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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…

Jim Before and After


Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Deborah Blake
Sep. 2nd, 2016 01:05 am (UTC)
OMG--I am never going to become a full-time author. Apparently if you do, some creature eats your face!

On the other hand, that seems like a pretty impressive list to me.
Sep. 2nd, 2016 01:08 am (UTC)
It's just a little face-eating. How badly do you want the Author Life if you're not willing to sacrifice some of your face? :-P
Sep. 2nd, 2016 02:05 am (UTC)
Well, I'm still shopping my novel around to agents and working on the sequel so... you got ME beat. ;)

-The Gneech
Sep. 2nd, 2016 04:31 am (UTC)
How is it possible to grow SO MUCH BEARD!!!!

You can get second hand camera gear - and its often a good time right when a new model comes out, when everyone else upgrades......and does tradeins etc
Sep. 2nd, 2016 03:39 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking about getting some stuff used. Keeping an eye on Craigslist and eBay, as well as some of the listings on Amazon. We'll see...
Sep. 3rd, 2016 05:26 am (UTC)
I dont know if B&H do trade ins but they are the best camera gear place in the US so I have been told....

You can also hire gear on an as need basis, I do that on the rare occasions I shoot weddings
Sep. 2nd, 2016 11:12 am (UTC)
That sounds like good productivity to me. I've found I have to leave the house at a set hour and go to the library to work. Otherwise, I can always decide I have to clean the kitchen or something.
Sep. 2nd, 2016 03:40 pm (UTC)
I've thought about trying to go elsewhere to write during the day. But that means the younger dog has to go in her kennel because nobody's home, and she gets bored and eats books when she's without people.
Sep. 2nd, 2016 06:09 pm (UTC)
Wow, she's really got your number, hasn't she?

I'm quite impressed with your productivity, and of course you know there were bound to be some bumps in the settling-in stage.

Sep. 2nd, 2016 11:38 am (UTC)
I would be rather disconcerted if that happened to me if I ever get the chance to write full-time.

Happy full-time-writerversary!
Sep. 2nd, 2016 05:56 pm (UTC)
That is an impressive beard. I'd give you a +2 chance to dazzle potential enemies with it's magnificence.
Sep. 3rd, 2016 12:57 am (UTC)
That beard begs to be braided. You -know- your secretly a hipster barista in your heart of hearts. Or a death-metal frontman. Maybe both: death-metal frontman's gotta pay the bills till he hits the charts.
Sep. 8th, 2016 04:41 pm (UTC)
Eek! Stephen Colbert eyebrow transfer!

Congratulations on a productive, happier year!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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