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?