The last time I went to a book club meeting to speak about All the Pretty Bones I mentioned my day job. The reaction was flattering. People thought I would be writing full time with a novel out the door. The sad reality is that the medium income of novelists was estimated at $5,000 per year with over a third of published authors under $500 per year. I joke that my royalty checks are my means to support my book habit, but I'm not even there yet.
Notice I said "yet." I'm not sure if it's optimism or my stubborn streak, but I'm determined to keep working at it. I also intend to keep working full time to maintain our standard of living until I make it as an author.
Finding Time to Write
Last weekend I attended the Write Here Write Now conference held by the Seattle 7 Writers. If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend it. The conference is great for several reasons, but I especially appreciate the opportunity to hear published authors offer advice. At one point, the question was, "How do you find time to write?" Dave Boling explained that if writing was an essential part of your being, you make time. Even if it means writing on a flight, during the commute to work, or after the kids go to bed - writers find a way. One of the authors speaking the prior year was a physician with young twins and she still produced multiple novels per year.
I have explained that I need to write. It calms me. My husband seems to understand this and lets me retreat into my alternate world for hours at a time. However, it's not always possible for me to sit down after a full day of work and write more words. On those days, I focus on lining up my social media material for the week. There are also stretches of time when my need to write leaves me. A weekly writing group helps me commit to at least two hours of writing per week.
An Average Weekday
I work for a large corporation as a CRM administrator and analyst. The day is divided between meetings, redesigning process flows, and writing code. It's challenging, but rewarding. If I do my job well, I make it easier for other people in the company to do their own job. I'm lucky - I can squeeze in some social media work between tasks. When I first get in, I find quotes and images, then schedule posts for Facebook and Twitter. After a full day of work, I feed the dog, walk the dog, and start on dinner. I spend an hour on social media, then I write until it's time for bed. I average an hour to an hour and a half of writing per weekday.
I work a lot. It's easy to burn out. My husband is really good about taking on extra house work. Our house would be a disaster if he didn't. There are days I start writing and the rest of the world drops away. I forget to eat, and he steps in without complaint or asking. A wife absorbed in her writing isn't fun, but he knows that I'm working hard. I hope that I'll be able to spend my day writing and have more normal evenings eventually, but it's working for now. My writing group and critique groups are awesome. Sometimes the biggest help is the opportunity to share writerly woes and commiserate.
Writing is a solitary activity until the first or second draft is done. It's up to me to sit my butt in a chair and write until the book is finished. I have to figure out how to stay motivated and not buckle when I inevitably begin to question my work. Finding the time and drive to keep going is up to me, but a little bit of help from others goes a really long way.