My Year of Writing Full-Time Begins

My Year of Writing Full-Time Begins

So, here we are — we’re actually finally doing this. Longtime readers of this blog may recall that I was talking about doing this in early 2012 — namely, spending a full year without a day job and concentrating purely on writing and self-publishing. Now that 2013 has rolled along, it’s actually happening.

Theoretically, at least. I’m not off to a great start. You’ll be seeing this early Tuesday morning, but I’m actually writing it very late Monday night, burning the midnight oil so I can feel like I got something useful done today. This was supposed to be my first day. I did manage to accomplish a couple of minorly useful tasks, but nothing substantial.

I’ve actually managed to develop a pretty good work ethic over the last year. I never really thought I would, but it turns out that when I’m spending my efforts on something I actually want to do instead of just what earns me a paycheck, I seem to be willing to put in the hours.

So what happened today? I had already let the first few days of 2013 slide by, figuring that I would wait to start work on the first Monday. It seemed to make sense, and would give me a little chance to recover. Not, I’m sorry to say, that I was recovering from a fun and raucous New Year’s Eve. Instead, I’m trying to get over the end of a romantic relationship, and trying to get my head around the fact that the home I shared with someone else through most of last year is now suddenly quiet and empty.

That’s made it a little hard to stay motivated. I’m trying to look on the bright side, as best as I can. Now, I have nothing but time on my hands, and I can dedicate myself to this project without distractions. It’s hard look at things that way. The pain I’m feeling is still so fresh that it’s hard to look past it. But I’ll manage somehow. I know I will. I’ve been wanting this for too long.

It has been months since I first started talking about doing this, and I’ve been pretty uncertain about it for most of that time. It just seems like such a big decision, one so far outside my experience that it seemed impractical and unreal. Surely, I thought, someone was going to try to talk me out of it. Someone would talk some sense into me.

No one did. To my great surprise, not even my mother tried to talk me out of it. She, like everyone else, seemed to think it was a great idea.

I spent most of 2012 halfheartedly looking for a job, and getting by on unemployment insurance. All that time, I kept testing the waters. I figured out that if I cashed in some stocks, I’d have enough money to pay myself the same amount as I was getting from unemployment for twelve months, so I was carefully budgeting myself and making sure I could be comfortable and happy on that amount. I threw myself into publishing and promotion as if I already had made the decision to go full-time — I even went so far as to rent a desk at a shared office space in order to make myself take the work more seriously. It worked. I managed to put out two books of short stories in that time, and completely revamp this website.

By the time the unemployment finally ran out, I’d already made my decision. I certainly had my concerns — was I going to be able to jump back into the job market in a year’s time? Was I really going to be productive enough to be worth the expense? In the end I finally realized that I shouldn’t even be debating all this with myself — that there were hundreds and thousands of writers out there who would kill to have this kind of opportunity, and that I’d be foolish not to take it. If I didn’t do it now, when would I do it? If I never did it at all, wouldn’t I always regret it?

The beauty of doing this is that I set myself a very simple victory condition. The goal is simply to do it. If my goal had been that in one year’s time, I would be earning a living wage from self-publishing, I would just be setting myself up for failure. But my only goal here is just not to walk away from it. As long as I’m still concentrating on my writing career by the time I cross the finish line a year from now, I can call this year a success.

I’m sure that within that year’s time I will manage to become more successful. I’ll manage to increase my sales a little bit and get my name out there more. The only hope here is to bump the needle a little — to lay the groundwork for a writing career that, hopefully, will someday earn me a living. I’m going to try to set specific, measurable goals during the next year in order to see if I’m on the right track, but I’m going to try not to stress over them too much. This is just to see if I can actually do the work, and that depends solely on me.

Today was — not promising. I don’t think tomorrow will be very productive either — my ex-girlfriend will be coming over to help me take down our Christmas tree. I don’t think I’m going to be good for much of anything after that.

But the day after that will be a new day. I’m going to lift myself out of the heartbreak I’m feeling and hit the ground running. I’ll talk to you then, and we’ll look back on the writing and publishing goals I set myself in 2012 and see how well I did. Thanks for coming by.