Friday, October 25, 2013

So You Call Yourself a Writer

I've mentioned before that I'm not above cruising the writing magazines in the bookstore and skimming articles before I decide to invest. There are lots of them out there, just check out the links on the Publication Page of IWSG. But I also gather ideas for my blog during those peeks between the covers.

Recently I skimmed an article about a man who had quit his teaching job, took off for a remote village in Europe and sat down to write the next bestseller. Should you quit your day job? Check out what others say about quitting the bill paying job.

I don't remember the genre or even the author's name, but he lived in a falling down cottage for six months until his money ran out. He was so proud of the 100 pages he wrote during that time, what he consider a great start to his book. Really!

Now that I'm a full time writer, I spend lots more hours in my comfy office than when I held my full time teaching job. I still have lots of things that keep my busy. We have a six bedroom house and lots of outside area that needs care. My husband and I, now that our children have or are preparing to take flight from the nest, are fixing up here and there in preparation of selling the homestead. I'm glad I have time for that and to visit my elderly mother, but I still consider myself to have a full time job. Would I feel that way if I wrote one hundred pages in six months?

If one is working at a full time job, writing in the evenings and on weekends, one hundred pages could be pretty good. If one is in the midst of child rearing, one hundred pages is quite an accomplishment. If you think you're busy when they're infants, wait until the teen years. But if I left everything behind and had nothing to do except feed myself, do occasional laundry and walk on the seaside, would I be thrilled with one hundred pages in six months? I don't think so.

Are writing retreats good ways to get the creative juices flowing? Is surrounding oneself with nothing but the book the way to get that novel done? I'm sure it is for some people. I've read other stories of writers who retreated to quiet and isolation when creating their jewels. As NaNo approaches for many people, not me, I'm sure lots of the participants will be pounding the keyboards at lunch breaks, while fixing dinner, in between loads of laundry and perhaps even while working on the treadmill. And some of them will produce jewels, maybe still unpolished, but rich just the same.

If you had the chance to isolate yourself and write without any distractions, how much would you expect yourself to produce? Have you ever taken a writing retreat? Where did you go and how much did you get done? Have you ever considered taking the plunge, quitting the day job and trying to make it as a writer?


  1. As you know I'm writing full-time now after taking redundancy three years ago. I'm churning 100 pages in six months, No. Yes, I could write it, but would it be any good. I have found I have been in too much of a hurry. Writing well, means taking your time, thinking plots, characters and setting out, not rushing to write a bestseller. There are far too many people churning out rubbish in a hurry to hit the bestseller list (in their dreams I might add.
    In my 24 hours, I still have other things to do apart from write ie. housework, gardening etc. As you know Susan we women always have more than one job even when we worked full-time, giving up my day job still meant I had to run the house while my dear husband brought home the money to support me.

  2. I dream of one day becoming a full time writer, but at the moment the bills won't pay themselves. However, I do find, on the odd day that I have to myself and plan to spend that time writing, that I don't actually get a lot done. I can get more done in the hours between 9pm and 11pm than I can throughout the rest of the day. I don't know why. It's like the Nano writers who squeeze writing in every spare minute of the day and make it, but when you have every minute of the day free to write, it just doesn't happen. Now I wonder if I'd actually make it full time :/

  3. I don't want to be a full time writer anyway, so I really can't imagine quitting my job just to write.
    I'll admit, NaNo is a good boost for me though.

  4. I would love to be a full-time writer one day. Like Alex said, I, too, think I get to experience a bit of that life each time I participate in NaNo. I've never gone to a retreat or been able to eliminate distrations entirely, however. I would hope I would be productive if I could just "get away from it all," but I don't know. Maybe someday I'll find out!

  5. I thrill at the idea of going away somewhere and writing full time. That guy who spent all his savings to write 100 pages though....that just sounds ridiculous. Unless he had one heck of a great vacation.

  6. Paula, you are so right about all those chores. I wonder how I got it all done when I worked.
    DRC, I still do a lot of my work between 9-11. A habit I guess.
    Alex, I know you love your job.
    Good luck in NaNo, Dana.
    Karen, you read my mind.

  7. When I was unemployed, I wrote copious amounts. Now that I am back working, the 45 minutes I steal in the morning aren't nearly enough. Oh what I'd give to have that writing time back. I learned back then how valuable my daily writing is, whether its 45 minutes or eight hours a day, it completes me. A writing retreat? That would be a dream!

  8. I LOVE our retreat in our writer's group. Three glorious days of not cooking, cleaning or taxiing the Urchins anywhere. Just writing and communing with other writers. It's the closest thing to paradise I know right now!

  9. I love writing retreats. There's something about the set block of time that challenges me. One year I did 15,000 words from Friday evening until Sunday noon (with adequate time off for social and sustenance activities).

    I also had a very good experience with NaNo in 2011, producing about 51,000 first draft quality work. I'll give it another try this year because I think it's a great way to kick start a new book.

  10. I try to isolate myself as much as possible on my two days off. Sometimes I write for hours. Sometimes not. The days I work, I try to write for at least 2 hours.

    Hugs and chocolate,

  11. I just wrote a post on going on a writer's retreat with other women. It was a learning and growing time.

    I quit a career to try writing. Although it's taken a different path than intended and of course life interrupts and is unavoidable. Still being able to focus on the writing and my goals is a real gift.