The End of My Sabbatical as a Full-Time Writer

100 days ago, I began the grand experiment of being a full-time writer. I was eligible to take a sabbatical at work, so I took the opportunity to finish writing The Accidental Alchemist

Last week, I turned in the novel. Whew!

Finishing a novel: laptop, coffee, notebook, research books,
critique reader notes, printed copy with scribbled notes, another notebook...

And yesterday, I went back to my day job!

I'm so excited about this book, but even more excited to go back to my normal life balancing two jobs that I love.

The sabbatical taught me some surprising things about writing, which I shared on the Pens Fatales blog last week. And here are my biggest personal takeaways from the sabbatical:

1. I'm not someone who wants to be a full-time writer.

Some people are cut out to be full-time writers. I've learned that I'm not one of them. I'm not giving up writing. On the contrary, I'm more committed to it than ever. But I want to write as part of a more balanced life.

I didn't enjoy the unstructured life that came with writing full time. Similar to my experience during graduate school, I felt like I always needed to be working. My regular schedule, in which I write for several hours three mornings a week plus plot on the train during my commute, works much better for my brain.

2. Writing to a deadline is awesome.

I knew this to some extent already, because I've successfully completed the National Novel Writing Month challenge several times.

But a messy NaNoWriMo draft is very different from a polished manuscript. Now I know that I can work toward a serious deadline and turn in a good finished product — which I did two days shy of my deadline.

Now that I'm back to my normal life, I'm looking forward to plotting my next novel in a paper notebook on my commuter train on the way to work, and happy that I know I'll meet my next deadline.