One Year as a Full-Time Writer
It’s been one year since I began my new life as a full-time writer.
In my fantasy world, I imagined I’d be producing a new book every month, with essays and short stories in between. I knew better, but it was a nice fantasy.
In reality, here’s what I’ve done over the past 12 months:
- Final revision on Revisionary
- Wrote, revised, and sent my first middle-grade fantasy manuscript to my agent
- Sold my first SF trilogy to DAW
- Finished the first draft of book one of said trilogy, and gotten about 35K through the rewrite
- Wrote and sold a fantasy short story
- Wrote and sold an article to io9
- Wrote and sold an article to Uncanny Magazine
- Prepped and self-published UK editions of the Princess books
- Attended the Launch Pad astronomy workshop
- Presented at the Lansing Rally of Writers and the MSU Young Author Conference
I also started a few short projects that didn’t end up going anywhere.
I’ll be honest, I’m glad I made that list. I’ve been feeling really unproductive for the past year. Looking back, there’s more I wish I’d gotten done, but that’s not a bad year at all. Especially since being a full-time writer doesn’t mean I get to write full-time. There’s also stuff like:
- Grocery shopping
- Doctor appointments for the kids
- Dishes, vacuuming, and other housework
- Prepping dinner most nights
- Dealing with various school-related problems and crises
- Chauffeuring kids to various activities
- Catching Pokemon
Not to mention I’m still putting in ten hours/week for my old job. Most of that is telecommuting, but it’s still ten more hours each week.
All in all, this has been a good change for me. My writing productivity may not have rocketed upward as much as I’d hoped, but I’m less exhausted and less stressed. I’ve gotten to spend more time with my kids. I’m even exercising a little more, since I can take the dog for walks during the day or go Pokemon hunting in the neighborhood with my son.
It’s definitely harder making myself sit down and write when I’ve (theoretically) got the whole day to do it. Before, I wrote during lunch because it was the only guaranteed hour I had each day. Now, it’s too easy to say, “Eh, I’ll get to that later this afternoon.” I’m hoping to turn up the self-discipline again once the kids are both back in school next week.
Summer vacation has not been the most productive part of the past year…
Financially, there’s been a small hit. I left a good-paying job last year, and our savings has felt the impact. But I think overall, we’re steady. Selling that trilogy helped a lot, and we should be fine for at least the next several years. I am having to be a bit more careful with the spending, though. (No matter how much I might be drooling over the new Canon camera body or some of those lenses…)
My hope is to keep doing better than one book a year, plus extras. Terminal Alliance (the first SF book) has been challenging, but I’ll at least have some of the worldbuilding and character development done when I start in on the sequel, so that should help, right?
Hmph. Who am I kidding? Every book comes up with its own new and creative challenges.
Anyway, bottom line? I’m happier now, and I’ve written more than I would have otherwise. There’s plenty of room for improvement, but I’m calling Year One a victory.
Oh, and anyone else considering going full-time as an author, I should warn you there may be some side effects, as illustrated by this before and after photo…
September 1, 2016 @ 9:22 pm
Lovely! What a year for you and you will never regret it!! The beard…it is muy impressive and the natural highlights are striking. Enjoy those Pokemon. Write great things.
Matthew Alan Thyer
September 1, 2016 @ 9:28 pm
Way to make a guy feel inadequate big guy. Seriously though, well done.
September 1, 2016 @ 9:41 pm
Happy Writerversary! May the next year be filled with wonder and productive hours. And non-productive hours, because those count, too. Plenty of days I try to think back to what I’ve accomplished and I’ve got nothin’. Writing it all down helps because then I can see I actually did do things. So it goes. At least I’m not filing TPS reports…
Sara A. Mueller
September 2, 2016 @ 12:41 am
Happy Writerversary to my all-time favorite troll. (I’m a Yooper who met Jim at RadCon in Washington state. I’m from the Upper Peninsula, he’s from Below the Bridge. It’s a Michigan joke.)
September 2, 2016 @ 2:13 am
“I’m happier now.”
Nothing beats happier. Congratulations, Jim!
September 2, 2016 @ 3:06 am
Happy Writerversary! Unless you are going on a quest with Bilbo to find a dragon hoard, trim the beard. 🙂
Robert B Finegold
September 2, 2016 @ 5:54 am
Mazel tov! A big step. Great news regarding the DAW sale. And a timely update for me to read.
September 2, 2016 @ 7:20 am
I take full credit for that magical beard growth!
September 2, 2016 @ 10:20 am
Side effects include becoming a wizard?!! Sign me up!
Jim C. Hines
September 2, 2016 @ 10:36 am
A dragon hoard would go a long way toward helping the finances…
Jim C. Hines
September 2, 2016 @ 10:39 am
I’ve got writer friends who seem to churn out a new novel or short story in the time it takes me to write this comment. We do what we can do.
September 2, 2016 @ 10:49 am
It sounds incredibly productive to me!
September 2, 2016 @ 11:01 am
Awesome. I love it when authors can do what they love doing full time. I’m also sure that you will be writing a lot more, which means I can buy my wife more of your books. 🙂
September 2, 2016 @ 11:58 am
You rock that beard as long as you want, Jim! I know if I ever manage to escape the cube farm, one of the first things I am doing is dying my hair an outrageous color.
September 2, 2016 @ 12:18 pm
Don’t forget that you also got more time with your kids. That’s very important – they’ll appreciate that more than you realize, especially as you get older. I remember my son once complaining when he was little about his friends having fancier houses and more things. When I pointed out that they also saw very little of their parents and spent most of their time with nannies, he decided he’d rather have less stuff and more of me. Especially when parenting a kid with special needs, extra time together is worth a whole lot – both for him, and for his NT sibling.
September 2, 2016 @ 12:41 pm
Happy writerversary, and thanks for sharing your journey with us. I’ve been contemplating the move to working part-time to allow one day per week for writing, and realize I just need to make the change. Thank you for being an inspiration, and congrats on a productive, fulfilling year!
September 2, 2016 @ 1:36 pm
Good list. Lists help. You’ve definitely been productive.
I had a thought about self-discipline, kids, and school calendars. Our kids are a huge part of our lives, so their schedules are a huge part of our lives. Their summer vacation isn’t just a schedule change for them, it’s a schedule change for us. Adapting our own day-to-day lives to that schedule doesn’t necessarily mean we lack self-discipline. It means the things that can be done or need to be done have shifted, along with the time available to do those things. Shifting back to the school year schedule isn’t a matter of regaining self-discipline, but one of re-evaluating the schedule and tasks again.
But, yeah, with more room to do more things that are easier fun, I see the difficulty in sitting down and writing.
September 2, 2016 @ 2:45 pm
The beard’s amazing! Oh, and great job too at the productivity. I’ve been a work at home contractor for about a decade, and both getting things done and _recognizing_ those accomplishments is hard work. Listing what you’ve done is a great tool for the latter. You’re doing great!
Matthew Alan Thyer
September 2, 2016 @ 5:57 pm
I took today off — it’s been a long time coming too — trying to catch up on delayed house maintenance and cleaning before the wet season really gets going. Now, neck deep in the afternoon and I feel like I’ve gotten nothing done because I have no words to show.
I’m super glad for you Jim, keep up the good work.
September 3, 2016 @ 3:49 am
As a GAS-sufferer myself I can recommend going for legacy lenses; with modern cameras manual focusing is actually fun and it’s much less expensive than going for the latest tech.
Jim C. Hines
September 3, 2016 @ 1:49 pm
Too many of my shots are of kids and animals. I need the quick autofocus to get most of those. (Though I do have a manual wide-angle lens for the astrophotography stuff!)
September 4, 2016 @ 1:17 pm
“Nothing beats happier.” I love this!! Thank you.
September 4, 2016 @ 1:20 pm
That is an awesome beard and if I’m understanding this correctly, when one becomes a full-time writer, one also becomes a full-time Wizard? Because damn, I am so looking forward to that!
A Year In Review – Victoria Feistner
September 6, 2016 @ 12:34 pm
[…] C. Hines, whose blog I follow, recently completed a year of writing full-time, and wrote up a nice little report on the year, and how it’s difficult sometimes to measure successes when one works from home. […]