So, you’ve closed the social media tabs, tucked the little one in for the night and fed the dog. Great. Woo hoo! You’re ready to write! …Until your friend contacts you and asks you to (fill in the blank), and you will, right? Because you can just drop everything…after all, you’re a writer. Your schedule is flexible.
The moment you decide to become a full-time writer, you must stop seeing it as a hobby. Treat it as a career. Writing is my career and I know I wouldn’t be able to write the 7-part middle grade fantasy series Belinda Starr if I didn’t treat it as such. Even if you don’t plan on making money off of it, you did decide to start writing for a reason, right? Maybe you just want the accomplishment of completing a novel. Whatever your reasons, you still have a book to write, and the more you treat it like an afterthought, the more it’s going to be reflected as such in your results.
So, then. This: After you’ve prioritized (family needs, etc), make your writing schedule inflexible. Ask yourself, if your writing time were time spent working another job, say, at a local deli or at a school as a teacher, would you be as willing to drop everything? As a writer, you are your own boss. At any other job, what would your boss say if your friend called and demanded “you need a break”?
You may not even commit said drop because you’re “such a good friend”. Be honest. You just might be looking for a distraction…an excuse to not write. If you’re reading this and you have an author friend or one in the family, pay attention: This writing thing they’re doing…? It’s important to them. My family and friends have, for the most part, been pretty respectful of my writing time, but their minds aren’t wired like that of a writer. Home time to them is free time. Home time to me, more often than not, is writing time.
Now, writers, if you’re headed for a burn-out, then by all means, take a break. And what’s more, being a full-time writer doesn’t mean your whole life should revolve around writing. Make time for other things. As difficult as it is for me at times to tear myself away from Belinda Starr, I do have other things going on in my life. Don’t neglect your relationships and your health. Find a good balance (I recommend a break every hour or so to get up AWAY from the computer/desk and do something else for ten minutes, a short walk, fold a load of laundry, etc., but then get back to it!)
Point is, when it comes to writing, you need decide your schedule, and sometimes, you won’t know if your schedule is doable until you try it on for size. Tweak what needs to be tweaked, but find a schedule that works for you, and then stick to it. Solid. Inflexible. Remember, this isn’t just a hobby. This is your career, or it’s at least something you want to happen. Make it happen.