In two months and six days (ish) I’ll be taking a year away from dayjobbery and seeing how close I can get to generating a full time freelance writing career. For the next couple of months I’ve the luxury of preparation time, trying to figure out how to make it work and putting some things in place that will pay off down the line (maybe). Then, at the end of September, I’ll take the leap, put all of this into practice, and see if I’m right about any of it. You can browse previous entries here.
That’s what life feels like at the moment. I’m swamped, and starting to suffer for it. I’ve geared up to sprint towards the start of the freelance year proper, but massively underestimated how much time I actually have in a given day.
At the moment, of course, I still work full time. My typical weekday is up, grab breakfast, head to work, do that for eight hours, come home, grab a nap, wake up, try to cram in half an hour of writing, make dinner, feed family, put child to bed, open laptop… and crawl, exhausted, through a couple of hours of trying to write before I zone out entirely. I’m so tired during that last session that I get done what would take me an hour to do after a good night’s sleep.
That’s what I’m most looking forward to about this experiment. Instead of having a dayjob then trying to wring out words when I’m least fit to make sense of them, the words will be the dayjob. I feel like I’m trying to fit two lives into one at the minute. Both are jam packed with incident and things to do, but it’s the dayjob that soaks up most of my energy (rightly in my mind – they pay me well, and I like to earn that pay). It must be the same way for many, many writers.
I’ve made things worse for myself by aiming to clear too many writing and publishing projects before the end of September, so i have a clear run at new stuff when the starting pistol goes off on the year. I’ve either underestimated my time, or overestimated how much energy I should have left at the end of the day. This entry a typical example. I’ve been trying to start this blog for about two hours. It’s past midnight, my eyes are grainy, and my thoughts are dull. I’m shattered.
The solution is simple enough, and I’m putting it into effect immediately. I’d hoped to finish off two full length novels by the end of September, but at the rate I’m working I think that’s silly. If I can finish one, the Edinburgh book I mentioned last week, I’ll be a happy man. Not as far forward as I hoped, but probably not as close to actual collapse.
I’m forever miscalculating like this. It’s as though I forget I actually have a life when I plan things out. It’s something I need to get much, much better at if enough of my projects are going to work next year. If I can make better estimates while planning things out, ones that are less punishing, then the coming year could be an interesting experiment not only in working for myself and seeing how that goes, but also in having more time in which to have an actual life and do the normal things that most often get sacrificed on the altars of writing and publishing.
Looking forward to that, very much.