If you’re working on a big writing project such as a novel, how do you find a way to pay your bills, feed your children and pay your rent or mortgage?
Let’s face it – most of us don’t have the luxury of full-time writing. In fact a very small percentage of writers in Australia make a living out of writing alone. Most of us need another job, be it serving tables at the local bistro, selling books at a bookshop or even cleaning sewer pits. We’d rather be writing but if we stayed at home and completed our big writing projects, instead of going out into the real world, we could possibly end up with no roof over our head (let alone an office to write in).
Sorry to be negative but this is the reality. I’m not saying give up. Don’t do that. I just think we should be smarter about our writing.
If you truly have the dream to be a writer and nothing else (job-wise that is – you will always still be a mother, father etc.) you need to look at the big picture not the big project. Don’t stop your novel but start something little.
Long manuscripts can take months, even years to complete. Then you submit your baby to potential publishers, wait months and months for a reply, get a rejection, send it off again and the cycle continues. Finally an editor sees the brilliance in your prose and offers you a contract. Thereafter it takes another year before you book actually gets released and then you’ll be lucky if you even see it in a bookstore. You’ll have to do signings and promote it. If you were honored enough to be offered an advance you may still being staying out of the gutter but if not you’ll have to wait on dribs and drabs of royalties to keep you from strangling a debt collector.
Sorry that’s the reality (unless of course you are really special or have a big inheritance to fall back on). So what do you do?
Write articles, write short stories and write anything that is short and quick and can be sold to a market. You do this in-between each chapter of your novel as you complete it (only a suggestion). Presto – you have about 20 articles, short stories or how-to-dos in the marketplace as well as one complete novel.
But don’t rest on your laurels (or your keyboard keys). When the novel is doing the rounds of the publishers begin the next one. Again send freelance work out in-between. The point is that if you plan your time you should be able to keep doing your novel but also write money-generating pieces.
This way eventually you may actually be able to throw your waitress apron up in the air; quit the bookstore and only enter it again when you hold your own book signing; and as for cleaning sewer pits – never, ever again!
Wouldn’t that be nice? I wish you luck in that quest but I must point out there is much more to writing for the freelance market – maybe I’ll delve further another day.