Hey, writerly women. This post could also be called, "Don't Quit Your Day Job ... Yet."
But don't you have those days when you WANT to? When you're having such a BLAST writing and it's flowing through your mind and fingers like a silk scarf and you're more sure than you've ever been of anything in your life that this is what you're meant to do.
I'm sure our ANDREA feels that way fight now. She just finished her FIRST DRAFT. Go girl!!!
And LILY, who just polished off her FINAL DRAFT. Yeah, baby!!
And then the alarm on your phone dings and you have to get ready for your shift at Starbucks or TJ Maxx or Home Depot -- or go to bed because you have to get up tomorrow and be a first responder or an administrative assistant or a lawyer.
Yeah, the urge to stop transitioning and just give your two weeks notice or your two hours notice or just call in "never" can be pretty overwhelming, In fact, it's easy to mistake it for God saying, "Just do it. Take the leap of faith. I will take care of you."
Heck, you might be able to find a Scripture verse to support that if you look hard enough. What about the whole "lilies of the field thing?" Or God keeping his eye on the sparrow. Those work, right?
I'm not going there, this not being a post on miracles ... but I do know that God gave us two sides to our brains -- the right side for the creative, emotional, word crafting activities that make us fabulous writers, which we are
--- the left side for analyzing, planning, and keeping us from getting run over by cars. It's difficult to pay attention to said left side when the silk is running through our hands and we're envisioning ourselves spending our days in our characters' worlds.
But if we're going to eat, we kind of have to.
So how do we know when it's time to quit that day job, or at the very least go part time, especially in this very tight publishing climate? I can speak to this because I did it. Twice. The first time not terribly successfully, though I learned tons, the second successfully enough to launch me into a full-time career. I'm not going to go into a narcissistic telling of my experiences. I'll just share what I know from them, and from what I see going on now. Before you take the leap (even part time):
* Have a publishing resume.
That can mean a hefty list of short stories and/or articles, either print or on/line, paid blog gigs, or books that are bringing in income, again, either traditionally published, self-published, print, or e-books. We are talking INCOME PRODUCING publications that promise to continue, now that you'll have more time to devote to them.
* Have enough money in the bank to cover your expenses for six months.
Not just the basic bills and food but your writing-related items as well. You're going to use more supplies like journals, drink more coffee at the shop where you write, that kind of thing.
* Be prepared to cut corners.
Lattes at home, anyone? Meatless dinners? Last year's shoes from Payless? Friends doing your manis and pedis?
* Be willing to take side writing jobs that may not be fascinating for a while.
I was writing YA when I first went full time, andI did articles for those high school health class magazines on everything from sweat to circadian rhythms. Did you know that gustatory hypohydrosis means you sweat when you eat spicy food? You never know what info you'll pick up to impress people at cocktail parties.
*Be ready to work long -- and we are talking LOOOOONG hours.
Working for yourself is not a glamor gig where you get to sleep in, write a couple of hours, go out for lunch, take a nap, watch Netflix for inspiration ... There's no sick leave, paid vacays -- and weekends are pretty much like all other days.
* Make sure you are already self-disciplined, have a routine and are highly motivated
You may have written your supervisor into your novel as your antagonist and given him everything but fangs, (okay, maybe you've given him fangs) but your boss when you go full time free lance is you, so you may have to grow some. Better grow them BEFORE you give notice.
* Be in the publishing world
This is the hardest part for our beloved introverts, and most writers, especially fiction authors, ARE introverts. This means you've gone to writer's conferences, made contacts with editors, publishers, agents, others writers, magazine people. When you write for a publication, be personable in your emails to the staff. Join writers' Facebook groups. If you have an agent, get on the agency's client Facebook group (most of them have same). Writing is going to be your job so you'll want to know the people involved in it. They'll be able to give you the skinny on new opportunities -- especially sites like Linked In
Basically, you need to have it going on before you take that leap. You might be thinking, "Doesn't that kind of do away with the 'faith' part?" Not really. You're still giving up the security of a paycheck, insurance and other bennies, and there are no guarantees the writing work is always going to be there. Publishing is as fickle as the music industry, Hollywood and guys between the ages of 14 and 30. Okay, maybe 35. Where the faith really comes in is here:
If you truly believe -- because the writing does flow like the aforementioned silk scarf -- that God has given you a gift and God wants you to use it to enrich lives -- God will use it in some way. If it's meant to be in a full-time writing life, and you're willing to make the slow transition and eventually the final leap, it will happen. If it's to be a part of your total career and you're willing to do the same thing, yes. It will be.
I think we're saying it's about the timing. We need to rest in that, right? Write into it. Transition into it. Not rush into it before we're ready and end up living on Top Ramen. That's a sure way to stop believing in the gift and start believing you're a failure.
So yeah, the big ol leaps are exciting and dramatic and call for champagne. By the case. The transitions, though -- they're the day to day steps that slowly take you there. Just keep that scarf in your hands.
If you want to comment, tell us how the writing feels in your hands right now. Give us an image. Silk scarf? GLORIA's famous potato masher stuck in the drawer? A handful of confetti? Me? I just had a breakthrough, so it's like that big paper thing football players run through when they're going out onto the field. Show us what you're workin' with.