By Sarah Price
Sometimes I wonder what people actually think that I do all day long. In the minds of some people, I travel the world, meeting new people and taking copious notes in a tattered mole skin. Others probably think I sip tea while sitting by the pool at our horse ranch in Alachua County, Florida or spend the day riding through the Goethe State Park on my mustang, Malibu. In most cases, people probably think that I write at leisure after relaxing or enjoying the simple pleasures in life.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Becoming a full-time author has taught me how to master a skill that, in my previous life as a working professional, I thought I had down pat: juggling.
When I began writing full-time, I quickly realized that I had become less productive than when I was working 60 hours a week and taking care of my home, children, husband, and numerous animals. Breast cancer entered the picture and I lost my job. Suddenly, my dream of writing novels day-in and day-out was a reality. Only I learned that, like those many people who imagine my life, I, too, was living in a fantasy world.
Writing full-time is not easy. To begin with, there are a million distractions on any given day: a sunny afternoon, a lunch invitation, a Netflix binge, even a messy closet begging to be reorganized. And then there are a million interruptions--especially in my life. My daughter is home-schooled and trains wild mustangs. She might find a squished snake in her barn or a gangsta mob of rats infesting her grain...all of which require my immediate attention. My husband often interrupts me with a need for help doing a chore such as fixing a horse paddock or ride to pick up a truck being repaired. When I am in the groove, it's near impossible to turn it on and off when someone does interrupt me.
And, of course, I have the constant interruptions from Coco Chanel, my Umbrella Cockatoo, who loves to eat any and everything from window blinds to moulding to my pens and highlighters. My fantasy of having her sit upon my shoulder while I write my novels doesn't usually come to fruition.
The bottom line is that it's near impossible to write full time and think that, just because you have eliminated a full-time job, you will be more productive. But there are things you can do to improve the odds. First, I try to remove myself from the house as frequently as possible. Whether I head to the library, a restaurant, or a coffee house, it's a good idea to get away. That eliminates me from the very environment that distracts me.
Second, I have learned that if I try to follow a regular writing schedule, other people will learn to leave me alone. Unfortunately, this requires a lot of self-control and cooperation. But I will turn off my cell phone after alerting my family. There's nothing so important that it cannot wait a few hours. If it is, I know someone will find me.
Finally, being organized is a must. Frankly, I'm not very organized so I have a right-hand person who helps me be more organized. She will check up on my progress, remind me of upcoming deadlines, and helps to manage me as I try to manage myself. It helps to acknowledge your own weaknesses and search for creative ways to tackle them.
And, of course, it does help to learn how to juggle. It's a skill that will help you, whether or not you are writing full-time.
Sarah Price is the author of the Plain Fame series and the Amish of Ephrata series, among other books. She comes from a long line of devout Mennonites, and her writing reflects accurate and authentic stories based upon her own experiences with several Amish communities. Ms. Price has advanced degrees in Communication (MA), Marketing (MBA), and Educational Leadership (A.B.D.) and was a former college professor. She now writes full-time and talks about her books and her faith on a daily live stream with readers. Visit her at sarahpriceauthor.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest