Naima's Published Titles

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Taking a Year Off to Write

I took a year's leave from my job to write full time, starting January 3. Since then, I've worked on revising The Bad Death to prepare it for beta readers. My goals for the year are:
  • Publish The Bad Death
  • Launch The Bad Death, following a marketing plan that includes guest blogging, giveaways, and social media contests
  • Submit House of the Apparently Dead to beta readers
Supporting goals include shaping my blog according to advice from successful bloggers (and reader input), as well as increasing the reach of my social network. I would really love to publish the 2nd volume of Night at the Demontorium, but that may be more than I can chew.

The "why, how, and what's-it-like" of taking a creative sabbatical?

Why. I became frustrated with time constraints preventing me from writing more often and writing more volume. In addition to working full time I was writing an hour or two several nights a week and a marathon session on Saturdays, marketing my writing, learning how to market better, working out, keeping house, and doing the occasional community or social event. You know, life. I find it hard always changing focus. I began to feel that the quality of what I wrote suffered from a lack of continuity. I wanted one focus. I wanted to wake up every morning and work on the story. Doing that for a year will help prevent regrets when I'm old and gray(er).

How. I cashed a portion of a retirement plan. This is where Suze Orman takes a moment to bitch slap me into next week. I know, I know. But in addition to having a bigger retirement plan that I left untouched, I had factors in my favor to begin with:
  • Debt-free
  • No dependents
  • Low mortgage
  • Good health
Some measures I took to reduce my risk:
  • Researched and consulted an accountant
  • Saved up an emergency fund
  • Saved a separate fund for taxes/penalties on early withdrawal
  • Created a budget at the reduced monthly "salary" and tested its feasibility
  • Added a Critical Illness policy to my insurance, to the fullest payout in case disaster strikes
  • Took a year's leave of absence from work; I didn't quit!
What's-it-Like? From a practical standpoint, I treat it like a day job. I wake with the alarm and get ready for work Monday - Friday. The only steps I leave out are dressing in office clothes and leaving home. I'm at my computer no later than 9. I quit 8 hours later. I get up frequently but I find little breaks refresh me. I don't leave home, though! After work, I usually go to the gym. Then I come home and do some book-related social networking and marketing. On the weekends, I run errands but mostly I lie on the couch and read. Books, both fiction and nonfiction, are brain food. The budget is holding up, though I will tell you with 9 more days in the month that it's getting a little tight. What's it feel like? Wonderful! Throughout school, the ongoing refrain of my teachers was, "Pay attention! Stop daydreaming!" Sometimes it just blows my mind that for the next year, daydreaming is my job.

 Am I crazy? I 'll letcha know later how things turn out. For now, reference above statement about regrets in old age. One regret is dying broke under a bridge. I believe with self-discipline and sacrifice I can rebound and prevent it. Dying creatively unfulfilled? I could go to Hell for that.

Have you ever thought of doing something like this? I'd love to hear from you in a comment!


  1. Naima! Good luck! It's hard to work from home because you look around and see things you could be doing. However, if you lock yourself in a room that has no dishes, laundry, or other household necessities nagging you for attention, you can do it.
    You CAN do it!
    The budget is another harsh part of full-time writing. The last week of the month comes and you just want some chocolate but know you cannot spend that extra $1.50 because something important might come up, like a need for toilet paper.
    I'll be here, working from home, with you, if you need encouragement on heavy procrastination days. Much like how you encourage me!

  2. Thanks, AL! Oh, and that is a harsh choice to make - chocolate or toilet paper!