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My Holiday Plans – or How Every Holiday is a Missed Opportunity

December 17th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
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Ever wonder what it would be like to live the life of a full time writer? You can experience it! Use your holidays wisely.

Why would you want to do this? Well, there are a few reasons you might want to spend a day or week being a full time writer. For a start, you will get more writing done than you normally would, and really, you don’t need more reasons than that!

My Christmas tree!

This is my Christmas tree! It's so priddy!

But more importantly I think, it enables you to fully understand what being a full time writer means. Because it’s not just about writing all day (from what I can gather ;-) ). Sure, there are plenty things that you won’t experience during this experiment – conversations with your agent, or editor; preparing your book for self-publication; counting up your fortune as a famous author (that one was a joke).

You will be thinking about it though, and you will be experiencing part of it, and you know what? This may be the experience that seals the deal for you. You may fall so in love with it that it changes your outlook. Suddenly you find yourself planning your exit strategy, so you can get out of the doldrums and into writing. This could be the holiday that starts it all!

Or you may discover you hate it. Even this limited foray into the deeper world of writing might put you off completely. But this is still incredibly useful information. Imagine if you’d waited until you’d quit your job to discover that!

There is a middle ground of course, which is perhaps more likely than the other outcomes. Writing (we may have established this already) is hard. You may love it, but that doesn’t necessarily make it easier.

But over the course of the holiday week (or whatever) you can develop strategies to get around these problems. You may discover that you can’t sit down all day – go for a walk, then work that into your routine for the next day. Maybe you write best if you do so in three hour blocks, or half hour sprints – the things you encounter will help you decide how to break up your writing day. This is all good preparation. When the time comes, you may be able to hit the ground jogging, if not running.

Why I haven’t done this so far

You’ve read this blog before, right? You know what’s coming.

I haven’t done this yet, although I think about it every time I take time off work. Then I berate myself for a missed opportunity.

There are a number of things that get in the way of executing this plan. The most obvious one is a lack of discipline, and yes, I am guilty of this. Frankly, as much as I enjoy the sense of achievement and satisfaction of getting writing done, a lot of the time it still feels like work. When I’m taking a break from work, I don’t want to do some more work, even if I would feel better for it afterwards. Sometimes I just want to veg out or play computer games.

Another problem is other people (aren’t they always?) I will often sync my holidays with other people, like, family and stuff. Obviously I can’t arrange this and then disappear for the entire day.

Finally, (and again this is to do with a lack of time), there are other things I need to be doing now that I have the opportunity. Like housework, and those annoying DIY jobs that stack up and never get completed.

In fact, I will often queue up a bunch of jobs to do on days off, and only complete about half of them – writing can quickly disappear off my schedule entirely!

What Might Make it Easier, Then?

So, I’ve been thinking about ways to make this a bit easier, and here are a few suggestions:

Make a plan of your day

Take a little time to think about the kind of things you would be doing as a full time writer. Now look at that list and decide which activities you can do now. You might also want to pick some subjects you can find out about now, if you don’t know about them already – this might form a research slot in the plan of your day.

Some example activities are

  • writing new work
  • editing a drafted piece
  • submitting short work to magazines
  • working on a blog, if you have one (if not, you might want to research about that. Then you can get into the whole debate about whether to write a personal blog, a blog about writing, or a blog around the kind of things you write about. Lots to think about.)
  • reading – and this might be reading within your genre, reading non-fiction for research, or reading about the process of writing, for example.
  • putting yourself out there. I’m being vague here, but the kind of activities I’m thinking about here are internet based, and are about getting involved in the writing community. This means going on social networks, reading other blogs or forums etc. Getting involved as much as possible with the people who are already out there and doing it. Make yourself known to them.

I suggest a good mindmapping session or similar to think up a few others. And they could well be different for everyone. I’ve already mentioned going for a walk for example, but that’s not something everyone will feel is helpful to them.

Once you’ve got your list, fit the activities into your day. I would start with fitting writing new material in your day, followed by editing, then fit everything else around those things. Be sure to think about what breaks you might need as well. You may not be able to do everything every day, so I recommend doing this experiment over several days if you can.

Make sure your working space is ready

You don’t want to be spending your first day/morning/hour even setting up your work space. Make sure you have some time set aside before your holiday to make your workspace writing ready.

prepare people

You probably have other people in your life who might want to spend some time with you, so make them aware of what you would like to do. If this is your significant other, you may have to negotiate and reach a compromise on how much time you spend or when. The important thing is to make clear what is going to happen so they are not demanding your time when you need it most.

And that is all for now, but of course, I’m curious as to what your writing day looks like. Let us all know how you divide your day to get things done. If you’re a full time writer, what does your day look like, and what are your hours like?