Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quitting the Day Job

I recently quit the day job to write full-time. Before I left, I had this vision in my head of what my new, carefree life would be like.

I would rise from bed somewhere around 7:00 a.m. I would write for a few hours and take a mid-morning break for Yoga. After a sensible lunch, I would get online for an hour, then continue writing. After dinner, I would go for a jog. Nights would be used for family time. After 9:00 p.m. I would watch some TV and then snuggle into bed and dream happily about another carefree day ahead. 

But that's not quite how it turned out. 

I crawl from bed somewhere around 11:00. The house is a mess by then because my daughter has been terrorizing the place for a good four hours while my husband does his homework. I check my email. Check Twitter. Check my email. Eat breakfast (lunch?). Watch an episode of Project Runway.

The rest of the afternoon is spent doing what Her Highness (my daughter) demands. I try to fit in a trip to the gym, or a jog in the evening. Breakfast is my only sensible meal of the day and that's because my husband made it and set it in front of me. Mostly I eat pretzels. Somewhere around 8:00 p.m. I look at my to-do list and then shove it beneath a pile of stuff. Then I check my email. Check Twitter. Check my email. Drool over all the pretty things on Tumblr.

Most days I don’t actually start writing till 11:00 p.m. and then work till 4:00ish. It’s worked for me so far (besides the sleeping half a day thing). There are no distractions, but do I really want to spend the rest of my life living half my day in the dark? Probably not.

With any big change or transition, I think you need to set a routine as quickly as possible. And I think that’s important for every writer. Some are better at it than others. I’m still trying to figure out a good schedule for myself. I think it would help if I had my own writing cottage so I could write carefree, distraction-free, throughout the day.

What do you think? Google tells me this is Roald Dahl’s writing cottage. I want it. 

Jennifer Rush is the author of ALTERED coming Fall 2012 from Little, Brown. Check out her blog for news and updates.


  1. Hi! Wow, your day sounds pretty insane. You quit your job but if you're looking after your daughter then actually you've taken on another one -- it's really hard to get anything done when you've got kids around pulling everything out of the kitchen drawers, finding the glue and sticking stuff to the couch, filling up the sink with toilet roll and then seeing what happens if they keep the taps running!!
    Who looked after her before? If it's your husband and he's looking after her at home, then I understand why you want the cottage!! I HAVE to have a quiet place to write. Used to write best at night, until I trained myself to write to a schedule and now I LOVE writing in the morning/ day.

  2. That same cottage is causing some controversy in the UK right not. I think a little cottage in the garden is a great idea. Even just as some place where there isn't any technology apart from lights and you can relax. Just beware that your Princess might take it as her castle :-)

  3. I was really glad to read this post. I too am trying to figure out a writing schedule now that I'm not in school, and yeah, I can be bad at organizing un-structured time!! I just moved, and so while I had a sort of writing groove before, I'm still floundering a bit trying to figure out what works now. Being a writer is officially A Very Weird Job :)

  4. Claire --- My husband has been a stay-at-home dad for a few years, so this is their normal. I'm having a hard time getting used to it! I just can't concentrate, like you said, when there are people living their lives in the same room as me. GO SOMEWHERE ELSE PEOPLE! :)

    Petra --- What is the controversy? I think I definitely need a small, warm space that isn't cluttered with everyday life. But you might be right, my daughter would turn probably claim it as her own!

    Heather --- It is a very weird job! Any other job, I show up and just do it. With writing, it can't be too quiet, it can't be too loud, the house needs to be picked up, it can't be too warm, or too cold...etc. :D I hope we can both find a good routine and soon.

  5. Tez---He does. :( It seems like he's been going to school for the last gazillion years, but he's supposed to graduate after this semester!