As of this Tuesday coming up, I will have been unemployed for a full three weeks. This situation has obvious disadvantages, namely a lack of income. The benefit, however, is that I have all the time I want to write.
Some of that time I've used badly. I spent the first off-week playing Destroy All Humans! 2 on my Playstation. Since then I've managed to discipline myself a bit more, and I've done some good work on my various projects. I quickly edited a final draft of Epoch for Llewellyn, and completed the first draft for my next book, The Right Hand Of Evil. However, I still find I waste far too much time when my days are completely free. When I have a job, I have structure, and I work my writing time in around the job. Usually, I'll get to the job site at least a half-hour early, grab a cup of tea and write. Then I'll use my lunch break to write some more.
On my last job, I found myself getting so depressed that I couldn't get more than a few sentences onto the page. In that instance, so getting canned was a real blessing. Now my writing output has gone back to the level it was at when I had a good job, but I know I could do better. I have all this time, but I'm really starting to understand something about my writing habits and abilities now - I write in spurts, but not long stretches. I can happily write for half an hour, or an hour if I'm really into it, but any longer and my writing hand gets tired and I feel the nagging need to move on to something else.
I delude myself that I could write a book in a month if I really wanted to. I tell myself that, if I got a work-for-hire contract, I'd be motivated to do what it takes to meet the deadline. Now I'm not so sure. I was really disappointed when I learned I would not be the one to write the official novelization for the upcoming Transformers movie, but could I really have pulled it off? No. Not at my current output level. I'm simply not ready.
Now, though, I know what my limitations are. And I know what I have to work on to get better. This time off has been an eye-opener for me, and I intend to learn every lesson from it that I can.
And when the Transformers sequel goes into production, I'll be ready.
- Timothy Carter