Thursday, September 30, 2010

End of Third Quarter

Ah, the day job mentality runs over into my writing life. Today, September 30th is the end of the third quarter in the year. For me at my day job that means running/calculating quarterly reports to send out to clients....in my writing career that means I have three months left to complete the one or more of the yearly goals that I've set.

How are you doing on your writing goals? Now is the time to review and put your nose to the grind stone to them all or at least one completed. Me? I need to get 500 words written today to meet at least half of a monthly goal that I set before I do a yearly goal review tomorrow.

Hoping your close to meeting your writing goals.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Word Count Wednesday

I'm up to 5500 words for this month. I'm about 700 words short on having three chapters completed in my work in progress. I'm determined to have them on paper by the end of the month...so mid-night tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Miscellaneous

The day job gets a bad rap from most writer's wishing they could write full time. I hope this month I showed you why a day job is important as you launch your writing career and even throughout your writing career.

So the next time you are fed up with your day, remember some of the benefits it does allow you as a writer. Instead of begrudging it, use it to your benefit.

Use the setting of your day job as the setting of your book.
Give a character a career based on your day job-have the young character in your story embarassed by that type of occupation
Use a co-workers speech pattern or word choices to define a character.

Don't forget you may think your day job is boring but someone else will find it very interesting!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reason Number Ten

The last reason for keeping your day job while you start your writing career is standard of living. We all have as unique standard of living as personality so you must consider this when contemplating giving up your day job.

For example, I've always worked where I can easily (sometimes too easily) indulge in a "fancy" coffee drink daily. Not only does my day job allow the funds to do this but the means...close proximity. However, I live in a rural area so if I quit my day job I also give up a daily mocha, cappucino or frappacino. Why? Because my writing income may not allow for one along with the fact that the closest coffee shop is 12 to 20 miles away and I wouldn't be able to make that trip daily. This may be a simple example but applies to many things, like lunch or dinner out, expensive make up or spa visits. Any luxury item falls into this example.

Other than advances, your writing income consists of royalites that are paid quarterly. Will you be able to wait to make purchases? Go out for lunch or dinner? Get your hair done?

All jobs changes affect your standard of living and writing full time from home is no exception. You need to look at your lifestyle and see if the life of a freelance writer meshes with your standard of living.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reason Number Nine

When you work outside of your home it's easier to keep up with the trends in society, which is reason number nine.

Most publishers will tell you not to use "slang language" because it dates your work. For example today's preteen will not use the word-groovy like they did when I was that age. And you seldom find a romance heroine who is a housewive in heels and pearls. I realize those are extreme examples but since I began writing for publication in 1991, many society trends have changed not to mention technology. As a writer, unless you are writing historicals, you work needs to keep up with the times.

I am not a gadget person but my son and a co-worker are so they can keep me in the loop on most peoples must haves. I'm a writer and open a dictionary often, however today's young people would probably look up a word through internet access on their cell phones. So even though the publishers frown on language trends, they wouldn't want your teenaged protaginist trudging through the house to grab a dictionary when they would actually look it up through their computer or phone.

Clothing trends are another thing you keep up on when you are working outside of your home. When I started my "day job" career, ladies who worked in offices dressed up. That meant business suits or nice dresses/dress pants with hose and dress shoes. No one had casual Fridays or "jeans" days. As time went on businesses turned to a more casual dress code. Would I have realized this, had I not experienced it on a day to day basis? I don't know. My opinion is it's hard to keep track of social trends or changes if you're not out in the world each and every day.

So another reason to keep the day job is so your writing can reflect the times you live in.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Word Count Wednesday

My word count total for the month is now 4177....not as many as I hoped but I'm getting there!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Reason Number Eight

Character studies are reason number eight and it ties back to socialization from earlier in the month.

Listening to people as they relay their daily lives or memories can help you shape realistic characters.

What seems like a romantic gesture to one woman, another woman may find it very inadequate. That could be inspiration to write a scene in which your hero contemplates doing something for the heroine but remembers a bad reaction from an old girl friend.

No two people react the same to any situation. Watch what happens to a change in policy in the work place. Some people openly and angerily voice their opinions on why the change isn't fair. The next person may say nothing but you can tell by their sour expression that they don't agree and the next person may just shrug it off. These reactions and the body language that goes with them will help you flesh out a character and how they react to any time of change in their lives.

Getting flawed but sympathic characters is every writer's goal but when we only have our feelings to base a situation our characters can become flat. Imagine reading a book where every character reacted the same way to every situation. There'd be no room for growth on the character's part. No one to set an example or give a different perspective to the main characters. Working a day job gives you access to all personality types and insights on how to create a diverse character.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Reason Number Seven

Reason number seven to keep your day job is your writing market might dry up. Yeah, right some nay sayers may be thinking but it happens all the time. Magazines fold, website's disappear, book lines are dropped, editors are replaced and you the writer are left to start over.

Again, while you learn search for new markets, hone your writing to fit a new magazine's style or revising the manuscript that took you six months to write and target to a book line that now closed...it helps to have a day job, which of course translates to a steady pay check. Depending on what you write, it may take anywhere from six to eighteen months to get yourself re-established enough that you are getting article assignment or multiple book contracts.

What if these new markets purchase your work but pay less per word in the case of a new magazine market or the advance is lower on the new book contract. Are you prepared to produce more work to make up for the loss of income?

Although this sounds depressing, it is a reality for freelance writer and another thing to consider before giving up your day job.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Reason Number Six

Time management is the sixth reason to keep your day job. You've disciplined yourself to get up an hour early and write. Or you block two hours after dinner to devote to your writing career. Maybe you use all of Saturday afternoon to knock a rough draft of a chapter. Why? Because you know that a good portion of your working day is spent at the day job. You fit the writing into your schedule.

But when you quit your day job, there's no longer a schedule. You have all day to write. Yet, many times other things get in the way. Like watching a morning talk show, reading the newspaper, chatting with your neighbor.

Ask yourself if you are disciplined enough to get into a "home office" routine. Getting up and getting your day started just as if you were commuting and reporting to your day job. I'll be the first to admit that if I didn't have to get up at 6:30AM during the week, I wouldn't so that means my morning routine would be pushed back into at least mid-morning. Which translates into less than an eight hour workday for me. Sounds wonderful but not realistic if I was trying to live off my writing income!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Word Count Wednesday

My word count is still 3567 for the month.

Sad but true! Are you wondering why the writer who talked about time management last month has the same word count number as last week? Well it's one of the curves that life throws at you that you must handle. I had an estate auction last weekend so all my free time was used with last minute preparations for that. But I will get back into the swing this week!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reason Number Five

Creativity is the fifth reason not to quit your job day while establishing your writing career.

Many writer's save enough money to take a year Sabbatical from their day job to start their freelance writing career. They squirrel away enough to cover basic living expenses but what happens when the water heater or furnace breaks? Their savings is diminished and so is their creativity.

Another scenario is selling a couple of books and quitting the day job because the writing career has taken off, but in the ever changing world of publishing, what if the next book contract is eighteen months in coming? You are out of living expenses and forced to look for a part-time or full-time. Can you be creative with plotting when you are updating your resume and interview skills? Will you feel like logging two thousand words on your manuscript after a long day of training on a new job?

Creativity goes hand in hand with worry and writer's block. If your finances demand you to write or starve will your plot be creative or forced? Will your characters be fully developed or flat and generic? Worry can trigger writer's block, then what do you do?

I recently read an interview with a literary agent who said, you need to have at least ten books written before you consider quitting the day job unless you want to OR can live on a gross income of about $10,000.00. It's easier to be creative when you have peace of mind. So keep the day job for a while.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Reason Number Four

The fourth reason to keep your day job is benefits. Now, I did talk about health insurance, which is a benefit but there are also other benefits to consider besides health, life, dental and vision insurance.

One reason is taxes. Employers withhold and report your Medicare, Social Security, Federal and State (if applicable) to the appropriate government enities. Do you know that your employer matches the withholding on Medicare and Social Security? So if you are writing full that means you will have to pay both your withholding and your match amount. If you are not savy with numbers or accounting priniciples you'll need to hire an accountant to report these taxes to the government. Paying taxes will require you to put aside "X" amount of money from each advance or royality payment so your taxes can be paid quarterly. This is in addition to any sales tax you need to report from direct sales of books.

The second benefit is retirement savings. Many employers offer a 401(k) or 403(b) to their employees. Many times they match up to six percent of the what the employee saves per year. Six percent is free money to the employee! And that can add up over time. Plus these benefit programs can make it difficult to withdraw your savings so the money will be there when you retire. Yes, there are retirement plans that a freelance writer can invest in but statisics show that most people are not good savers. If given the choice between sending money into a IRA account or splurging on a new tv, many will chose the tv.

Just a few more things to consider before quitting the day job.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Reason Number Three

Socialization.

Writing is a solitary occupation. Working a full or part time job keeps you connected to the world around you, which for a writer is (or should be) reasearch.

If you write romance novels, there are many benefits to socializing with your co-workers. Editors are always on the look out for unique occupations for heriones/heros. Inquire what your office mates spouse does for a living. I like to ask people how they met their spouse or signifigant other after all my hero and herione MUST meet or I have no romance story.

Some of your co-workers probably have children or grandchildren at various ages. Listen to what parent say about their children. What activities the child is involved in at school, outside of school. That could be the subject of a non-fiction article or part of the plot line in a middle grade reader. Trends in the younger generation move fast. T-ball and soccer were unheard of extra curricular activies forty years ago when I was child. My son's generation loved arcades but with the ease of obtaining gaming systems at home some of that focus has changed.

It's hard to write for the world around you if you aren't out experiencing it for yourself!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Word Count Wednesday

Since we're in a new month, I have a new word count total, 3567 words written so far in the month of September. I'm crossing my fingers that the figure doubles by next Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Reason Number Two

Another reason to work a "day job" is health insurance. Although many writer's organizations provide health insurance or the accessiblity of health insurance, these premiums are usually very high. You can purchase purchase private health insurance, but again the premiums are high as well as the deductable and keep going up if you have a pre-existing condition.

Depending on the size of the group, the group plan at a day job will usually have lower monthly premiums and better benefits and existing conditions are not factored in. So more bang for your buck.  Group plans do vary and there are many small groups that do have higher premiums but probably NOT as high as private individual or family coverage.

If you are not lucky enough to have a spouse who carries the insurance for your and/or your family, you may want to keep your day job for the health insurance coverage they provide. Medical services are expensive and can add up fast which could lead to loss of productivity and creativity.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Reason Number One

I thought I'd try to come up with ten reasons not to quit your day job while pursueing your writing career and cover each one as a blog topic. I've thought of a few reasons but not quite ten. Hopefully, I'll be able to come up with ten reasons.

But here's the first: You have to pay the bills. Yes, I've heard of starving artists but I don't really want to be one. Not that I couldn't stand to lose a few pounds but if I didn't have money for food, I probably couldn't pay the electric bill or my internet provider. In this day and age of writing, both of those are necessites!

The reality of the publishing world is: Even if you gain an acceptance, it may take months to received the payment for your manuscript. Many magazines, including some of the "big slicks", pay on publication and they work months in advance. So the non-fiction article you sold in the fall might be featured in April's issue. That means you won't see your paycheck until March at the earliest.

You decided to only submit to pay on acceptance magazines. I prefer those too but many of my sales to pay on acceptance publications has taken three to six months for them to accept my story/article/devotion. Very few publications make a decision on a manuscript in less than thirty days. Remember editor's have other job duties besided reading manuscripts all day.

Book publishing is an entirely different ball game. It can take up to a year for a book publisher to send you a contract, especially if you're just breaking into the publishing game. Once they received the signed contracts they pay half your advance pretty promptly.

But in all of these scenerios how did you pay your bills for six months to a year that you waited for an acceptance/payment for your manuscript.

By having a paycheck from a day job!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Word Count Wednesday

I ended the month with 15,246 words! YAY!

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