and I don't have to worry about selling books to pay bills. It lets me relax so when I do sit down to write, that stress isn't bugging me.

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  22. I was a full time writer for 3 years when I was first learning to write. I wasted nearly all of it worrying about putting a word down wrong so I didn't really write until that last year. Then someone said to give myself permission to write crappy, that perfection came with the editing. Anywho, you should set a goal. What do you want to accomplish? Figure out your goal, then break it down into small, do-able bits so that you're completing a tiny bit of your goal every day/week until you reach the big goal. Then you don't need to stress.

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  23. Writing a book takes time. Especially your doorstops. And I remember all the angst you had over how long it took until you finally got your first book finished and out into the world. It takes as long as it takes.

    The thought I had as I read this was that maybe if you feel like you want to get more finished, you might try a short story or two. Or more. I know you have characters that might enjoy some time in the spotlight. They could be a bit of a distraction. Cut scenes that didn't work in the novel. And then send those to magazines or ezines. Or what's that site that has all those stories? It'll come to me later.

    Anyway, if you have a few short stories making the rounds, it might make you feel like you're accomplishing more. Just a thought.

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  24. I'm retired, and I love it! But I'm a full-time writer and very stressed out. I look at others who balance job, kids, home, and they're writing more than I am! 9 months ago I gave up TV so I could write more. Still waiting for the words to flow. Best decision I made - people like novellas (or short novels) and they're much easier to write. So now that I've finished my new (big) novel, I'm setting my sights on shorter, easier works. Good luck!

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  25. Thanks for the well wishes!
    Flu be gone - spring is almost upon us! Yay!

    Don't freak out - write it out! You'll settle into to your groove soon. But it's so easy to do (the freaking) when we expect so much from ourselves!

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  26. Movie reference: Stark to Banner in Avengers. :)

    Woman! You crack me up! It's okay. You will settle into it. Stop expecting so much of yourself.

    You'll get a groove on and then the words will flow!

    Heather

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  27. I loved the John Oliver Drumpf segment!

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