Cross-posted from Amazing Stories and my ongoing blogging there on the art and business of writing and self-publishing.
I’m really tired, and need to study, I have an exam Monday on the Nervous System and the Brain. This week has been really busy, and I’ve been falling behind in my daily wordcount. Some days I make more than my goal, others I don’t manage writing on fiction at all. That is fine, though. Rarely are any writers in this age making a full-time living at writing, without some form of support in place. I make my living in a related but completely different industry, and juggle that business with full-time school, so I can make a better living in a few years. Writing comes after those two (and I have left family, which trumps all business, out of that equation).
Does this make me less of an artist? No, I don’t think so. Not only is approaching writing from the mindset of “I’ll only write when I’m in the perfect mood” self-defeating, so is treating it as anything less than a business. You, the writer, are a businessperson. I think I’ve said that before, so I won’t dwell on it.
Personally, I think of my writing as retirement income. Because I am not walking down the traditional publishing route, my work will never go out of print in my lifetime (and I will handle in my will what I want done with it after my death), so I have years to build up my catalog of works. Right now I am just starting to do that, with less than a double-handful of short stories and my first novel available. The second novel is the work in progress, Pixie Noir, and I plan to have that completed and ready for editing before the end of the summer. Unless life gets in the way, which it well might. After that, the sequel to my first novel will be up in the queue. And I plan to keep writing shorts and novellas along the way. I have a plan, and goals. It’s a good start.
Does this mean I love my work any the less? No, certainly not. The sheer pleasure of writing drives me to do it, it certainly is not something I would work this hard at if I didn’t love it. I love writing, crafting stories, and even more I love getting reactions from readers when they come back to me wanting more, now! That form of applause drives me to write every day I can, even when my schedule is as tight as it is now.
To sum up, plan to write, and write out a plan. Budget time for writing if you have a busy schedule. Set a writing goal, and break it into daily wordcount to meet that goal. My current plan involves only 450 words a day, a very modest number, and one that I can usually meet in a half-hour. When I completed my novel Vulcan’s Kittens I was writing about 2000 words a day, and writing something like 2 hours a day, while working in an office forty hours a week. Finally, seek out a support group.
There are many places online where you can join a like-minded group of writers. I highly recommend that, for many reasons. The support, the accountability, and the critique (if well-done) are invaluable to both experienced and raw beginner writers. If you feel a negative vibe, step out. I hear stories of terrible groups that scarred young writers, better to move on until you find a better fit. Learning to critique without attacking is an invaluable technique that will help you improve your own writing. Give, that you may get.