Here is another installment of my column with Clea Simon. (For my response, check out her great blog. We're going to be posting once a month on each other's blogs about issues that mean something to writers. (This month we have a double column and will be posting about the "thousand words a day" rule, too.)
When I taught high school, the kids all thought that writers all had beach houses and tons of money. (Why then, did they think I taught them?) Most of the writers I know have to have other jobs, and it isn;t always an easy mix. You need incoe, but you cant be so bogged down in work that you have no time to write.
Here's Clea's take on the subject (and thank you, Clea!):
Blame the Feds. I’m no more broke than usual, but on Monday I took on another quickie editing assignment, copyediting a calendar. It’s due at the end of the week, and money being tight, I’m tempted to drop everything and get to it.
But if I do, I won’t work on my work-in-progress. And not only do I have a deal with Caroline that we each try to churn out at least 1,000 words each workday, but I have a deal with myself. I left an editing job at the end of 1999 because I wanted to focus on my writing. And even though the journalism, the book reviews, the odd magazine assignments, and the occasional bits of editing pay more – and pay more promptly – I can’t let this work take over. To do that would be to abandon my dream.
Do some authors write full time? Sure, many. But the vast majority of us are stuck in this creative time share. It’s hard! Back when I first tried writing fiction, I had a job that started at noon, so I spent each morning at my computer. I was so disciplined: I made a pot of coffee and sat down and wrote. But that was before email, before I was totally freelance, before I had a mortgage and a million other bills – and, besides, I never finished that novel.
These days, I try to stick to the same schedule. But I can’t always. On Mondays, for example, I have to pull together my Globe column for the week,. That often means doing phone interviews, and I take those whenever I can get them. Eight a.m., noon, whenever. On Tuesdays, well... you get the idea.
I like the idea of writing first thing, before my super critical superego takes over. When I can’t, I try to envision the day in two-hour blocks. I know if I can find two hours, I can get the rhythm, I can get into it. Some days, of course, I can give myself more than that. On the good days, I can’t stop – and when I do finally come up for air, I wonder where the next check is going to come from. But that’s another story, for another day.