Today I'm sharing an adventure with Starship Captain and writer, Alicia de los Reyes. Alicia is a writer and teacher in Seattle, where she lives with her husband and her cat. Alicia likes to write fiction and nonfiction, especially fun writing guides. 

You can read some things she has written here. She also likes running and hiking, eating cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies, and reading Gothic novels.

People have this fantasy of what it's like to be a writer. But what's a normal day for you really like?

I'm not a full-time writer yet, but I try to live and work like one. So, most mornings, I get up at 6:30 and write from 7-9. Then, I do some marketing/blogging/guest posting/pitching/querying/submitting for another hour. Three hours of work doesn't sound like much, but I'm usually pretty wiped by then. I go for a run, take a break, and get ready for my other job, tutoring. 

There are so many ways to make a living as a writer – how are you doing it? What have you combined and how has that changed through the years?

Alicia's bookI do it by tutoring and teaching SAT prep classes in the afternoon and evening — so, right now, by not writing, though sometimes I get to tutor kids who want to write, which is fun. My writing income comes from my ebooks: a guide to writing chick lit now called DIY Chick Lit (formerly The Chick Lit Cookbook) and a guide to taking yourself on a writing retreat, called, creatively, DIY Writing Retreat — coming soon. I also submit my work to lots of journals, and sometimes it gets published, which is very exciting. Eventually, I hope to get a book deal for my narrative nonfiction book about hanging out with evangelical Christians for a year, and for my novel about a missing woman's family.

A year ago, I was a teaching assistant at the University of New Hampshire, where I was earning my MFA in writing. That was probably the ideal writing lifestyle for most: write for 10-20 hours each week, teach for 20 hours each week. But grad school doesn't last forever, alas. Before that, I wrote infrequently in my free time while I worked full-time at various places.

The biggest change is that now I have a cat supervisor (her name is Mitzi).

I don't think I've found the perfect way to write and work at the same time, but tutoring lets me have a lot of free time and a break from writing that I think is necessary for me.

What new thing are you exploring now?

I'm always working on lots of projects. I'm exploring how my “platform,” a word that I can't stand and don't really understand, can help me get published and find readers. An agent I pitched a book to told me thought the project was great, but that I didn't have a platform. That stung! So I'm trying to increase my web presence in a way that feels good to me, basically by blogging. I was inspired by {fellow Starship Captain} D.N. Frost for how professional everything looks on her website & social media accounts.


What's your definition of success in your business?

My definition of success is related to several things. One is productivity: am I writing? Am I generating pages? I think this one is the most important to me — I sometimes think, if I end up with a drawer of beautiful writing, that will be enough. The writing is the most important part.

Another is financial: I have a number of sales I want to reach and a monthly income I want to make. I would love to write full-time and spend my free time making crafts and hanging out with my friends. Right now, my free time is pretty limited. Not a lot of crafts.

I also measure it in readers, using markers like getting published, tracking visits to my site, and reviews of my books. It's good to have a few different measures, because I'm usually happy about one or two of them, but rarely all three at once.

What's the next destination you're working towards?

I'm working towards increasing my web presence. I've been blogging regularly, tweeting, and reaching out to other writers and bloggers to share my work. I'm usually shy about telling people what I've been working on, but I'm forcing myself to get over it.



Are you a writer in need of accountability and support as you build your platform? Check out the Starship and join Alicia (and D!).