Popular return guest Rachael Herron has left her day job! This week I catch up with Rachael to learn how she has successfully transitioned to full-time writing and the creative ways she’s diversified her income since going full-time.
Since Rachael first appeared on RSP in Episode #74, she has achieved her goal of becoming a full-time writer. Before she left her job as a 911 dispatcher, she was already earning income as both a traditionally-published and indie-published author with her award-winning literary novels and her popular Darling Bay and Cypress Hollow series. Since leaving her day job and going full-time, Rachael has diversified her income through teaching gigs at Stanford and UC Berkeley, writing magazine articles, essays for anthologies and for her Patreon community, and even does some print book interior design here and there. She also runs a podcast called How Do You Write?
Rachael enjoys exploring the creative process, so she set up a Patreon page to help her fund essays on the creative life. She decided she’d write 12 essays and release them approximately every 4-6 weeks, eventually putting them all together in a book at the end, but she knew she needed to make at least $500 an essay to make it work. Leveraging her established email list, she hit her goal of $500 an essay the very first day she set out, and is now making $1,188 each time she releases an essay! This allows her to spend the amount of time necessary to produce a polished, considered piece, for an active, engaged, and supportive audience.
Rachael’s Writing Process
Rachael used to write early in the morning, first thing out of bed, but since she’s gone full-time, her process has evolved into a morning that starts out with yoga and coffee. She begins her work day glancing over what she’s written the day before, then jots notes down in longhand everything she wants to write that day, targeting 3,000 words a day, 15,000 words a week. This planning is the magic for her, she says.
After she plans what she’ll be writing that day, Rachael then turns her attention online, doing a little social media, answering a few emails, making a list of the things she needs to get done that day.
Following that, it’s breakfast, and then usually off to a coffee shop where she tackles her 3,000 words — the item at the very top of her to-do list for the day — usually finishing up around noon. The rest of the day she uses for “everything else.”
How Do You Write? Podcast
In addition to writing and teaching, Rachael is also a podcaster. She has an intense interest in the creative process, and so she’s created a podcast that asks the question, “How do you write?” to guest authors.
I’m always tweaking, I’m always looking for the next better idea on how to do something. Should I wake up 15 minutes earlier? Should I drink green tea? Do I need a new pen? I want all of those details.
To this end, Rachael asks her guests, who include Cat Rambo and Chris Baty, where they write, when they write, the worst advice on writing they’ve ever received, what secret writing tip of awesomeness they discovered the hard way, and a quick craft tip.
Advice to New Authors
Firstly, as you start to make money with your writing, be sure to buy yourself something fun that is frivolous and makes you happy to look at. (Rachael likes to treat herself to a new pair of Fluevogs. :))
Secondly, consider putting all your book money towards paying off any debt you may have so that when you’re ready to make that jump into full-time writing, you can!
- Try something new. Whether it’s Patreon or a podcast or learning how to format your own ebooks, give it a go. While Rachael has an ongoing podcast, she also has one that didn’t go too far also. Don’t be afraid to fail. You never know what might catch on.
- Go watch a great television show, hang out with some friends this weekend, or just stare out the window for an hour. Don’t underestimate the value of downtime. It’s necessary and vital to refilling your creative energy.
- Plan your writing. Take a few moments each day to decide what exactly you will write that day. Jot down notes on your scenes, any dialogue or character detail, and set a word count goal. Rachael’s daily goal is 3,000 words, but planning it out helps her reach her goal by noon each day.
How do you write? What’s your favorite ritual, beverage, writing tool, or productivity hack that you use in your own writing process?
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