It's Sunday. It's November. We've had snow flurries which I love. I am not one of those November-haters. I love November. Because:
1) It's hunting season.
2) It's quiet.
3) It's not too early for Christmas music.
4) It is too early to stress about Christmas shopping.
I woke at 6:00 am. Wrote/edited/swore at my latest manuscript. Then popped downstairs for televised church, then back upstairs for a teeny bit of writing. Just enough to keep me from sticking my head in a gas oven when I open the file again.
I joke about the gas oven. As if I could afford a gas oven.
Which brings me to The Frugal Author. I've been following an online discussion about how to weather the lean times in writing---a subject I consider myself an expert in as I've only known lean times. If you are considering chucking your job to write full-time, read on.
The Frugal Author: Tips to Living the Dream.
1) If you are currently spending money, stop. Break the habit of spending money while you still earn it. This will lessen the trauma to your central nervous system when you have no money to spend.
2) If you can save, save. If you can't save---see above.
3) Brace yourself to work hard. You will write every day, all day. Plan to write genre fiction even if you are working on The Great Canadian Novel. It will comfort you when no one buys your lit-fic and possibly pay some bills.
4) No. 3 does not apply if you are a New York City journalist, a plastic surgeon, or in the entertainment industry.
5) Don't worry about eating, it's overrated. But if you must, then learn to cook, shop local and (it goes without saying) don't shell out money for junk food (incl. booze). (I know, I know, this one hurt me too.)
6) Do not go into debt for your books. Ever. You will be tempted. Resist. Hundreds of thousands of authors will back me up on this. Do not get so deep into debt that you can't write. This is the best advice I didn't take when I was starting out. I didn't take it and I still owe money for Living the Dream.
7) Self-publishing, you say? The temptation (and pressure) to spend is even higher. Do not spend more on your books than you can realistically expect to earn from them. And then ratchet those expectations down by about fifty percent. I'm not being negative. I'm being positive. You will positively have a tough slog to sell 100 copies of your book. Pace your expenses accordingly. Your market will grow ... but baby steps.
8) Agents reject you. Publishers don't respond. Your savings have dwindled and your life is shit. You never see your kids/husband/wife/mother/friends and your body is falling apart. Was it worth it? If your answer is no, then please do not quit the day job. Not a living soul will fault you for it. And if they do, send them to me and I'll set them straight.
9) The last frugal tip I have is for your ego. You'll have to adjust to working without reward. And don't kid yourself that the joy of writing will be enough. It's a hell of a joy but it's rarely enough to replace the validation, income, and society of the workplace. Think hard. There will be no reviews of your work. No feedback. You will have to accept silence for a very long time and write anyway.
10) You took the red pill. You're all in and today is the first day of Living the Dream. You've got such a tiny economic footprint that you barely register on the grid of household expenses. You're eating rice and beans but on the upside, you've lost 10 pounds. The price of gas is something you never think about because you never drive anywhere. You write every single day. Even Sunday. And you are happy. Frugal living is a walk in the park. So the last tip is, this is the money shot. This day. This moment. Work hard. Give it your all. Enjoy every minute and give thanks.
I'll race you to the bestseller lists.