Writing “Full Time”

Posted Oct 6 2018

As my bio says, I’m a teacher. That means I have my summers “off” (ignoring how much time I’ve spent since school was out finishing the paperwork from last year, how many meetings I’ve had since the end of the term, the days I’ll spend before school starts getting ready for the new year, the time I’ve spent reading to keep up, and an endless flow of work-related email). This means that for a few months I can write “full time”.

I’ve learned, however, that a writer’s “full time” is not exactly forty hours a week of writing. First there’s the revising, right now for several RWA® chapter contests. This means that I’m now intimately familiar with every comma and question mark in the first two chapters of both of the books I currently have on the contest circuit. Then there’s the judging — once you have some experience as a contestant, it’s a good thing to give back by judging entries in other categories of the contests you’re familiar with. Reading other people’s entries can also teach you a lot about your own writing, but it takes time out of your “full time”.

The thing that really cuts into my “full time”, however, is the rhythm of my own writing process. First, after 1000-1500 words, it takes a real effort to write any more, no matter how excited I am about my story, or how easily the words have flowed to that point. Sometimes I can get past the 1500 word mark, and presumably after I sell I’ll have to learn to be better at it, but for right now, most days it’s an insurmountable roadblock.

Another complication is that in the summer most people prefer to do whatever work they have to do in the morning and have their afternoons free. This means lots of meetings and appointments during my prime working hours. I can write after lunch or even after dinner, and have several times so far this summer, but what I could write in an hour earlier in the day takes me two or three to write in the afternoon.

For all these reasons (plus a commitment to enjoy at least some of the summer with my family), my “full time” writing is closer to half-time, or less, but I am making progress. My current WIP is on schedule to be finished before I go back to work, and writing becomes my “part time” job once again.

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