Day Three: Sick Days

33 words.

That was all I got done yesterday; nowhere near my goal of 500. Pretty discouraging for a start, but I’m trying to give myself a little leeway. I’ve been sick for weeks, and though I felt better over the weekend, I did a serious crash and burn last night, curling up on the couch and almost falling asleep before dinner even though I basically never nap. I tried to make myself work anyway, but the Ny-Quil got the better of me before I could get very far, so 33 words is all I managed to write.

Like many who take this path, I daydream about reaching a point where I can consider writing a full-time job and earn enough doing it to feel like it’s a real job, too. But the problem is, unlike a decent full-time job I could get elsewhere, writing doesn’t come with paid sick days.

One of the great appeals of self-employment is setting your own schedule. Unfortunately, this also usually means your schedule is set with many more hours than what you’d be working at a typical job. I have friends doing it full-time and it’s not uncommon for them to work 10-14 hours a day. Every day, including weekends. I have friends doing it as a side gig to their day jobs, and they usually log 8-9 hours at the day job and then come home to spend 5-6 hours working on their writing.

Writing is work. Writing is hard work, and until you treat it like a job, you’re really just a hobbyist. People get mad when other writers say that, but to be a writer, you must write. And for writing books to be your full-time job, you have to treat it like it is.

This is a place I personally struggle. I’m a parent first and foremost, the primary caregiver to my daughter, who is quite a busybody. I have other interests and hobbies, plenty of responsibilities, and dozens of other things that call for my attention. Right now, a couple hours a day is really all I can manage–which is why I’m really just a part-time writer at this point in my life.

Like most part-time jobs, calling out because I’m sick means forfeiting compensation and struggling to catch up later. It’s just that at this point in time, the only compensation I get is words on paper, rather than monetary gain. Unlike a real part-time job, I can call out as often as I need to without fearing my job will be lost. I can pick it up again any time I want. But each day I step away from it is another loss, so I can’t keep putting it aside. I’ll be trying to make up for lost time over the next few days, but I might stick to daytime cold medicine for the rest of this cold–or this project, whichever lasts longer. Right now, it’s seeming like the cold.

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