So, here’s a tension: You signed up to get updates about how my writing was going. I promised you that I would talk about writing process stuff, among other things. On the other hand, sometimes describing external constraints on a writing process sounds a lot like complaining.
One reason I’m taking the risk that this will sound kind of complain-y is that some of you are writers who have a Patreon of your own, or who might consider launching a Patreon of your own in the future. So decisions about how to handle Patreon that are also decisions about writing process might be the kind of thing you signed on to read.
Before I launched, I Googled around about how to Patreon, what its joys and pitfalls were. I’m so appreciative of the people who wrote and vlogged about the necessity of reassessing tiers and offerings, and changing them from time to time. Apparently it’s pretty normal to change things up a couple of times a year, maybe more, especially in the first year.
I saw some elements that weren’t working the way I initially predicted they would. After thinking about them, poking at them, and trying some very small different things, I’m going to try a bigger different thing. Here’s what that is and why:
One thing I’ve learned is that two posts per week does not currently fit with my life. I had imagined my weekly updates (basic tier) and weekly archival finds (middle tier) would be quick to write about. Little warm-ups before getting into the novel manuscript, I told myself.
But that’s not how it’s played out so far. It turns out that a Patreon post displaces a whole day’s writing attention, for me, this year.
I would love for that to change, but I no longer feel right about betting your money that this is the month it will.
It takes until about 10am for my attention to recover completely from having launched the kids to school, and then they come home at 3pm. There’s more time than that in the day, but there’s rarely more focus. I’ve decided to acknowledge this as an immovable constraint of this phase in my life.
There’s lots of time for writing-adjacent tasks, which are often necessary to support actual storytelling. Sometimes I get in, or need to get in, five hours or so of writing-adjacent labor. There’s research — the imaginary garden only feels real if it has real toads in it, and toad research is time-consuming.
And there’s business. There’s still a little thread of my life that’s about trying to catch a literary agent, and some weeks that turns into many hours of correspondence with the two agents I’m courting who are also courting me…if I can finish this novel. I had a couple of opportunities to sort of audition to write audio drama and television. These two opportunities did not result in fame and checks falling out of the sky, this time, but now I have connections I didn’t have before. I’d have been a fool to turn down those opportunities. Trying my hand at screenwriting made me a better storyteller. But it didn’t get this book closer to done.
I had thought that I could write the Patreon posts during frequently disrupted blocks of time, time when my family was underfoot. I had thought these posts would be a writing-adjacent task. It was worth trying.
Even when I manage to make the posts shorter… You know that Mark Twain witticism, apologizing for writing such a long letter because he didn’t have time to write a shorter one? Yeah, writing posts of shorter length does not mean using less writing time. At least not for me.
So two posts a week leaves me with only three really focused days a week for the manuscript, four hours each, maximum. And that’s not enough focused time to keep my momentum going. I end up using the first of those three days just trying to get back into the groove I was in on Friday before my children exploded into the weekend.
I had considered trying to fine-tune my way out of this, but, in another mixed blessing, my writing coach business is starting to take off. Hooray for the day job? It’s great to be able to pay the bills! Inflation will probably not sink us! I’m blessed and lucky. Helping teenagers become more skilled, confident writers and navigate the college admission system is fun for me, and I’m good at it. Also, it’s about to get even harder to protect the novel’s time.
If you don’t protect time in which to get a thing done, it will not get done.
So I’m going to try merging the $5/month tier back down into the smaller tier, and I’m going to integrate the archival finds into the range of things I might talk about in any Patrons-only post.
I’m going to contact each of my $5/week patrons tomorrow, and then officially turn off that tier. I think what happens next is that my $5 people will be unsubscribed entirely and will have to decide whether to resubscribe at the higher or lower level.
It’s possible that someday I will try adding a middle tier or tiers again. If you have ideas about what you would like to see on offer in that scenario, this would be a great place to tell me.
Thank you all for traveling with me this far.