By Ramona Richards
Whether writing is your fulltime occupation, or whether you have day job and struggle to find time to lock down those images and characters tormenting your brain, you already know that being productive is a matter of discipline, planning, and flexibility. All three come into play in order to turn ideas into prose. No matter your path, this writing business isn’t easy.
So when I decided to move from a day job into freelancing, it was a long time coming and months in the planning. While I’ve made a few impulsive decisions in my life, this was not one of them. On October 20, 2015, I resigned my position as Senior Acquisitions Editor at Abingdon Press, with my last day scheduled for December 11th.
It was the longest notice I’ve ever given, but again-part of my planning. The shortest was two days (also from Abingdon!), but that was under special circumstances. It’s been a terrific time, these past eight weeks, as I’ve been able to clear my inbox, finish my work on most of the projects, transfer incoming material to other capable hands.
And the timing was right. There are only three fiction projects still to arrive, and I haven’t really settled into in-depth relationships with the non-fiction authors. They know who I am, but the established authors mostly worked with other editors, and I was still talking to the agents on the new ones.
So why am I leaving? First and foremost…so I can write. Editing has always paid the bills, and I’ll still do a lot of that on a freelance basis. But I’m a writer at heart, and anyone who has this calling on their lives knows that’s it’s essential for maintaining your sanity. I can’t NOT write, and the past few months have sapped a lot of my creativity.
Yes, there are other reasons, but that’s the big one. And because writing doesn’t always payoff immediately, I planned, saved, and networked. I have money in the bank and editing jobs lined up. I have a daily schedule set up, a day planner full of due dates, and a whiteboard full of projects. I have conferences I want to attend, so there are travel budgets as well as a budget for the regular bills. And I have three major writing projects underway.
But all that planning is fluid. If nothing comes along to disturb it, I’ll follow the plan. But the writing life is nothing if not filled with changes and opportunities. I had a ghostwriting opportunity earlier in the year that I had to pass on; now I can be more open to that. I’m preparing to market a book I have coming out in March from Worthy Publishing, and I know that opportunities may spring up there, for articles, guest blogs, interviews. I want to stay flexible as well as focused.
There Is No “One Size Fits All”
Not everyone is in a position to be a fulltime freelancer, and I may be scrambling for another day job in a few months. And that’s OK. That’s part of staying flexible. Everyone’s journey is different; God calls us in different ways, and He intends for us to follow His will, but plan for earthly realities. He calls a builder to build, but it’s the builder’s choice to put his construction on rock or shifting sands (Matthew 7:24-27).
For now, this is my dream, and I plan to pursue it with everything I have.
Ramona Richards is a freelance editor, conference speaker, and mentor. She’s the author of seven novels and three books of devotions. She launched her career in Christian publishing 34 years ago (as a mere child!), and has worked with more than a dozen major publishers, including Abingdon Press, Thomas Nelson, and Ideals magazine.