I’m very grateful that so many diverse writers have agreed to answer my questions. Today, I’m interviewing playwright and writer Sandra de Helen. She has written two novels (The Hounding and The Illustrious Client), several short stories, poems, plays, an opera, a musical, and a radio drama.
Wow, that’s impressive!
Like my last guest, Lori L. Lake, Sandra lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.
Here’s how she described her creative career.
How long have you been writing full-time?
About ten years.
What was the process of moving into full-time writing for you?
I have kept a regular writing schedule for twenty-five years. When I first went to full time I found it more difficult to keep that schedule. Once my hours were my own, I resisted a daily schedule. Eventually I settled down and found the right pace for me, which is daily.
Do you write every day? Do you give yourself weekends or days off or vacation time away from writing?
I do write every day now. No days off. Or hardly any. Once in a great while I travel somewhere I can’t get the internet, and I find it hard to either open my computer with no ‘net, or write by hand, so I go ahead and take a few days off.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Make my tea, open the computer, answer email and FB, then write. Stop for a late breakfast, then go back to work. I write until I’m tired, or until dinner time. I try to stop my writing at a point where it will be easy to pick back up.
Do you have a daily word-count goal or a set number of hours you spend writing?
No. I did that last year for NaNoWriMo, but I doubt I’ll do it again. I “won” by writing 51,000 words, but I had to put so much on hold during the month that it took me almost the whole year to get back to that book. I prefer to write some, market some, edit some, network some every day.
Where do you write?
Usually in my Eames Lounge chair in my living room. Rarely (at the end of the book, eg), I’ll take my computer to a coffeehouse and keep writing while I’m waiting for someone. Mostly, I write at home.
How did family and friends react to you giving up your day job to become a full-time writer?
Everyone in my life is supportive and encouraging. Those who aren’t are not in my life. Ha!
How much time do you spend promoting your books, including blogging, social media, etc.?
A bit every day.
What’s the best thing about being a full-time writer?
Being my own boss. I’ve always been self-motivated and driven. I could have worked from home when my job was dish-washing, that’s how self-motivated I am.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a full-time writer?
I can’t see a downside.
Is there anything you wish you would have known before becoming a full-time writer?
That I would eventually find my groove, and not to stress about it.
What advice would you give a fellow author who wants to write full time?
Don’t write full time until you have income to support you. You don’t need the stress. Instead, carve out your writing time, keep it sacred, and fill your life with people who support you.
Can you tell us a bit about your latest novel?
The one that is in the publishing process right now is THE ILLUSTRIOUS CLIENT. It’s the second book in the Shirley Combs/Dr. Mary Watson series. They work with an international client, visit a luxurious yacht, grow their relationship a bit, and Mary falls in love.
What books can we look forward to from you in the future?
The one I’m actually writing at the moment is TILL DARKNESS COMES, which is a dark thriller and the first in a new series.
Thank you for patiently answering my questions, Sandra. It’s great to get some advice from someone who’s been writing professionally for so long.
Please check back on Wednesday, November 13—a very special day for my next guest, Laurie Salzler, author of A Kiss Before Dawn and Right Out of Nowhere.