I’m writing something about this for a non-fiction text I’m working on and I thought a word or two might be useful here. Does a full-time writer, in fact, spend all of what might be classed the working day sat at desk writing? Probably not.
But how do you know when you’re successful. What does success look like?
The book-shaped swimming pool
This concept was offered at a conference I attended. The speaker suggested that you might be convinced that you were a real writer by the time you were able to afford, from your earnings as a writer, a home with a book-shaped swimming pool.
Well, I don’t yet have a book-shaped swimming pool but I can afford a gym membership, and the gym has a swimming pool, and in in non-Covid times, I can afford to go on holiday to places with swimming pools. So, I’m getting there, right?
Without being too indulgent I have a nice life style. But is all of that from my earnings as a writer and do I spend a lot of my time writing? Not quite, but maybe I’m getting there.
I aim to spend three hours a day writing and also to produce 2000 words. That is every single day of the year. I take Christmas Day, my birthday and travelling days off and sometimes life events get in the way. I just write those words another time and send the hours on another day. I’m behind at the moment but not too far behind.
I also spend my time on social media and on editing, publishing, marketing my work and that of others and submitting my work.
I attend French, German and Spanish conversation groups and interesting talks and seminars. I’m involved with a choir.
Maybe I’m spending about thirty hours a week on writerly activities?
Does my writing have an impact?
I’m placing about 60% of what I’m writing. So, about 60% of my output has so far found a publisher – in a paying market. That might be on an online e-zine, in a printed anthology, with a small publisher, with a bigger publisher or even in one to the imprints for which I edit but this will include a full editorial process. It takes a while to place texts. That time taken dilutes any income that I earn from those placements.
Am I earning a living from my writing?
Not quite. Payments are poor. But they do add up with royalties, income from work published by the imprints I manage, ALCS and PLR payments. I used to do author visits and they were quite lucrative. I’m not pursuing those so much now as I don’t need the extra cash, though I will accept interesting work.
I was a senior lecturer in creative writing. That led to a decent pension when I retired. So, it feels like payment for my writing.
There is always the possibility anyway that one work will really take off.
Do I have permission to spend time writing?
Yes I do. 60% is good enough to be paid for. The other 40% is just as good - it just hasn’t found the right home yet.
I have some adequate and some good reviews – and just enough lousy ones to show that I’m a real writer.
I was once paid a lot of money because I was deemed to know enough about it in order to be able to teach. By the way, it just isn’t true that those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t can’t teach either!
Well, then, living the dream or what?