Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Trying Out Life as a Full-Time Writer

by Gigi Pandian

I've had a pretty amazing year. Right at the top of the list: there's no evidence of cancer in my body. Second on the list: I signed two three-book deals. Exactly what I wished for. Only...

Should I have been careful what I wished for?

When I was going through cancer treatments in 2011 and 2012, I very much embraced the "seize the day" mantra, throwing myself into writing and publishing while savoring the small things in life. But once life got back to normal, it was easy to let minor annoyances get in the way. I even found myself anxious about the amount of writing I'd agreed to take on by certain deadlines. Two of the six books I sold were complete, two more in draft form, and two completely unwritten.

Where's the fun in being stressed out about writing? The whole point of wanting to have a writing career is that it's something I love to do. So I took a step back and looked at my life. With the funky schedule of my graphic designer day job, I get several hours of writing done three mornings a week: two weekday mornings plus Sunday mornings -- and yes, it was a big sacrifice to give up leisurely Sunday mornings with the New York Times! Making tough choices like that is a given, if you're serious about fitting writing into your life. So even though I sometimes grumble when the alarm goes off on Sunday morning, I don't really mind. However, what I did mind was that with my new book deadlines I was starting to feel rushed.

There's a big difference between writing a competent book that has a decent plot, decent characters, and decent writing, and writing a truly engaging book that's exciting for the author to write and for the reader to devour. We all strive for the latter. Without sufficient time, I felt like I might only succeed at the former. I love each of these books, so I didn't wish I could back out of writing any of them. I wanted to find a way to fit them into my life.

If you read the title of this blog post, you already know where this is heading. I've decided to take a three-month sabbatical from my day job. For 100 days, I'm going to be a full-time writer!

My sabbatical begins this coming Saturday and I don't go back to work until February. During my time as a full-time writer, I'm going to finish writing/revising one novel and write a draft of another.

This is a grand experiment for me. I'm not someone who fantasizes about being a full-time writer. I'm definitely lucky that I love my day job. But more than that, I love how it gives me structure. If I know I have to be at work at 12:30, damn straight I'm getting up and getting my writing done with no excuses. I'm hoping three months is a long enough time for me to do everything I want to do, but a short enough time that it provides that same procrastination-killing fire under me that I'm used to. Wish me luck!

p.s. I'll be doing NaNoWriMo to kick off my writing this November. Anyone else?


Rachael Herron said...

love love love this.

Lisa Hughey said...

So happy you are doing this!! I see writing dates in our future!! :)

Gigi Pandian said...


Gigi Pandian said...

Yes! Most definitely.

Adrienne Bell said...

Such a wonderful opportunity.Here's hoping that your great experiment is a grand success.

Gigi Pandian said...

Thanks, Adrienne! I'm so lucky I have the opportunity. I'm really curious to see what I think of it...

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