July 4th is most always associated with independence. It’s an important day in American history and has been the subject of many novels and movies. Since today is July 4th I hope that all are enjoying this national holiday with family and friends. My family is coming together for the annual cookout and just some plain old fun and relaxation.
Since Fresh Fiction was so kind to allow me the opportunity to talk to you today, I decided that it was important to reflect on “Independence Day.” As writers, most folks believe we have this incredible freedom to do as we please. Work when we please, write what we please, etc. But that’s not entirely true. Like any other job/career, we not only have immensely high standards to keep, we have schedules, deadlines, reader and market expectations just like any other retail/entertainment business. The business of staying employed as a writer can get pretty darned stressful despite the seeming “independence” we have from the usual career routines of going to the office or annual job performance evaluations. And, like numerous other aspects of business today, writers have not been immune to the less-than-optimal economy.
I wanted to focus on one aspect of what we do, true “independence.” Because we love to tell our stories (love to be paid to write them and then see them in print too), it’s very easy to end up in a frightening financial situation. I remember when I first leaped into this business and I heard many authors talk about not giving up your day job too soon. That remains a very valid point and one which all authors otherwise employed should consider carefully before changing. I’ll take this advice one more step: DO NOT CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE (new car, house, etc) TOO SOON! This is a monumental mistake and can cause immense stress. I know this from experience. Since I was very fortune right from the beginning and had the opportunity to write many books (number 72 is out this month after only 10 years!), I got caught up in the “I can certainly afford this now syndrome.” Big mistake. One which required much self-discipline and many hard choices to rectify.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting that new monster TV, or a newer, better vehicle, or even a bigger house as long as it doesn’t put you in a position to make a quota–in this case to write a certain number of books and/or get a certain number of contracts each year. This is a trap of your own making and can snuff the fun right out of what you love to do: Write.