This week I've been weathering the Blizzard of 2011, an epic storm even by our tough Chicago winter standards. All in all I only lost about a half-day of productivity as hubby and I worked to clear the 2 feet of snow from our driveway and walk, but then it was back to business as usual. Not that we had much of a break---my husband was still expected to put in a full day's work from home for his corporate banking job, and I also put in a full day's work as a freelance writer-slash-mom.
Lately my freelance writing income has really picked up, to the point it is now roughly equal to what I earned working full-time in the corporate world. (This notwithstanding the fact that on a strict hours-worked basis, I am still only working part-time). People ask me how I do it. I tell them it's my livelihood, and since I have bills to pay, somehow I manage to muddle through. Which is not always easy when you're also caring for a busy three-year-old boy, mind you.
A while back a local playwright friend of mine marveled at the fact that I don't keep my "creative" writing and my "business" writing separate. In the theater world, it is pretty much de rigeur for people to have "day jobs" that they work their theatre lives around, and that's also true for many playwrights. But I'm a writer by trade and profession, and as such I consider playwriting to just be another kind of writing that I do for my livelihood, so I don't see any need to keep it "separate." (It's not as if I'm doing a lot of playwriting these days anyway, since I prefer to devote my attention to writing for a living, as opposed to for fun. I do get paid for my playwriting, mind you, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to what my other writing pays). This same playwright also doesn't have any children to worry about feeding, so I guess that probably plays into her decision to compartmentalize her writing life.
Some people in my playwrights' collective have been wondering where I've been lately since I don't make it to meetings much anymore, and I just tell them I've been busy working. "Doing what?" they ask. "Writing," I reply. Which is usually met with a puzzled look, then silence.
To me, either you write for a living or you don't. Plenty of people wax on about how they would love to write for a living, and yet they don't treat it like a job. If writing is your job, you get up every morning, and show up for work. (And if work is your laptop in your living room instead of an office, you still show up.) A typical day for me will include setting up interviews for the articles I'm required to file as a freelance journalist, writing an article or two and filing with an editor, then maybe plugging away at my current novel-in-progress. There might be an email or two into my literary agents or my editors, plus general housekeeping, keeping track of earnings and taxes, whatever. If I'm lucky I'll also have some time to read for pleasure (which I also consider part of my job as a writer, since reading other writers is the best way to keep your writing chops up). And remember, on top of all of this, I'm caring for a three-year-old, with no child care help.
So let's just say I really have no patience anymore for people who say, "Oh, well, I've been meaning to write, but I have writer's block," or "I really want to finish that novel I started, but I don't have time," blahblahblah.
Well, I've got the perfect cure for writer's block. It's called the mortgage payment. Deal, folks. And if you can't, leave this writing stuff to the professionals. I've already got enough competition as it is.