I realized the other day that it’s been a while since I did a blog post about… just stuff.
I’ve been working a lot lately the past few months — on the first book in the new Ironwood MC series, my novella for the Outlaws charity anthology (which I’m going to be turning into a full-length novel in a month or two), on my Christmas novella Dirty Santa, and most recently, on a short story for a charity anthology connected to the Motorcycles, Mobsters, and Mayhem book signing in April.
So, somewhere in all of that, I kind of forgot about this blog, and that it’s kind of fun to just come on here from time to time and talk about whatever, just for a few paragraphs. No editing, no thinking too much about what I want to say — just writing. To you.
So, today, I’m taking a little break from work to answer something I get asked a lot — especially by readers I meet in person at signings:
What is it like to be a full-time author?
Well. I have a lot I could say about this. Mostly good, some not so great. But all things considered, I do love being a full-time writer. It’s radically different from my prior life as an educator, for sure. So, here are some thoughts about what it’s like for me to do this as a career.
First, it’s really a job where you have to be good at setting deadlines for yourself and following through!
Being a writer, for me, means working at home most of the time. I’m alone in my office, every day, Monday through Friday. I don’t have a boss, other than myself. So, if I want to, I can just decide not to work today! I can go to the mall, and hang out, or go to my favorite place for a fancy lunch, or just go to a movie, or hell… go do a spa day! And hey, why not do the same thing tomorrow? And the next day? And the next…?
What will happen if I do that? Nothing! No boss will fire me. I won’t get “written up.” I won’t miss any important appointments. (Mr. Loveling might notice, and ask me what I’m doing, but other than that…)
So, if I don’t have the self-discipline to sit my ass in this chair every day and do the work… well, the work ain’t gonna get done. I won’t get that next book finished. My income will go down. I’ll disappoint my readers.
Some people need others to set deadlines for them, and the fear of being fired to spur them on. Some people aren’t cut out to be self-employed. Thankfully, so far I don’t seem to be one of them.
Second, it’s a job where introverts tend to thrive.
I think it would be really hard to be a writer if you were the type of person who really needs to be around other people. I spend my work days talking to no one but my cats. And that’s fine with me.
But: it’s also a job that makes it easy to disconnect with the outside world.
I actually do interact with a lot of people during my work day — on line, that is! I love the internet. It quite literally makes my job possible. It makes doing research much easier than it would have been thirty years ago. And it makes me able to talk to readers from all over the world, which is AWESOME. But: it also makes it very easy to just spend all day indoors and never go out and talk to real-world people. And since I’m an introvert, I’m not very bothered by that. But it’s not good for me. So I have to make an extra effort to see friends and meet new people, because I don’t have the built-in daily social interaction I used to have when I worked as an educator.
And: it’s really easy to neglect my physical health!
The thing about writing is, you have to sit in a chair to do it. (Unless you’re a writer who can use dictation, in which case you can write while taking a walk. But dictating doesn’t work for me.) And when I’m really being productive, it’s extremely easy for me to say to myself, “Hey, Daphne, let’s just skip the gym today. We’ll totally go tomorrow, though. Right? I mean, totally!”
Yeah. And then tomorrow comes and… nope. And the day after that… and the day after that…
The dumb thing about that is, I’m actually much more productive when I take time out of the day to get some exercise. Raising my heart rate for a while, and getting my head out of the book I’m writing, is incredibly rejuvenating! Time and time again, I have found that when I’m exercising regularly, my writing is the better for it.
So… why is it so damn hard for me to remember that? 😀
Good question! All I know is, it’s a constant struggle for me. Like right now: I decided to take a break from working. And what did I decide to do instead?
Write a blog post.
When I should have gone to the gym.
Oh, well. There’s always tomorrow…