Are you writing fiction? When I coach writers, I’m often asked about combining a typical “write for hire” freelance career with writing novels and short stories.
Since most writers have steady clients, and fiction takes time to write, you need to find ways to both look after your writing clients, and write your stories, without going crazy.
Fiction takes a different mindset from nonfiction, because your aim is to create an experience for the reader. However, most fiction includes an informative element as well. You’re introducing your reader to a culture or time period with which he may be unfamiliar for example.
Since fiction requires a different mindset, I like to work on my novels first each day, as soon as I get to my desk, before I do anything else; even before I read my email. I don’t always succeed in ignoring email, sadly. If I can’t work on my fiction before my writing day starts, I work on it at the end of my day.
I’ve talked about this with many writers, and most need to carve out “fiction time” from the rest of their writing time. So, that’s my first tip. Decide when you’ll work on your fiction.
Here are some additional tips:
* Each novel (or short story) has its own demands. If you’ve worked from an outline writing novel #1, that may not work for #2. So, be flexible;
* Be prepared to write cr*p in your first draft. Just get the bold strokes of the story and characters down. Add details later. You can also remove details later. For example, I tend to have too many characters in my first drafts. If this happens to you, you can weed them out in your second draft;
* Decide on your ending, as soon as you can. I always feel better when I have an ending. If you’re feeling angsty, choosing an ending may help you to feel more confident. You can always change it later;
* If you’ve been writing nonfiction, the fiction mindset will take time to feel comfortable. Press on. Build a fiction habit;
* Don’t rewrite until you’ve completed the first draft. Setting up a novel — the first quarter of the book — is a challenge because you’re tossing so many balls into the air. You’re also dealing with backstory. You’ll make changes in the setup later, so don’t sweat it. Just make notes. Don’t rewrite until you’ve completed the novel.
Combining your freelance writing career with writing fiction is not only possible, it’s huge fun as well. Once you start thinking like a fiction writer, it becomes easy.