Slow Writer

I’m used to being a speedy writer, easily getting 1000 words, and usually closer to 2000 or 3000, on any given writing day—and that would just be on the fiction side, not reflecting my non-fiction work, blog entries, column ideas, or miscellaneous writing projects and experiments . . . And then I took a regularly-scheduled day job. I’m slowly getting into (and loving!) my new routine, but I was a bit worried a few days ago when I considered what it might be doing to my writing.

While I’ve been writing almost daily in June (to my huge relief, phew—in May I was worried about when I’d be able to return to that!), my word counts per session are way down. 380, 431, 494, 650, 733, 198 (gah!) . . . I only broke 1000 once this month. (Again though, not counting any non-fiction writing.) Yikes, my whole aim in getting a day job was to alleviate financial stress that was slowly quashing my creative joy—now was I in danger of potentially crushing my progress? Was I stuck in some lose/lose scenario? Absolutely not.

I did the math (funny how more and more as I get older I see the beauty and inspiration in numbers!); all those low numbers actually averaged 500 words per day. Even if I only write 20 days a month and even if I only get 500 words per session, that’s 10K in a month or, even more excitingly, 120K a year—a full novel, plus. And I suspect that most months I’ll write more than 20 days—and more than 500 words.

My worry changed to renewed excitement and fresh vigor. I love how my writing, no longer burdened with the need to generate money to live, is free to be my whimsy and passion again. And I especially love that I’ll be able to keep on track (easily!) with my novel a year goal, even if I keep being “slow.” I’m still striving to be a career novelist, hoping to write novels for enough money that I can work at them full time, writing even more of ‘em . . . but it’s nice to know that until that day comes, I don’t have to be a starving artist or sacrifice my writing goals.

It was a lovely realization and I’m thrilled to consider what my new routine will do for my writing.

How about you? Do you enjoy the luxury of writing full-time and still making ends meet? (Or perhaps struggle to make ends meet, but feel the pay off of doing what you love most makes it worth it?) Or do you balance your Art and a job/career? What are the benefits, pay-offs, or downsides of the type of writing life you lead?

11 thoughts on “Slow Writer

  1. I write for a living, but it’s not the type of writing I’d like to be doing. I find it extremely difficult to return to the computer after spending eight hours at my desk for the day job. The only solution I’ve found is to write *before* work, when I’m fresh, even though I’m the farthest thing from a morning person you’ll ever find.

    That works for awhile, until life gets so busy that I can’t get to bed early enough to write at six am. It’s a really difficult balance, and I hope some day I’ll be able to look back on it and say, “wow, that was rough. I’m sure glad it’s over!”


  2. This is a great post Ev! For me, I struggle to get my writing in everyday on top of working a full time job that is very physical and often leaves me totally drained at the end of the day. This was such a problem, and I was getting more and more frustrated that I finally worked out a new schedule. One week on for work and then next week off. My week off I now spend writing (mostly) and can get a heck of a lot done in a 7 day stretch with no actual job pestering me. Still, can’t wait for the day that it’s all writing no working 🙂


  3. I’m just delighted to hear you say “my writing… is free to be my whimsy and passion again” with less pressure on “accounting”. I hope you’ll try some new directions and follow up on some of those crazy ideas you tossed aside before!


  4. Dear Holli,

    I so understand/relate to your comment: “I write for a living, but it’s not the type of writing I’d like to be doing.I find it extremely difficult to return to the computer after spending eight hours at my desk for the day job.”

    Your solution sounds like mine. It’s hard sometimes, but so worth it. And I’m sure you’ll be able to look back and say you’re glad the day job is over sometime in the near future. In the meantime, I wish you huge luck energy!


  5. Dear Shannon,

    Thanks for dropping by–I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. I was wowed by your great solution. You’re really fortunate to be able to arrange your schedule one week on/one week off.

    “Ican get a heck of a lot done in a 7 day stretch with no actual job pestering me.”

    No doubt! Very cool.

    “Still, can’t wait for the day that it’s all writing no working.”

    Hopefully that day comes for all of us visiting this blog! 🙂


  6. Dear Vello,

    🙂 Thanks! 🙂 I mean it’s not like writing ever stopped being my passion, but you know what I mean . . .

    But now (PANIC!) I have to ask you, WHAT crazy ideas have I tossed aside???? I thought I acted on most of ’em (or at least put them in my “write someday” file). Please do tell. I might need to do some resurrecting!


  7. My work is on and off. I usually have the entire winter and most of the spring to devote to writing, yet oddly, I feel as though I accomplish more when I’m working. I guess having an entire day to do as I please doesn’t always mean I’ll buckle down and get at it. I know sounds silly. On the other hand, I know for certain I don’t wish to work full time.

    Writing consistently will get us further in the long run. Every word eventually has to add up..


  8. Thanks, Jen. 🙂

    >>>I’m sure there’s something they say about slow and steady<<<

    Yes, I think I've heard something about that too, actually . . .

    And there's also something to be said about fast and speedy. I had a day like that the other day again and it was lovely!


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