Category Archives: The Big Leap

June 2017 Updates, Goals

It’s been over 3 years since I left the rat-race behind and became a full-time writer! The time keeps flying past. I’m a much happier person overall, and I’ve never once entertained the idea of going back to the grind.

Income breakdown (just for fun, $$$ is never the goal):
– I’m still making about $300-$400/month writing and editing at The Daily WTF. (Feedspot recently ranked us #29 of their top 100 humor blogs, which is pretty neat!)
– My royalty income has been a bit higher with 2 books out. Books in a series help sell each other. Still, we’re talking maybe a few hundred a year across all venues, with the vast majority of that coming from Amazon. When I’m done with Book 3, I intend to get more aggressive about selling and promotion (although I think Sword and Starship has at least 4 books in it).

Updates:
– Still outlining Book 3, also getting into some high-level drafting of how I want scenes to play out. What has been abstract up to this point is getting a bit more concrete.
– The Sword and Starship books are now available through Playster! Here’s Blood’s Force, there’s Harbingers. It seems like an interesting platform, so check it out when you have a chance.
– Construction continues along my street. So far it’s taken double as long as we were told it would take. LOL So it goes! I’ve mostly gotten used to the noise since there’s been construction in my vicinity for years now. My next-door neighbor has a toddler who has grown up with this as his normal. She tells us that one of his first words was “dirt.”

Current Goals:
– Keeping up with these monthly blog updates, and maybe some advising/ranting if the mood strikes.
– Possibly updating the look of ellismorning.com and this blog, if I conclude it’s worth the trouble. Now that I have some exposure to Bootstrap, I’m tempted to go that route.
– Learning how to roll Rs. With a month of daily practice, I’m closer than I ever have been, but inconsistent. I have an easier time with Rs in the middle of a word (ex. cigarro) than at the front (ex. rápido). Another month of filling my house with annoying noises can only help!
– Learning Latin. I’ve kinda surprised myself with how motivated I am to do this. Unlike drawing, I don’t have to schedule a time and then force myself to actually abide by that commitment. I was expecting to work on Latin once a week, and it became a daily thing all by itself. There’s something to be said for pursuing what you really want, eh? My brain wants this, and it’s actually a lot of fun to translate dirty poems and old graffiti from Pompeii and realize that humanity has not changed for thousands of years.

Later Goals:
– Learn Italian (at least enough to get around town with)
– Plan/schedule trip to Rome in 2018
– Ramp up selling/promotion

Hope to check back in with you again next month! :)

The Grand Experiment: What I’ve Learned From 2 Years of Self-Employment

amesjump

Two years? Really? Wow, that flew.

Thanks to hedonic adaptation, everything becomes mundane after a while, even kicking the 9-5 rat race routine to the curb. But this is still the best mundane ever. No regrets. I haven’t spent a weekend in fear of Monday morning for two whole years now! I love what I do, even when I get temporarily sick of certain tasks (editing, barf).

What’s New

My husband and I recently celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, which is also a “Whoa, already?” sort of experience. We’re quite pleased with how far we’ve progressed in a decade. Transitioning to self-employment has been a welcome part of that progress.

When there haven’t been holidays, birthdays, and weddings to attend, I’ve had my head down working on Book 2 of the Sword and Starship series, entitled Harbingers. I’m very close to handing the manuscript to my editor for her final read, and very excited over that fact!

While she does her review, I’ll work on outlining Book 3. Unlike Harbingers, which was a mostly mature draft when it broke off to be its own thing, Book 3 will have to be built up from nothing. I hope to leverage all I’ve learned about novel writing to get from start to finish in a reasonable amount of time.

Also, a local book club is going to read my book later this year, and wants me to attend their discussion meeting! This’ll be the first time I speak about Blood’s Force in a public forum, which makes me a little nervous, but it’s exciting, too. Since I have Harbingers on the brain, I hope I don’t give away any spoilers by accident!

What Hasn’t Changed

Setting realistic deadlines, accepting setbacks, and treating myself with compassion. I had a bad bout with the flu a few months ago, and had to accept the fact that I was no good for anything for a solid 2+ weeks. Several projects got derailed. I feared I’d never get my brain back, but sure enough, it returned. And I’m still right around where I hoped I’d be regarding my progress on Harbingers.

Still, every now and then, I run into a novel situation where the old nagging voice inside my head takes over. “You should’ve done better, you idiot!” All I can do is recognize when it happens, and remind myself to be at least as kind and understanding with myself as I would be toward someone else in the same position.

Income Breakdown

Again, just for the hell of it. Money was never the goal of this transition.

  • The Daily WTF. I still make about $300-400/month as an editor.
  • Royalties. Hey, I got a published book now! Let’s watch the money roll in …! Or not? ;) I’ve earned a little over $250 total from all sources since Blood’s Force came out in September last year. Sales were higher when the book came out, and when I did things like giveaways and the blog tour. Now, about 1 ebook a month is where things stand. I expect it to jump again when Harbingers comes out, and I’m back to active promotion.

Hope you’ve been doing well in all your endeavors! And I hope to blog more often as interesting stuff happens! :)


2015 Goal Review, And New Goals For 2016

resolutions

Let’s pretend it’s not February already, you guys. Let’s pretend this is completely timely and topical. Last year, I posted a list of my goals for 2015. Let’s see how well I actually did!

* The novel, duh.

“The novel,” Blood’s Force, did indeed become a thing by the end of the year. Hooray!! :D It’s available in 2 formats and 4 platforms. In the process of getting it ready for prime-time, I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses in writing. I also learned a lot about ebook and paperback creation, which will help me on the next go-round.

* A promotional, free-to-read short story that takes place before the events of Blood’s Force.

This is not on my plate anymore! I’ve learned, after several tries, that there’s just no way I can do the Sword and Starship universe justice within a short story. The ideas I had all quickly ballooned to novella length, 20K to 40K words as opposed to the 10K or under I’d been hoping for. At that length and degree of effort, I’d be taking serious time away from novel-writing, and it’d be harder to justify giving the end result away for free. So, no prequel—at least not right now—because I’d rather get the next novel done as soon as possible!

* At least 1 more short story for Retiring The Gods, hopefully 2.

I’ve got 2 drafted that I’m hoping to release in another month or so. If you don’t have a copy of this series yet, go get one! It’s free! :)

* Start outlining and drafting the next Sword and Starship book. In the process, pick up skills and tricks to make eventual ebook conversion easier.

This was before I knew I’d be splitting my original manuscript into two parts. So I’m already editing and revising the second book, called Harbingers. I intend for there to be a third book, but that’s well off my radar at this point (though I do have some ideas of how to structure it).

As for making ebook conversion easier, I’m experimenting with some tricks. If they do indeed help streamline the HTML conversion process, there’ll be a blog post on that later.

* Keep writing monthly articles and screening submissions for The Daily WTF.

Yep, kept up with this as well, and earned a promotion to Editor, so I’m also supervising some of the other writers. My income went up a little bit in the process, which I can’t complain about!

* Keep up with weekly blogging.

Admittedly, I’ve been worse about this. When I got close to publishing Blood’s Force, it fell by the wayside, and I’ve found all kinds of reasons to keep putting it off since. Part of it is that I’m not sure what I want to blog about. I’ve done about all the writing advice I’ve got in me. I think in the future, I’ll focus more on what’s on my plate or on my mind, and also give the occasional update on where I stand as a self-employed person.

* Continue improving my blog and website as much as I can.

This remains a continuous process. Why, just this past week, I spent several hours fighting to fix CSS changes that WordPress pushed on me without notice or consent. If you happened to witness my blog turn black and green for a little while? Yeah. Thanks, WordPress! Gotta keep those mad skillz fresh somehow, I suppose! :D

* Keep up with other interests- which is hard when I’m trying to cram so much writing in.

YES. Yes it is. I still struggle with this, and with knowing whether I even really want to do all that other stuff anymore. Part of me does, but whenever I have time, I too often think Eh … I should really clean up around here, or something like that.

* Think about travel. If not going somewhere, at least plan something for 2016.

My husband and I went to breathtaking London in December! :D

OK, so not bad overall! I’m really happy with what I managed to accomplish in 2015, and I’m hoping 2016 will prove similarly productive. Without further ado, here are my Goals for 2016:

* Finish and publish Harbingers.

This is THE BIG ONE. I’m not sure whether I’ll actually get it done this year, but it’s what I’m putting my full-time energy toward.

* Release 2 new Retiring The Gods stories, draft 1 or 2 more.

I’m planning for the release to take place in a month or two here. I’ll send out the update through my mailing list, so if you’re not already on-board, click here to sign up!

* Keep writing features and editing at The Daily WTF.

There may be additional WTF projects in the pipeline this year, and I may be helping out with them. We’ll see!

* Find new kitties. Maybe.

I can’t believe it’s been 6 months since my cats passed away. Even now, sometimes the pain is just as sharp as the week it happened. There are still, still, parts of my house I haven’t cleaned because they were the last places my boy Rochester camped out. If you know how much of a neat-freak I am, you know how insane this is.

I’m having a hard time moving on, but at the same time, I miss having floofs to cuddle. I’m slowly opening to the idea of another pair of cats, once we’re done taking care of a few things around the house that go much better without cats. Replacing all our carpet, for instance.

* Find a real-life girlfriend.

This is a task my therapist has given me. I’ve never had super-close female friends as an adult, and have trouble even fathoming such a thing, but I’m playing along for now. Hilariously, the search has all the ups and downs of dating … which makes me think that giving less of a damn will aid me over the long run. Seriously, I never had luck finding men who were interested in dating me until I said “Screw it, I’m done looking and I don’t care anymore.”

* Figure out what The Deal is with the hobbies I’m having trouble following.

Is it time for us to part ways? Or am I just not being disciplined enough?

* Blog regularly enough for what it is I want to be blogging about.

Again, think I’ve built up my treasure trove of writing advice pretty well. Hopefully it’s helpful to someone. I hope to move forward with more stuff about me, my work/progress, and my books.

That’s all for now. Best of luck with all your 2016 goals! :D


I’ve Gone From Escapes To Breaks, And That’s OK With Me (Plus Paperback Giveaway!)

HamptonCourtPalaceHampton Court Palace, a fascinating destination for history buffs.

In early 2013, my husband and I planned our first trip to Europe together. I’d skipped around The Continent before, but my husband hadn’t, so we aimed for a place that was new to both of us, where we wouldn’t have much trouble easing in culturally. London seemed like the best of all possible worlds. I’d only ever flown through London, never visited. And since the UK was full of English speakers, we wouldn’t have any trouble making our way.

I booked our travel and lodging about 6 months ahead of the trip. For the rest of those 6 months, the anticipation all but killed me. I read up on English culture and etiquette. I studied all the things we could see and do, and how to do them best. I spent hours daydreaming about the trip from my drab little cubicle at work, and as it got down to the wire, I was going out of my mind with excitement. I even started tracking the weather in every city we’d fly through, just to make sure everything would go well.

So we flew to London for a week, and had an insanely magical time there. I left feeling like we were parting ways too soon, that there was still so much left to see and explore. We both agreed it’d be great to go back one day. A couple years later, in 2015, we arranged for that return trip. It was my reward for completing Blood’s Force.

This time around, for some reason, I didn’t spend as much time in the run-up planning and daydreaming. Instead, the trip kept sneaking up on me. “Oh yeah, we’re going overseas in a few weeks!” I didn’t obsess over what we’d see and do; it was something we could figure out once we were there. I didn’t check the weather in Newark (the city where we caught our international flight) once.

We got back from London a week ago. It was a fun time, to be sure … but the thrill was gone. I even felt that way while in London, and felt guilty about it. Why isn’t this mind-blowingly fun?

There are some quick, obvious answers. This was no longer our first time there. Also, London on Saturday in December is like Black Friday everywhere, and if there’s one thing I don’t tolerate well for long, it’s gigantic crowds.

But there’s actually something more profound to it. At the time of our first trip, my husband and I were working full-time jobs we didn’t care for. London wasn’t just vacation, it was an escape. It was an eye-opening, holy-shit, look-at-how-much-better-life-can-be experience that was subconsciously telling us, You’re leading the wrong lives right now.

Sure enough, we took that trip in September 2013 … and within 2 or 3 months, we were plotting our escape to self-employment. May 2014 is when we actually left our jobs to go off on our own. So maybe our first London trip was the kick in the ass we sorely needed.

The self-employment arrangement has been much better for us in every way possible. Chores and other obligations aside, we spend each day doing what we want to be doing. There’s no longer the unnecessary stress of commutes, difficult coworkers, nonsensical corporate culture, and the like. Not once have either of us ever thought, Man, I miss the old office.

We’re leading the right lives now. There’s no longer that burning need for escape. So when we go on vacation, it’s no longer earth-shattering. It’s just a nice break away from the usual routine. And I’m OK with that.

Hey!! What about the Paperback Giveaway? Oh yeah, I don’t wanna forget that. I’m running another Blood’s Force paperback giveaway via Goodreads. Want a chance to win your very own physical copy? Use the fancy widget below to enter! :)

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Blood's Force by Ellis Morning

Blood’s Force

by Ellis Morning

Giveaway ends December 19, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


What’s On The Calendar – Late 2015 to 2016

february-calendarHey all! I wanted to talk about the important stuff on my workdesk and radar for the next few months. Without further ado …

* Working on Harbingers (Sword and Starship Book 2) *
Hey look, it’s my life for the foreseeable future! To make this a standalone, I’ve had to completely change the beginning, so I’ve been drafting more than editing thus far. I’m almost at the point where I get back to editing existing content. I’m hoping I don’t succumb too much to the feeling of “Oh FSM this all sucks I have to tear it up and start over.” :)

* Working on Retiring the Gods short stories *
After the whirlwind of publishing Blood’s Force, I took a month’s break to clear my head. In that time, I worked on 2 more short stories for this collection. They need a little more polish before I’m ready to call them done; I’ll probably release them in another few months. Something to tide everyone over while I’m toiling on the next novel!

By the way, this is a short story collection that’s exclusive to my mailing list. If you want a copy, feel free to sign up! I’ll send you the current version, then the new one whenever it’s updated.

* London trip *
My husband and I are going to London the first week of December! Yaaay! This’ll be our first vacation since escaping the corporate world, and is kind of a celebration of publishing Blood’s Force. It’s our second trip to London, because we loved it so much the first time.

Hilariously, I keep forgetting about it, only to panic a little when I see how much closer it’s getting. I swear, I might actually forget to go to the airport the day of. This is totally opposite from the last trip. Back then, I made plans 6-8 months in advance, and daydreamed and obsessed over the trip practically every day.

I think the difference is that I was still working my corporate job last time we went. Back then, the trip was a welcome and much-needed escape. Now I spend every day doing the work I want to be doing. There’s nothing I’m desperate to get away from.

* Future Goodreads giveaway(s) *
Not 100% sure yet when, but I’ve got December 12-19 penciled in. Stay tuned!

* January blog tour *
I’m also arranging for a 2-week blog tour in January. Every weekday, there’ll be a different post about Blood’s Force at a different blog. It should be a good way to get more word out about the book. More details to follow once they’re solidified!

Take care and have a great Thanksgiving! I’ll be back in December! :)


The Grand Experiment: What I’ve Learned From 1.5 Years Of Writing Full-Time

amesjumpWould you believe I still haven’t tired of this arrangement? The balances in my bank accounts aren’t as high as they once were, but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as I thought it might. Mental health is way more important. Not once have I ever pined for the corporate world. As long as I have the means to keep freelancing, I will!

What’s New

The past couple of months have brought some of the most extreme highs and lows yet. Our biggest low came in August, when our cats Persephone and Rochester passed away within a week of each other. We knew Sephie was in decline, and we were prepared for that. She died peacefully at home. Rochester’s passing, however, was a total blindside. After Sephie died, he stopped being himself. The vet found a slew of incurable problems, including cancer. Putting him down was arguably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Both cats are greatly missed.

About a month later, I actually finished Blood’s Force and put it up for sale. I was so hyper-focused on this effort toward the end that I forgot little things like taking my car in for inspection. (Oops!) It was also my first time publishing anything to vendors like Amazon and Nook. The process was nerve-racking at times, especially when Amazon initially rejected my book for having the insidious, horribly misleading keyword “Morning” attached to it (i.e., Amazon rejected me for my last name OMG what do I do?! Thankfully, they approved it the second time I tried publishing it). But now that I know what to expect, I think it’ll be easier from now on.

I was really excited to be done with my book after six years of effort, plus I had no idea how long it would take to put together a paperback, so I “went live” with just the ebook version at first. This wasn’t a horrible approach, but as I found out, putting the paperback together through CreateSpace really wasn’t that bad, even with doing the interior and cover layout myself. It was about two weeks from start to approving the physical proof. In the future, I’ll wait to “go live” when both paperback and ebook are listed on Amazon.

Now comes the transition from pure writing to writing + promotion, and I’m still very much an anxious noob with the latter. I’m trying to educate myself and ease in without worrying about selling a million copies right out of the gate. Money wasn’t my goal anyway. The goal was to finish a book that at least one other person enjoyed.

So far, I seem to sell the most by word of mouth and by placing books in people’s hands myself, one copy at a time. I also gave away copies to people who signed up for my mailing list. Of all the copies that are out in the wild now, I’d say a third were given out. I’m hoping to impress people and get them hooked on the series. :)

What Hasn’t Changed

Scheduling with self-compassion remains a big thing for me. I like having a set time for writing each day, and also having an idea of what I want to accomplish every day and week. But if other things get in the way, I let that happen and adjust accordingly. No big deal. I don’t set hard release dates for books or stories, and I don’t do pre-releases either. Some people can work well with that, but for me, it creates unnecessary pressure and stress.

I’m still learning how to manage my anxiety, mostly through mindfulness meditation. It seems like promotional situations are my largest trigger right now. I’m just not a “Hey, look at me and buy my things!” person. I’ll be delegating as much of that as I can. Where I saved money on Blood’s Force by doing a lot of things myself (ebook and paperback creation, web design/maintenance, mailing list management), I’ll be laying out money so someone else can worry about promotion for me. It’s always good to allocate your funds to best advantage.

Income Breakdown

I’m still editing at The Daily WTF. My income there has increased to about $300-$400 a month.

In another month or so, I’ll also start receiving royalty payments from some of the stores where my book is on sale (I have to exceed a $10 minimum in royalties first, which has only happened at 2 stores thus far). My book is no runaway bestseller, so I don’t expect royalties to add much. Still, I can cover a few bills every month as-is, which isn’t bad!

Just FYI, this income breakdown is here more for illustrative and tracking purposes than to brag or measure myself against. Money is never the goal of this enterprise, but I think it’s helpful to provide an idea of what the finances look like for a full-time writer who’s just slipped her foot into the publishing world.

Again, I’m very grateful to my past corporate self, who socked away most of every paycheck over many years and helped make this possible. My husband also makes this possible with his financial and emotional support. :)


The Grand Experiment: 1 Year Since The Big Leap

amesjump

I can’t believe it’s been a year since turning away from the corporate world! I have zero regrets. Defining my own schedule from day to day feels like the new normal, and I’m committed to keeping this going.

However, it’s fair to say that I brought a lot of unresolved baggage back with me from Corporate America, and the public school system before that. Aside from putting the finishing touches on my novel(s), I’ve been working to identify and address those issues, which has helped me become a happier, less anxious person.

Looking back on my old “what I’ve learned” notes, here are some things I can add to past recommendations and observances:

Defining a new routine is still important.
Like most self-employed, I fell into the trap of feeling like I could, or should, be on the clock all the time. After all, I was now working on my passion, right? It didn’t feel like work (mostly), and I had the time- why not be working?

This is the quick path to burnout and resentment. Instead, figure out when your work hours are. What’s your ideal time of day for working, and how long can you keep at it before your brain gives out? For me, it’s 8AM – 12PM, with occasional breaks in between to stretch and let my mind wander. Yeah, I realize that’s not a “full” 8-hour day. Screw that. During those four hours, I tend to have my nose to the grindstone, and get more done than I would’ve in a full day at my former office.

Once I get to 12PM, I’m done with work that day. If I choose to work beyond that, it’s overtime. Usually, though, I don’t. I spend the rest of my day on chores, reading, and play- i.e. stuff I do just for the fun of it. Play time is just as important as work time, and shouldn’t be ignored!

Likewise, it’s good to give yourself weekends- one or two days a week when you do no work at all, allowing your brain to recharge. And when you finish a big project, a longer break is warranted.

Checking in on goals and todos is still important.
Not just to ensure you stay on track. In truth, the plan always needs amending. I’ve learned I’m horrible at estimating how long it will take me to do something. I also find priorities shifting and disappearing constantly, as Life throws curveballs.

I’ve also found it’s easier (and more satisfying) to stick to one thing, and see it through, rather than trying to take baby steps on 1000 things at once.

Giving yourself little rewards and/or visible signs of progress is also important for feeling like you’re getting somewhere. This could be something as simple as a checklist or burndown chart you post on your wall, and update as tasks get done. In Scrivener, my favored word processing tool, I’ve taken to marking all of my incomplete scenes with a red flag icon. When I finish the scene, I get to remove the flag.

Being your own dream boss and cheerleader is SUPER important.
Over the past year, I learned I’m not my own dream boss- at least, I wasn’t. I tended to be overly demanding and self-critical, angry at myself when I couldn’t stick to my own arbitrary timetables. My inner voice, quite frankly, was a nagging slave-driver.

I’ve worked on revising that- developing an inner voice who’s laid-back, encouraging, and doesn’t get pissed off when things don’t go as planned. Let me tell you, this boss is a lot easier to work for, and has eased my anxiety considerably.

The Money Front
Still not a millionaire ;) But my income has gone up since my promotion to Editor at The Daily WTF. I now make roughly $260/month. Enough to cover a couple of bills, not enough for self-sufficiency. I’m still relying heavily on my husband’s income, and the savings that Past Me socked away during her corporate career.

The good news is that financially, we’re on about the same ground that we were last year, just prior to leaving our jobs. We’ve bought another year off- and we’re more than happy to take it!


2014 Year-End Summary, 2015 Goals

resolutionsBefore closing out another year, it’s good to take stock of what got done, and what the year ahead will look like. Then next year, we can giggle at how off-base all my hopes and predictions were :)

The biggest accomplishment this year was saying so-long to my full-time job, and taking up writing as my new full-time (and then some) pursuit. I mostly already talked about stuff I did in 2014 here, at the six-month anniversary of said leap.

Here’s what I’ve got queued up for 2015:

* The novel, duh. As I work on implementing my editor’s suggestions, the manuscript for Blood’s Force has gone from 88K to 131K- since October. Holy crap! And I’m only 2/3 of the way done with the new rewrite. Once this is edited and sanity-checked, I’m publishing! Hopefully earlier in the year rather than later. Ebook first, then I’ll figure out print-on-demand.

* A promotional, free-to-read short story that takes place before the events of Blood’s Force. I had a vague idea in mind, but my editor’s suggestions will help cement something even better into place. This will become my primary task once Blood’s Force is done and published.

* At least one more short story for Retiring The Gods, hopefully two.

* Start outlining and drafting the next Sword and Starship book. In the process, pick up skills and tricks to make eventual ebook conversion easier. (I’m already shuddering over how long it will take to clean up the Blood’s Force manuscript and convert it to pristine HTML. When I first started writing it, I never imagined that HTML might be its final destination.)

* Keep writing monthly articles and screening submissions for The Daily WTF. I may be assuming even more responsibility soon: more articles, and mentoring other writers. Also, more income!

* Keep up with weekly blogging.

* Continue improving my blog and website as much as I can.

* Keep up with other interests- which is hard when I’m trying to cram so much writing in. Drawing, piano, language study, swordfighting, pleasure reading…

* Think about travel. If not going somewhere, at least plan something for 2016. I have the itch, and I’m leaning toward something international: Canada, or Europe. Heck, maybe both! I also have the goal of traveling as frugally as possible.

In another 6 months, I’ll update again on progress and goals. Happy New Year and best of luck to all of you on your endeavors!


You Still Need Breaks, Even When You’re Funemployed

sleeping_fox(Image credit: Photos Public Domain)

I’m an introvert who no longer works a traditional full-time job– so when my spouse goes out of town, I happily bunker in with my laptop and grind away. I added about 5-6K words to my manuscript in rewrites, drafted an article, drafted blog posts- waking up early each morning and falling asleep late each night. Friday, I picked my spouse up from the airport. With delays and weather, we didn’t get home until after midnight.

After a full week administering training, my spouse needed Saturday to recover. Grudgingly, so did I. I woke up intending to keep up the week’s grueling pace- except I majorly slept in. Coffee didn’t clear the brain-fog. My spouse sat down to play a fun new video game, and poof went the last of my work ethic.

And you know what? It’s OK.

I often assume that, because my primary work these days is something I enjoy doing, I can put nose to grindstone 7 days a week. A nice thought, but my decidedly-not-a-robot body just doesn’t allow it. After a 5-6 day push, I need a day, sometimes two, to recharge. Afterward, I have an easier time waking up in the morning and buckling down on work.

But strangely, it’s hard not to feel guilty about these break days. My work isn’t anything one would consider strenuous, after all. What am I recovering from?

The answer is creative work- which can be very draining. Besides that, I already know my brain needs more leeway than most. Still, it’s hard for me to designate a break day and not sneak in work somewhere on the side, thus ruining the whole point. I’ll just sort a little mail, write some holiday cards… oh geez, I never actually rested, did I? No wonder I’m still dragging!

When guilt conspires to separate me from my break time, I try to mitigate it by planning out what I’ll work on each day for the coming week. That helps reassure me that things will still get done, even if I spend a few hours loafing in the present. It’s important to be realistic, though, and not assign yourself more than what you can really do in one day.

You also have to admit you’re human, and allow yourself a future break at some point.

Do you have a hard time sitting still on off-days? How do you cope? Let me know in the comments!


The Grand Experiment: 6 Months Since The Big Leap

amesjump(Image credit: imagebase.net)

November 2014 is a big month for me. My spouse and I have been together for 10 years- and it’s now 6 months since I jumped ship to write full time!

I can’t believe how fast it’s gone. Am I glad I did it? 100%! Do I feel any yearn to go back to my old full-time schedule? Not at the moment. Though I do miss certain coworkers of mine, I’ve enjoyed a lot less anxiety since leaving, particularly since I no longer dread waking up in the morning.

I still do plenty of work, but it’s on my own projects, on my own terms. It’s not going as fast as I’d like, perhaps. Then again, if I had my druthers, I’d have ten bestsellers out by now, and would be typing this from a cozy London flat.

Anyway, here’s a little breakdown on what I’ve accomplished, fell short of, and what my financial status is like. I’m hoping it might help anyone else contemplating their own jump out of the workforce.

Accomplishments

* I’ve set up a daily work routine that I’ve stuck to: waking up around the same time of day, writing until lunch, then usually writing a few more hours in the evening. I use the afternoon for exercise, chores, hobbies, and naps.

* A promotion to Assistant Editor at The Daily WTF. I now write a monthly feature, plus help with sorting and choosing submissions.

* Got through two big editing passes with my novel, and am currently on what I HOPE will be the last major rewrite. This sucker will expand the manuscript by as much as 50%! I think the book will end up being better this way than if I just rushed it out as-is. I also think I’ll be able to finish future books faster, as I’m learning a lot about the sort of thinking and planning I should’ve been more thorough about five years ago.

* Put together a more polished freebie for my mailing list subscribers. Retiring the Gods is a short story collection I’ll be adding to over time as inspiration strikes. Where can I send your copy? :)

* Kept up with weekly blog posts here- mostly about writing tricks, but sometimes straying into more general territory.

* Spruced up my website. Navigation is mostly the same, but everything is now in much niftier colors, and HTML5. Ooh!

* Got back into drawing. Using my discipline tricks, I started by forcing myself to work on a picture for half an hour at a time, gradually expanding to an hour. I’m reconnecting with that “flow” I once had that let me sit with a picture for hours at a stretch. My progress is slow as I relearn how to do things, but I’m having fun with it.

* Returned to martial arts after a long hiatus- something that had been completely off my radar! I’ve taken up German longsword with a local HEMA branch. It’s a lot of fun. A little more expensive than I’d prefer, given my reduced income, but hey, I was stashing away the bulk of every paycheck for years before this. Past-Self says to Present-Self, “Go out and have fun, you crazy kid. Just don’t get your bell rung.”  :)

Also, the swordfighting experience will undoubtedly come in handy as I write about knights spanning the galaxy in spaceships.

Income

$140/month from TDWTF. That’s all right now, but I’ll take it.

To leave the rat race one day, you must save your pennies first! Obviously, I couldn’t live on this if I were alone and without significant savings. If you’re looking for ways to stretch your current income further, Mr. Money Mustache comes highly recommended.

Stuff I Still Want To Do

* Finish the novel, and start on the next one! LOL I’m hoping early next year.

* Find a way to stick with my floundering language study. I think the main problem is not having anything to study for– no people to talk to, no upcoming trips, etc. Also, I still can’t roll my double-Rs in Spanish!

Current languages (in order of strength): German, Spanish, Farsi, Japanese

Future languages: Dutch should be really easy to pick up, since I have German and English. However, I don’t have any use for it currently. Quick, someone send me to The Netherlands for an extended vacation!

* Learn to wake up earlier. 8:00 AM isn’t bad, but 7:30 or 7:00 might be better. I don’t know if it’s happening, given how late I like to stay up!

That’s all for now. Here’s to another fun 6 months! If you have any advice or encouragement, drop me a line in the comments :)