Sunday, November 14, 2010

Living a Writer's Life

A little over two months ago, I quit my day job. I’d been pondering this move for several months, weighing the pros and cons, discussing this with my spouse and a few work and writing colleagues. A number of factors at my job contributed to the decision to leave, but the most important decisions were personal.

You see, I turned fifty-five over the summer and while my birthday wasn’t a particularly big deal to me on the day, over the following weeks I found myself pondering my working future. Did I want to continue with salaried employment? Now that I had a publishing contract with a potential for more books to be published in this series, should I become a full time writer? Would I be happy spending most of my days in front of a computer screen? Would I be productive or grow lazy because I no longer had to account for my time? Would I gain weight??

Well, the short answer is that I am happier and more productive than I was while juggling the day job and family responsibilities with writing and promotion, but I’m not yet as productive as I’d like to be. In some ways, I’m still adjusting to the fulltime writing life. Certainly, I’ve been able to attend more book events. I’ve gone to workshops, given a workshop, participated in the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, done a little more promotion, and consequently have sold more books than I would have if I was still in the day job, but there’s always more to do, more I feel I should be doing. The 37 hours a week not spent at the day job and commuting aren't translating into 37 extra hours of writing and promotion.

So, what am I doing? Well, I’m exercising twice as much and cooking more dinners than I used to. I’m even baking a little. My family likes it, although my daughter, who’s never known me to bake anything except cookies at Christmas, said “What’s up, Mom?” It was a good question. The answer is that I’m giving myself permission to do many of the things I’d been thinking about doing for months. I’ve started a few small household projects and am now purging my bursting filing cabinets of articles, newsletters, and other things I no longer need. It’s a project I thought I’d do when I retired.

The thing is, I’m not really retired at all. I’m self-employed, and now that I’ve distinguished those two things more clearly in my mind, I’m ready to step up my creative output, just as soon as I purge the last four cabinet drawers.

My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at


Carole Anne Carr said...

Good luck with it, wishing you every success in the world!

L.C. Evans said...

I wish you every success, Debra. I, too, write full time and it's such a gift to have that time, though I'm the first to admit that if I'm not careful, writing time can slip away. It's all about making a schedule and sticking to it.

Marian Allen said...

Congratulations! L.C. is right--keep people aware that you have a full-time job, even though you do it at home. People have a tendency to equate "at home" and "set your own hours" to "always free to do something". lol!

Marian Allen

N. R. Williams said...

I challenge myself and use my blog to post my progress. It's working.
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

Wynn Kozak said...

I appreciate hearing about other writers who have taken that leap of faith and quit their day jobs. I quit working full time in daycare back in 1993 and during the '90's was able to live in Greece part time. Continued working p.t. in daycare up til a couple of years ago. Meanwhile I've been instructing writing classes for the school board and various community centres since 1994 so this has subsidised by pension and allowed me to be a full time writer. It's so freeing to be able to do this!