Writing Full-time – Mary Vine

22 May

When I started writing, my sons were young. They left for school in the morning, and I plopped down on my bed and wrote my first novel by hand. It took me about thirteen months to finish and then transfer to a word processor. At least I thought it was finished, yet now I know it needed about ten good turns of editing. I sent it to a few editors and by the time I received the rejection slips, I had a job.

For years I’d dreamed of selling a book and then retiring from my day job. I could just imagine myself cranking out page after page, taking a break to have chocolate, and then back to the page once more. Life couldn’t get better than that, I believed.

But something happened along the way; I started to really enjoy my day job. Good thing, because I hadn’t sold that one book to get me propelled into stardom! Still, I loved writing and tapped away at it when I could.

I learned more about writing from good critique partners, and sold the third manuscript I’d written, then the fourth. Somewhere along the line, I learned that it’s very hard to quit your day job to be a full-time writer, unless you’re bestselling author Dean Koontz, or Nora Roberts.

Over time, I lost my longing to be a full-time writer, probably because it was nigh impossible. After trial and error, I learned how to work and write until twists and turns in the road had my husband retiring early. I, too, had enough years to draw my pension.

By this time, retirement meant many things to me. I’d lost sight of that young woman sitting on the bed writing by hand. I now had a chance to do the things that were limited due to my time at work. I could read, cook, travel, see family more often, sew and sleep in. And I still wanted to keep my hand in education and presently work part-time.

So, I cut down my work week by hours, twenty-two to be exact. Did I mention I have my summers off? I can travel during the summer. I’m making a homemade pizza tonight. I can sleep in tomorrow morning. Sure, this all takes me away from my writing, plus I noticed something else. I’m not alone sitting on my bed writing as in the old days. My husband is here with me most of the time. He likes to watch television or movies and guess who gets side-tracked?

There is so much more involved with a writing career today. Marketing oneself, and book, is required for almost all writers these days. One must have a website and blog updated regularly. I’d been spending time with this lately, too. If you’re not careful it sucks a large amount of time every day.

I heard a saying that makes a lot of sense to me. If you need something done, ask a busy person to do it. I got just as much writing done when I was working full-time at my day job, than I did retired or semi-retired. Many busy people know they have time limits and get things done in a more organized manner. They just do it. Since retiring I’ve been saying to myself that I can do it tomorrow. That’s wrong, I know now. A plan is necessary no matter how much time you have.

Leaving your day job to write is not the answer to everything. You will still have to plan your day, and your writing time. If you don’t your time will wither away, and you’ll have nothing to show for it.

My new retirement plan (excuse me, semi-retirement plan), is to take my laptop into a separate room for a period of the day, on a regular basis. Wake up just a little bit earlier, on a regular basis. Plan out my manuscript in sections, on a regular basis. Take my AlphaSmart or computer with me when I travel and use it, on a regular basis. Limit the time I spend online on a regular basis, even if it is for promotion.  I’ll let you know how it goes.


Posted by on May 22, 2011 in Idaho


11 responses to “Writing Full-time – Mary Vine

  1. Janis

    May 22, 2011 at 8:18 AM

    Great blog, Mary. There are so many myths about how to become a writer, but the only real way is to live your life authentically. Then, when you write, you put the best of you on the page.

    Thanks for the reminder.

    • maryvine

      May 22, 2011 at 9:25 AM

      What a nice comment, Janis!

  2. Liz Fredericks

    May 22, 2011 at 10:18 AM

    “…on a regular basis….’
    True words, Mary. I’m reminded of something Clarissa said in a blog a couple of weeks ago. Bitterness shows up in our writing. As I read the lovely flow of time in your blog, it seems to me that you’re transferring that deep contentment to a great story. I’m looking forward to hearing more – on a regular basis. 😉

  3. lynn mapp

    May 22, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Mary, everything you said is true. It could have been my story, with a few twists. Keep us posted on your progress.

  4. Carley Ash

    May 22, 2011 at 9:46 PM

    Great blog Mary, and it’s great timing. I’m going to blog about the perks we get from keeping the day job on Thursday.

  5. Clarissa Southwick

    May 23, 2011 at 7:19 AM

    Sorry to be so late to the party. I don’t know where my weekend went. I guess I need to try some of these time management techniques. Thanks, Mary!

    • maryvine

      May 23, 2011 at 5:56 PM

      I left for a quick trip to Portland after I answered Janis’ comment, so I’m just getting back home and online today!

  6. johannaharness

    May 24, 2011 at 5:17 AM

    Great observations, Mary! Thanks so much for this.


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