How to Become a Published Author: Time with your Butt in a Chair

So how did I become a published author? I think the first answer I'd offer is, "mathematically".

Here's how I do it nowadays.

I am a full time high school teacher. This means I am up really early and am perpetually over-worked by the demands I face at school. But still, as we all know, so, so many teachers have 2nd jobs to make ends meet. I am no different. My school salary is not nearly enough to meet the financial demands of modern day life -- especially in Southern California -- so I, too, have a 2nd career.

That of an author. And to be an author, I have to write. Time (thus) becomes a professional tool which I must value and utilize well.

Here's how it breaks down for me during the school year. (Note: this is a rough sketch, actual numbers vary, of course.)

Monday through Thursday I make sure to put in at least 2.5 hours per night writing. Usually, my 3 year old daughter is in bed by 7:30-7:45 so between the school day ending for me a bout 3:45 p.m. and me allowing some time to get home, have dinner with my little "boo", read her books, kiss my wife, exercise if I can squeeze it in and so on, I am usually "in the chair" by about 8:30. And I'll go til 11. (Though I've been known to go to almost 1 on school nights which is nuts when you are up at 5:30 every morning but that's another story.)

All told, this makes for a minimum of 10 hours per week. (Friday nights are optional for seat time. Sometimes I work, sometimes I go out on "date night", sometimes I'll rent a movie... but yeah, I'm a bit of an addict so probably twice a month I'll do some stuff.)

Saturdays are 6 hours of writing time for me. Gotta do it. I need long stretches of uninterrupted time and the way I look at it, who doesn't work 6 days a week. (Paper grading is the beast for me -- managing it, that is. I bust my butt to get it done in the M-F planning period window though but, of course, some Sunday afternoons are spent with student compositions in hand.)

However, Sundays are also family day. I mean no writing at all. No computer, no email, no blogging. I will read some newspapers online if the moment allows but family day is family day. For example, this Sunday we're all going to a pumpkin patch to prep for Halloween. Life is nothing without it.

Add it all up and I do an average of 16 hours per week which equals 64 hours per month... and if you multiply that by a 9 1/2 month school year that's 608 hours of writing time per school year.

But I get holidays, Spring Break and X-Mas, and summer, too. Let's call it another 7 weeks of "working summer-time conditions" for me of about 35 hour per week writing week. (I work harder but it's vacation so let's pretend I chill out more than I actually do.)

That's 245 more hours of writing. Add it all up and we are at 853 hours per year.

Now let's imagine I am only good for 1/2 a page per hour of writing time. (Trust me, I am way more productive than that but I also put in a lot of "think time" for my books -- despite what my critics may say... LOL! -- which doesn't translate into actual page production yet counts as "writing time". So 1/2 a page per hour seems fair.)

Do all this math and you are talking about 426.5 pages of actual production each year from me. Multiply that by a decade at this pace and you, too will be in print... almost assuredly.

All in all, becoming a published writer is like eating an elephant. There's only one way to do it: bite by bite.

If you want to be a writer, you have got to find the time. Writers, as I have said before, write.

Views: 33

Comment by Alan Sitomer on October 22, 2009 at 7:54am
I hate debt... such the enemy. You can't have money if you have debt.


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