1) start a new novel
2) work on my novel first thing every day, even if I had to get up an hour earlier
3) find or create paying work that I enjoyed more than what I was currently doing to earn a living
4) sell my detective series to another publisher
By March 1, I had accomplished the three things I had control over—although not the way I expected to. January first, I began to outline my new Detective Jackson novel with working title, SECRETS TO DIE FOR. I began getting up at five o’clock to write for an hour before I went to work. At the time, I worked as an editor for an educational publisher, a demanding job that left me too mentally exhausted at the end of the day to feel creative enough to fill blank page after blank page (which is how a novel comes into existence).
Next, I started sending out letters to agents, publishers, and writers, announcing my services as a fiction editor. And I contacted some corporate clients and magazines about nonfiction editing as well. Then I took the biggest step: I asked my employer to let me cut back on my hours at work, thinking it would be long slow transition to self-employment. They promptly laid me off.
Thank you very much.
Terrified, but joyously liberated, I plunged into a new routine: Write for three or four hours exclusively on my novel first thing every morning, break for an hour of exercise, then freelance edit for others. And the work poured in—enough to pay the bills. Now in the evenings, instead of trying to squeeze in a little bit of uninspired writing, I have time to network and market my novel that’s currently in print, THE SEX CLUB. Most days I’m at my desk from six in the morning until ten at night, but very little of it feels like work.
I love my new life! My bathroom is perpetually untidy, dinner is often an unimaginative freezer-to-oven meal, and there’s laundry backed up everywhere. But yesterday, I passed page 150 on my novel, so who cares? My husband says he’s never seen me so happy. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve put my personal writing first. Making a living, raising kids, taking care of extended family, and keeping the house together were always a priority. These things are still important, but they are no longer most important. (Don’t call child services; my kids are adults now.)
My goal is keep it going for as long as possible—because I finally feel like my real self. I know that not every writer is in a position to make this kind of change, but I heartily recommend it if you can.