Writing work

I love that I now write for a living. Full time. Full stop. Even just saying it makes me happy.  If you missed this bit of news, last month I took the plunge and quit my day job. I am now home from 8 am to 2 pm with only my screen (and my dogs) in front of me, and yes, I make a living from it.

But.

The living I make is in travel writing. I added to my freelance load and signed a new contract with family mega-site Trekaroo. I’m now the Editorial and Sponsorship Manager, in addition to being the outdoor family travel columnist at OutdoorsNW and staff writer at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear. And yes, I am still founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids. None of this is a negative in and of itself, because I love travel writing. I’m blissfully happy writing about travel for seven hours a day, every day. But.

But.

It doesn’t leave much time for creative writing. In fact, I haven’t written one word on my current novel-in-draft in four weeks. Between actually traveling and writing about travel, managing editorial and meetings with travel brands and PR companies, I simply have nothing left. I don’t know whether this is a bad thing or an ok thing.

I still have two fulls out for The Novel that Won’t Die. They’ve been out for a long time, and I don’t feel good about it. It feels too long. And that novel is so polished, so ready, that I don’t know where to go from here. Other than to start over with the next. Which is stuck at the 10,000 word mark, treading water, while I write about everything else under the sun.

I don’t know what is to be done. I suppose it is what it is. Honestly, novel writing feels like a mountain that can’t be moved right now. And just so recently, I felt I had such momentum. That’s what happens in this world of creative fiction that’s so often self-driven: you’re in solitary. There is so little outside stimulation. No paycheck awaits. No editor has given you a deadline. If it weren’t for writing group, you’d be in complete isolation. All motivation must come from within. And you can only be pushing to that finish line for so long. You can’t keep it up indefinitely. So I suppose I’m on the sideline for a while, taking a breather. I am doing what I’m doing, the novels are doing what they’re doing, and what can I do about it?

Other creative writers, want to chime in? How do you stay motivated? How do you know when to stop beating a dead horse and saddle up the next?

5 thoughts on “Writing work

  1. I know just how you feel! I’ve been trying to schedule in a little time in between the paying gigs, but momentum is so important in long fiction! You have to know where you are, and it’s so easy to lose track. I hope when I actually have the 8-2 free schedule (in, yanno, like 4 years), that I’ll be able to be more prolific on that front.

    • Yes, those are almost exactly my work hours now: 8 am to 2:30 pm, and yet, I never stop even for lunch and I only get to the paid work. This is not a complaint, except…it sort of is. I know there are seasons for everything, but I do so love novel season.

  2. Oh, my, I totally get this. Lately, I’ve been dreaming up (dreaming being the key word here…getting from dream to action is another place that stumps me) several writing projects, that might…just might be publishable and possibly (minimally) income-generating. Only trouble is, they’re all non-fiction, and as I imagine the timeline, laying out three books over the next few years, I can’t quite see where fiction fits into the picture. And does that mean that my heart’s really not in the fiction? Or have I just internalized all of the “there’s no way you’ll ever make a dime off of this enterprise” conventional wisdom about fiction, and I’m giving up before I’ve even made it a go? Meanwhile, I spend my eight hours a day doing something not related to any kind of writing at all, but which does help keep our family ship afloat. Sigh. Where’s that world where we writers can just get paid (and health insurance) just for being writers?

    • Heck, I’d be happy to be paid just IN health insurance! I used to spend my whole work day in unrelated work as well, and I feel lucky to now be earning money in my field, but fiction…it’s just so hard to make a living at it. Too bad I need money for my family…

      • Which is why they always say you don’t write fiction for the money, you write because you have to…

        For myself, I’m trying to strike a better balance between the fiction/NF sides of my writing. I need to bring in income, but I also need to make sure I don’t accept so many writing gigs that I can’t take time to do anything but. I also have music writing that seems to get shoved to third place far too often…but lately I’ve been trying to juggle that back in, too. Balance will never come, they say–we just keep seesawing between one hat and another (sorry for the mixed metaphors!).

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