Writing is all about finding the time to write.
March 27, 2015
IN 2014, I MOVED MY FAMILY from our long-term home near Sydney, Australia, to the Languedoc region in the south of France. There were many reasons behind the move, but one of them was to have more time to read and write.
It wasn’t as though writing had been impossible in Sydney. I had managed to punch out at least one full-length manuscript a year around working full-time and being a wife and mother. However, I always felt as though the time spent writing was stolen time. Against a backdrop of practicing law, commuting to the city and meeting the crippling financial demands that ruled our lives, writing wasn’t, and couldn’t be, a priority. Even so, I wrote.
Then I had a breakthrough at the end of 2013 with my YA novel, Anais Butt and the Hairy-Handed Gent. The sales and profile of this book paved the way for further deals and opportunities, which gave me the confidence to pursue the dream of moving to rural France. It meant breaking the cardinal rule ‘don’t give up your day job’, but I knew that if I didn’t grab the opportunity, in all likelihood it would never arise again.
Most writers fit their writing around the demands of everyday life. Some people can knock out their one or two thousand words daily, no matter what else is happening in their lives. I used to be like that. I wrote The Sound of Crazy Mountains over four months between the hours of eight and ten pm, forcing at least a thousand words out of myself every day no matter what.
The problem is that you can’t become a prolific writer unless you read a lot, write a lot and sell a lot, and even two hours out of a busy day is not enough to achieve those ends. It might be enough to get a draft out and polish it, but it isn’t enough to do all the other things you need to do. Like get the right agent interested in your work. Like get the right publisher interested in your work. Like participate in the marketing of your book once it’s published. Like stir up interest in foreign rights. Like promote the film and television rights to your book. Like read the work of people whose writing is better than yours. In the modern publishing landscape, your work will probably give up and die if you don’t do all these things. Even one that’s been published by one of the ‘big six’. Trust me, I’ve been there.
Obviously you don’t have to move to France to free up time for writing. You could move closer to work, or hire a babysitter, or tell your husband that he’s looking after the kids on Sundays. The move to France has worked for me because I no longer have a day job (don’t need one) or a long commute. I do much more for my husband and out four children than I used to, but I still have six glorious hours in the middle of the day to read, write and promote my work.
Yes, I have gotten a bit fat. Sitting at a writing desk all day, not feeling stressed-out and eating duck and pastry will do that to a girl. But I have never been so productive in my life, or so happy. In the three months since we moved here I have written two full-length speculative manuscripts, one short manuscript under contract, and one really great book proposal. Productivity is no guarantee of success in publishing, but by golly does it increase your chances.
Time is what it takes to become a successful writer, so give yourself a chance by clearing some. It’s worked for me.
Kate Welshman is a bestselling author and mother of four. Her books for adults, young adults and children have sold all over the world. She’s represented by Jacinta di Mase Management (Australia – books), The Gersh Agency (US – books), Rupert Heath Literary Agency (UK – books) and Little Studio Films (worldwide – screenplays). She lives in France with her family.
Please click the book cover images to read more about Kate Welshman’s novels.