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Dianne Salerni : Writer of Teen and Middle Grade Fiction | So How Do You Like …

So How Do You Like …


KLAC Baltimore Book Festival 2014

Me, Ellen Jensen Abbott, Alissa Grosso, Alison Ashley Formento, and Tim Young – Baltimore Book Festival 2014

… being a full time author?

I get this question a lot these days.  I think non-writers picture me clicky-clacking away at dozens of new books, sitting at a desk all day with coffee by my side. Fellow writers probably know better!  (One day last week I figured out I was writing at a rate of 155.4 words per hour. Yes, I stopped writing to do the math. Then I Tweeted about it. This may have been part of the problem.)

The hardest thing for me to get used to has been the unstructured days – especially coming from 25 years of teaching when my days were scheduled down to the minute and I had to plan my bathroom breaks. I’m getting better at managing my time now, setting two or three goals per day which may include new words in the WIP, blog posts and blog visits, creating marketing materials, exercise, or preparing for upcoming events. I’ve also learned that it’s okay to take a day off here and there.

Baltimore BF at night

Festival booths lit up at night — Baltimore Book Festival 2014

I’ve been able to take on new responsibilities too: moderating a FB group and setting up an online critique group through my local SCBWI chapter. I’ve been able to book myself for more events than I could possibly have handled if I was teaching. You can see by my schedule on the sidebar that I’ve got a lot going on this fall, and that list doesn’t even include private events like school visits.

Caged Graves tshirt

When the dead don’t stay where you put them …

I was able to attend all three days of the Baltimore Book Festival at the end of September, sharing a booth with KidLit Author Club members Tim Young, Alissa Grosso, Ellen Jensen Abbott, and Alison Ashley Formento. Those were three LONG, HOT days. (Never crossed my mind to pack shorts for the end of September …) But the venue was beautiful. A ton of people stopped to read the Caged Graves t-shirt or look at the photos on my poster board. I also learned that wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt was a great conversation starter. I plan to repeat that smart move at the Collingswood Festival this weekend!

Doctor Who tshirt for festival

My villain t-shirt from the Doctor Who Museum at Cardiff, Wales was a great conversation starter.

All in all, I’m learning how to be more productive with my unstructured days. I’m happy to be out of the stressful environment that was sapping my health, and my calendar is filling up with the kinds of author events I always watched enviously from the sidelines (ie: my FB and Twitter feed in spare moments at my teacher’s desk).

I’m happy.

19 Responses to So How Do You Like …

  1. I can’t imagine being a full time author. (Good thing it’s not my goal.) I’d end up playing video games all day.

  2. mshatch says:

    I’m glad you’re happy and not all stressed out over the stupidity of your school 🙂

  3. Tiana Smith says:

    I’m glad you’re happy 🙂 And that you’re able to do it now!

  4. Glad you’re happy with your decision. And it is an adjustment to going from super busy to having time you need to structure to stay productive.

  5. Hilary says:

    Hi Dianne .. that’s great that you’re adapting, trying new events and things .. and generally settling in – it’ll all fall into place. Sounds like fun right now – enjoy these times .. cheers Hilary

  6. Donna McDine says:

    Glad you are learning what works best for you! Looking forward to seeing you at the Collingswood Book Festival on Saturday, October 11th!


  7. J E Oneil says:

    It sounds like full-time writing has a lot of non-writing stuff to do :). The Caged Graves shirts look awesome!

  8. Sounds very cool, and I’m jealous that you get to do the writer thing full-time. 😛 But I know a bit of what you mean about the unstructured days. I took a writing vacation earlier this year to start a new book, and had to set myself a schedule of when I’d write and stick to it, to make sure I made the most of my time. I’ve heard that a lot of full-time authors do the same, writing at the same time every day, like any other job. It seems to work. ^_^

  9. ChemistKen says:

    The Doctor Who shirt would definitely have started a conversation with my daughter! Glad you’re getting used to unstructured days. It would take me a while to get used to it too. I need to have a day planned out or I don’t get anything done.

  10. Susanne Drazic says:

    It sounds like you are making things work for you. I need to get more structure to my days as I don’t get as much done as I’d like with unstructured days. I think just rearranging a few things in my day will make a big difference.

  11. Steven Symes says:

    Way to start embracing the unstructured life! It took some getting used to for me, but I wasn’t working in an office for nearly as long as you were teaching. Sometimes, you just need to take a break and do something fun or relaxing, and you can do that. I’ve actually found that such breaks make me even more productive.

  12. Jennifer Shirk says:

    Good for you! I’m having a hard time balancing now that I actually have more time to write. I need more focus.

  13. Julie Dao says:

    I’m happy that you’re happy! Thanks for sharing your realistic experience. I think if I ever am lucky enough to write full-time one day, I’ll need days or weeks off… nobody can write all the time! If writing is your full-time job, you deserve some vacation time too!

  14. Focus and self-imposed schedules are the hardest parts, aren’t they? I’m still working on getting myself organized. “Good luck,” I tell myself.

  15. Sounds to me like you’re living the dream, kiddo. Very cool about being at the book fair in good ol’ Baltimore. But what’s coolest of all is you’re happy. That’s what counts. I’m really happy for you.

  16. I work in the evenings, so days are free for writing. It’s been like this for five years now, and I’m still not completely organised. I tend to write in an all-or-nothing way, so I have to learn to be satisfied with that and not beat myself up when the actually writing doesn’t happen. It’s cool you’re able to attend events that might have been impossible with a day job though!

  17. Robin says:

    I love the things you are learning (like the bit about the Doctor Who shirt). I also have difficulties with Time Management. I think you are doing better with yours than I am mine… 🙁

    I am still struggling with the next overall arc of the next book in the Gigi series. Two nights ago I dreamt about a fantastic idea for a YA trilogy. I wanted to dream about a fantastic idea for the Gigi series. You get what you get, though…

  18. It sounds like you are adapting well to your new life. I’m so glad you are able to do this. Congratulations, again, on your retirement.

  19. Kirsten says:

    Congrats on making the transition to full time author! I’m happy for you and with you, (and maybe a teensy bit jealous.)
    How great to see that dreams can come true!