Thursday, November 21, 2019

Writing from Hobby to Career--Part I

Twitter is full of writers feeling guilty for not writing.  In the evenings.  Over weekends.  On vacation.

Lots of people in more traditional jobs work from home on evenings/weekends/vacations.  Does your career commonly have the "I should always be working" guilt that writing has for many authors?

I have a hypothesis about why so many writers feel this way.

Most of us start writing as a "hobby" before we go pro.  We write late at night, after our families are asleep.  Or we wake early to write in the pre-dawn quiet.  We might borrow thirty minutes of our lunch breaks at work.  Grab the opportunity provided by waiting in the car-rider pick-up line at school.  We plot during exercise.  Draft during kids' TV shows.  Edit aloud in the shower.

And most authors never fully leave that space.  Many keep a "day" job until they retire.  But, even if an author is fortunate enough to be able to chose to make writing their only job, the mentality of writing fitting into every free moment, every liminal space, every unstructured corner of our lives is hard to lose.

Our practice of writing is from its inception entwined with borrowed, stolen, and found moments.

Thursday, November 7, 2019


It's National Novel Writing Month!  And I'm, well, I'm writing.  Hopefully 50,000 new words before December 1st.  I don't start a new project each November.  What I do is work on a novel throughout the spring/summer/fall then finish a first draft in a furious 50,000 word burst.

In some ways, that's easier than doing a proper NaNoWriMo--I already know my characters, voice, and story.  On the other hand, beginnings are easiest and most exciting.  Middles are challenging--keep them tight and not at all soggy!  And endings are tricky--pick up all the threads you've introduced intentionally or subconsciously and tie all the pieces together.

In December, I'm a soggy noodle.  A soggy noodle with a lot of Christmas/end-of-year stuff to accomplish.  But it's worth it to have written a book a year for the past few years.  I revisit each chapter as I send it to my critique group, so the draft is solid by the end of the chapter-level-critique process each spring.

I love the camaraderie of critique groups, writing groups, and accountability groups--including NaNoWriMo--in what can be a solitary occupation.  I wouldn't change a thing.