Tobias Buckell posted an interesting post on Twitter.
The whole thread is great, and the take away is that many writers have kept their day job, while greatly contributing to literature. There is no shame in it.
Watch this interview starting at about 3:00 minute mark. The popular culture conditions us that this is what author success looks like. A giant house. A library of your books in 50 languages. The author playing a piano after a hard day of work.
There is a small problem with this scenario: none of this is about being a writer. It’s about fame and being an author. More than 99.99% of writers working today will never obtain Dan Brown’s level of fame, recognition, and wealth, me included. But we can obtain happiness and getting there sometimes means letting go of some things that are obvious markers of success.
Quitting the day job was a big one for me. I hated my day job. Well, no, I didn’t hate my day job, I actually loved it, but my boss created such a toxic environment that I felt suffocated. For example, after being reprimanded for the way he spoke to women, he decided to communicate with me purely by sticky notes. Not even a hello.
When I quit, I expected to have an 8 hour writing day every day. I would write all of the words. Instead my productivity went down. Previously I wrote for 2 hours a day, but I thought about what I was going to write through the day, so when time came to work, Gordon and I could just vomit it on the page. Now we had a lot more time which ended up consisting of opening the file and staring at the blank page.
We’ve now settled into the routine of writing in 2 sessions of 2-3 hours each. We typically write 1-2 scenes a day and we do not stress out if we don’t hit the mark. Stress kills productivity faster than anything else.
Working from home means you never have to put on pants. This gets old fast. I put on pants and brush my hair and brush teeth and make an effort to look nice. Being a slob has a negative effect on productivity.
Working from home means you can run errands whenever you want. Running errands has a negative effect on productivity.
Working from home means you never have to see other people. And you might as well just hang your career on a hook right there, because writing is all about people and if you don’t interact with human beings, you don’t get inspired and your writing will stagnate. Lack of inspiration has a negative effect on productivity.
Notice a trend here? Successful full time writers still do normal things: they make an effort to go to the gym, they run errands, and they write in bursts of productivity followed by rest, whether those bursts are daily or weekly or monthly. I am with Tobias. Working a full time job or a part-time job says zero about your success as a writer or an author.
The only true lasting happiness in this business comes from writing and enjoying the actual process of it.