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. 

A Full-Time Writer for 100 Days

My life has some big changes coming. Tomorrow I begin a 3-month sabbatical from my day job. For 100 days, I'm going to be a full-time writer!

I hadn't originally planned on using a sabbatical to write. My current work/writing schedule works for me. It isn't, however, conducive to writing both the next Jaya Jones book and finishing The Accidental Alchemist with the deadlines I agreed to. I want to both have fun with the books and give myself the time I need to make them good. Thus the sabbatical.

In my life right now, I love how I have structure. It helps my productivity. Without structure, will I be productive or will I become a procrastinator? Only time will tell...

If all goes well, at the end of January I'll have a good draft of the first book in my new series for my editor and a full messy draft of Jaya Book 3 that I can revise. I find myself tempted to do things like fix up the house, which I know is more procrastination than anything. So I'm relying on these guys to keep me honest.

I'll post updates here and on Facebook and Twitter to let you know how it goes!