1. ryanc119
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    ryanc119 New Member

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    Writing and Working

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by ryanc119, Mar 22, 2010.

    I'm curious to see what kind of feedback or advice you could give me on the following topic:

    As of right now, I am wrapping up my second semester of sophomore year at college. I am pursuing a business degree, but exploring the option of integrating an english degree into my curriculum. Here's my dilemma: I want to write a novel when I get out of college, but I'm afraid of the first few years after I get done with school. I want to get a graduate degree so I can make good money, but my true goal in life is to be an author. Now, it's simply not economically wise to get done with school and just devote all of my time to writing my novel and pray it gets published, all the while having no job to earn some money.

    I guess what I want to know is, how realistic is it to expect to write and create a novel, all while either attending a graduate school or working a full-time job? Is it something that is going to kill me, or is it seriously doable? If it's just out of the question, then I'm seriously considering focusing my studies to a pure english degree and getting a job that gives me time to actually write towards my goal.

    What are your thoughts?

    (my apologies if this is in the wrong forum)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It sounds like a lot. However, if you can get into the habit of writing a little bit toward your novel every day, even with that workload, you can be in an excellent position to keep that discipline between terms and when you graduate.

    Few people can simply decide to write a novel and do it. There is a learning curve, as in any creative endeavor. But if you treat it as part of your studies, you may find the discipline of school will reinforce the habits you need to succeed as a writer.
     
  3. ryanc119
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    ryanc119 New Member

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    Well, the thing is, it's not like I just woke up this week and decided that I'd want to be an author; it's been my dream since I was ten, and I have lots of ideas for a specific novel that I really think I could make work.

    But you are right, there is a learning curve, but I'm not sure how to approach it. I'm taking a creative writing class now, but I feel like that won't simply be enough. It's been my plan to get a job and just work on my novel piece by piece (like you mentioned) for quite some time, because I just don't see it happening any other way. It's why I'm looking for advice now, while I'm still in control of my future, and before I really have to nail myself down to a certain degree!

    Is there anything you can recommend me do to improve my creative writing abilities? Other than writing everyday, of course. :)
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You won't learn without writing a lot, then finding what you did wrong and fixing it.

    The other activity that will help is a lot of active reading. By active reading, I mean paying attention not only to the story itself, but how the author succeeded or failed to deliver parts of the story throughout. Was part of the scene confusing or ambiguous? Did the author bore you with lengthy and unnecessary descriptions? Did the author lose you in too many dialogue fragmenst without a tag to remind you who is saying what? Were there sentences that seemed to wander all over with no clear purpose?
     
  5. BBWalter
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    BBWalter Member

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    Ryan,

    Cogito has great advice here. A little advice from someone who does night class, theater, tutoring and has two day jobs?

    1) Decide how much time each day you can realistically carve from your schedule. If 30 minutes is it, then start there.
    2) Set a time limit for each day and a specific time of day you plan on doing this. (Some people are larks - morning people - and others are owls - night people. Determine which you are, then set your schedule.)
    3) Set an alarm! This step is crucial. If you simply say, "I'm going to write every day for 30 minutes from 3 pm to 3:30 pm something will interfere. It always does; life is that way.
    4) Be disciplined. When the alarm goes off for school/work, you don't shut it off and refuse to get up, do you? (Ok, maybe you hit snooze a couple of times, but you do get up to go.) When your alarm goes off for writing time - you write.
    5) Realize you need time off. There are reasons businesses don't work their people 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. They burn out; so will you if you don't pace yourself. (My first schedule was 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week. I did this for 3 months before realizing my schedule could afford me an extra day a week and 30 more minutes.)
    6) Communicate your schedule with friends and family. Non-writers don't get it; they never will. My family and friends used to try to convince me to do anything but writing. "Oh, you can skip it just this once, can't you?" If you tell them in advance, they are less likely to be upset by the "inconvenience" to their schedules or the suddenness of the change. I told mine that between X-time and X-time, I was "working" and couldn't be interrupted barring flood, fire or alien invasion. :D
    7) Your schedule is not the Ten Commandments. It's not written in stone, and it can be altered. However, this should be the exception, not the norm. Not being set in stone means, if you run over your 30 minutes, don't fret. The muse was particularly kind to you that day; keep writing. But do not allow yourself to stop before 30 minutes is up. Just because you're bored in class doesn't mean the professor shortens the class time any for you.

    Hope this wasn't too preachy. :) Anyway, this was how I carved time out of a busy schedule to accommodate my love of writing (and the desire to one day! finish a project). It may not work perfectly for you, but it's a start. I know I felt lost until I sat down and really thought about how to make my busy schedule fit one more thing into it.

    (P.S. Definitely do the active reading. But this is NOT part of your writing schedule. You'll have to find time for this elsewhere. :D)

    B
     
  6. ryanc119
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    ryanc119 New Member

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    Wow, that was very specific and actually gave me a good idea of how to do it and how disciplined I will have to be. Of course if I am dedicated to making it happen, then I should be able to handle it.

    It's just reassuring to hear that other people do this and that what I'm trying to accomplish isn't beyond any means necessary.

    Thanks for all the advice so far - if anyone has anything else to add, by all means, post it here! :D
     
  7. FrankB
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    FrankB Member

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    I suspect 90%+ of all first books were written part-time while the writer was not pursuing his/her day job/school/parenting. Unfortunately, there are even a lot of multiply-published, mid-list writers who can't afford to give up their day jobs, or at least must augment their incomes in other ways.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    true... writers who can live comfortably, to extremely well only on their published works are a very small percentage of the total who're trying to get there...
     

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