On Writing Full Time

By Edith Maxwell
North of Boston

I have a big announcement. After almost twenty years of writing technical announcementdocumentation for my day job, I’ve decided to segue into my next career. I’m now a full-time fiction writer! (And to celebrate, I’m giving away an advance review copy of A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die to a randomly selected commenter on this post.)

This is a big step, one that both scares and excites me. It’s a little frightening because I don’t have a million or two squirreled away for my retirement income, and while I have two published books and several short stories out there, the money they pull in isn’t quite enough for a lavish lifestyle (okay, any lifestyle, really, although so far it’s covered my writing expenses). On the other hand, when we moved last summer we landed in a lovely smaller house with no mortgage, I already drive a Prius, and I know how to be frugal. And I can get Massachusetts low-cost health care.

clockBut it’s exciting on several fronts, which all center on the theme of time. It’s been very stressful to try to fit in writing, revising, and promoting my books around an eleven-hour workday away from home. I can’t wait to have time to stretch and do some yoga and other forms of wellness exercise.

I look forward to having time to have lunch with a friend, to write letters (yes, handwritten on paper) to my sons, to connect more.

Mostly I’m excited about having time to write the best books I can. It surely takes time to crank out the shitty first draft (as Anne Lamott called it), but you have to put in the hours with butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard. Then crafting and polishing until the language rings and the plot twists surprise is a lot more work. It’s hard work, for sure, but it’s work that makes me so happy.

Just before and after the book comes out, getting the word out to readers also involves a big investment of time. Arranging guest blog posts and then writing them. Contacting farmers who might like the Local Foods Mysteries series and then let their customers know. Visiting book clubs. Speaking and reading at library events. Traveling to conferences. All while polishing the next book and working on the synopsis for the book after that.

And then there are the next books. I want to continue the Speaking of Mystery series with Quaker linguistics professor Lauren Rousseau and murder on campus and in small-town Ashford. I hope the Local Foods Mysteries series contract will be extended. And I have a whole new historical mystery series I’m working on. Being a full-time fiction writer will let me put in the time to make the next books happen.

As of Monday I’ve been sitting in my new office crafting the new shape to2011-04-15 01.00.53 my days and it’s wonderful.

How about you? If you write, do you fit it in around a day job or do it pretty much full time? How do you make that work? Readers, have you taken the plunge to follow your passion in one way or another? Or do you have a five-year plan to do so?

We’ll randomly select one of the commenters here to receive an ARC of A Tine to Live, a Tine to Die, which releases next week!

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About Edith Maxwell

Agatha-nominated and national bestsetlling author Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mystery series (Kensington Publishing) and the historical Quaker Midwife Mysteries (Midnight Ink). As Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries series and the new Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries (both from Kensington Publishing). Edith has also published award-winning short crime fiction. She lives north of Boston in an antique house with her beau and three cats.

30 thoughts on “On Writing Full Time

  1. Congratulations on your decision, Edith. I quit my real job 11 years ago and it was one of my better decisions. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but knew what I didn’t want to do.

    I took six months to say “no” to everyone else’s idea of what I should do and contemplate what I wanted to do. The result of that process was the knowledge that writing was what called me.

    I suspect your approach is much more practical than mine, but mine has worked out well, and I wish you all the best success in your new full-time endeavor.

    ~ Jim

  2. how exciting for you!! congrats & good luck!!
    i’ve often think to do something else, but what?!?!?! if reading, napping, going to the movies, shopping was an actual career, i would be SOOOOOO there!!!! LOL!!!

    my ‘Wish5Year’ plan is to retire to travel around the world!!!

    thank you for this fun giveaway!!!!

  3. I’m really happy to read this news, Edith. Really happy! I’ve transitioned to a variation of this life, as you know. I give myself word counts and deadlines and it works. I also have worked in other consultant work; for the most part, I am able to divide my days between creative writing and writing for money. It’s too easy, however, to succumb to external demands (and other people’s expectations) so you have to set firm precedents right now. You already know how to do this or you wouldn’t have a ton of published work out there. But….something about having whole days removes a certain motivating pressure from the mix.
    Congratulations! Rae

  4. I’m really happy to read this news, Edith. Really happy! I’ve transitioned to a variation of this life, as you know. I give myself word counts and deadlines and it works. I also have worked in other consultant work; for the most part, I am able to divide my days between creative writing and writing for money. It’s too easy, however, to succumb to external demands (and other people’s expectations) so you have to set firm precedents right now. You already know how to do this or you wouldn’t have a ton of published work out there. But….something about having whole days removes a certain motivating pressure from the mix.
    Congratulations! Rae
    (I hope this doesn’t show up twice. My first comment doesn’t seem to be here)

  5. Congratulations, what exciting news. Have you stocked up on delicious tea? I always imagine writers drinking tea.

  6. Woo hoo, Edith! I know that you are excited about the next step and doing it full time. I didn’t set down to write a novel until I retired from teaching. I told folks that I planned to write a novel when asked what I would do with my time. They would look at me as if I told them I had plans to try out for a professional baseball team. Good Luck!

  7. I retired a few years ago for the sole purpose of writing. I haven’t earned a penny yet…but, then, it doesn’t cost much to sit and write, to take long walks, and to daydream, does it?

  8. Congratulations on your career and lifestyle change! In our 20’s we want to change the world. As we get older we figure out that by doing our own thing, we ARE changing the world! I truly admire you for going after what you want out of life. You’re an inspiration to others who may not want to live by the traditional 9 to 5 job. Also, I love the painting over your desk!

    • Thanks so much, Karen. The painting is lovely, isn’t it? My best friend commissioned a local artist to do it for my 60th birthday last fall. It’s called “Edith’s World.” I love it!

      • How lucky you are to have a friend who would commission a painting for you! What an original gift! I had already clicked on the photo to see it larger because the colors are so lovely, and the quilter in me had to see the details.

  9. Congratulations, Edith! I can totally relate to how tough it is to write books under deadline while holding down a full-time job. I’m exceedingly jealous! Enjoy every moment of your new-found freedom 🙂

  10. Congratulations for being brave enough to choose for career what you love! I’m so excited about your Local Foods mystery series. Can’t wait for the 1st one to be available next week. Keep writing them & I will keep buying them for our library! Thanks for sharing the news and for the giveaway of Tine to Live, Tine to Die.

  11. Edith, this is such wonderful news. You, out of anyone I know, makes the most of time. I am looking forward to reading your even bigger and better books with your new-found time and the freedom it gives you to imagine, live, and work!

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