It’s been just over a month since I took the decision to give up my day time job and spend a year concentrating on writing. This wasn’t an easy decision for me. After all, having that pay cheque come in on a regular basis is certainly something to rely upon. But after long discussions with my husband and family, plus some very lovely royalty cheques that came through at the right time, I decided to take the plunge and go for it!
So what have I learned in the first month? Quite a few things, actually. Here’s a taster of them!
1. You have to have a routine
It’s all about getting your bottom on the seat in front of the laptop. Without a routine, there are so many other things you can do to procrastinate. My routine looks a bit like this:
7am – Get up and get kids up
7:30am – Feed dog, make breakfasts, keep shouting at kids
8am – Kick the kids out to school & take dog for a walk
9am – Make tea, put bum on seat, and WRITE
12 noon – lunch & play with dog
1pm – WRITE SOME MORE
3pm – Social network & Marketing
5pm – FINISH
2. You have to know when to stop
When I used to leave the office, it was easy to climb into the car and leave work behind. When you work at home, it’s not that easy. There’s always the temptation to do just one more thing, write one more chapter, and before you know it, it’s time for bed and nobody has eaten dinner! I’m as strict with my start times as I am with my finish times. I want to make this job sustainable, and that would be impossible if I work 24/7.
3. You have to tell your brain that it’s time to think about something else
This kind of ties in with the point above. I have the tendency to still think about my stories even when I’m not doing them. As well as check in on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. But it’s necessary to turn this off sometimes, and pay full attention to something else. Not only does it mean I won’t get divorced (!) but it should also allow my brain to reboot, ready to write the next day.
4. You have to spend time with your family
One of the main reasons for giving up work was to spend more time with my family. Before, when I had a job, I was spending my evenings and weekends writing, and this meant less time for them. My children are teenagers now, so need less on-time from me, but they still deserve my attention, and damn it, I kind of like them! Same goes for my husband. So we plan out some fun things to do together, like going to the movies or the theater.
5. You have to have a plan
At the beginning of this year I made a 12 month plan. This included all my marketing aims, my writing aims and things I wanted to achieve in my personal life. Each month I revisit this plan, making goals for the following 4 weeks. Each day I know what I’m going to be doing, whether that be writing 3000 words, doing a blog post or formatting my next e-book. This plan means I’ll hopefully be able to achieve my longer-term goals, as well as making my days meaningful.
6. You have to find time to read
This is one of the things I’ve found harder to do since I’ve given up work. It seems like a guilty pleasure, and time that I could productively be spending elsewhere. But this is a fallacy. Reading is one of the most important things a writer can do. It helps with the craft, with seeing trends, and also can help to inspire you. After all, the reason I wanted to be a writer was that I loved to read. I’d hate to lose this love.
After this month I’ll be adding reading into my plan. I’ll even schedule the time in if I have to. What a great job this is!
So that’s what I’ve learned over the past few weeks. And I have to say I’m loving being a full-time writer, so far. It’s by far the most enjoyable job I’ve had, and definitely the most rewarding. I can stay in my pyjamas all day (although I get strange looks on the dog walk), I can make a cup of tea whenever I want, and I get to spend time on Facebook and tell myself it’s work! All in all, a total win!
Don’t forget my next book, Canada Square, will be released on 7th April. It’s available for pre-order now, using the following links: