After writing last week’s post, I kept asking myself, “Should I quit my job to write full time?”
And the answer was always a resounding, “NO! Are you crazy???”
Let me give a longer answer in two tries:
First: The general idea behind leaving a stable position for an uncertain freelancing position requires planning and preparation
A full time writer is a freelance writer. You can’t quit to sit back and write a novel. You have to sell blog posts, articles, and other small projects to sustain you while you finish the big project.
All those blog posts by people who made it are probably the minority. People who don’t make it aren’t maintaining successful blogs, they have little WordPress blogs like this one that Google doesn’t even include in search results. Freelance writing means hustling your product, finding and keeping clients, maintaining an online presence and often cutting back on non-essential expenses like HBO, cable in general, gym memberships, etc.
Personally, I’m trying to pay student loans off in the next 4.5 years and I won’t be doing anything to jeopardize that.
Now, if you’re incredibly miserable and also have a side writing business lined up and six months or more of financial safety net set aside, then, yeah, maybe full time freelance writing is for you! Have fun and I look forward to reading your blog post on it.
I found this article to be quite helpful and reassuring. To paraphrase, work on your space program, don’t start with the rocket.
Second: Writing full time may not be the dream job it is in your daydreams
It’s not an uncertainty issue, it’s the fact that any job can be stressful at times and you will always find yourself spending hours doing something you don’t necessarily want to do. You may have to write on a topic you don’t care about for $100 because that’s grocery money you don’t otherwise have.
Wait, having to complete a task you find boring or unpleasant for a paycheck?
Sounds like a regular job! What are the odds?
If I could go into a personal note here, I’m not even sure that I want to write full time. At least, not right now. I love writing and I know that I want to do it for the rest of my life. I know that I want to share my work with others (and I’d really love to make money off of it). When I volunteer at Phoenix Comicon, I imagine myself having my own booth there, someday (after sitting anxiously on the waiting list for a few years).
But, I’d rather transition to that when I have already established my blogging and author platform. I want to have more control over what I write.
Essentially, I want to take my hobby and use it to support myself financially, but I don’t want to have writing be my job.
So, before you take the leap and quit your day job to become a writer, maybe you should ask yourself a few questions:
Do I really have the resources and the skills to start this kind of career?
Am I ready to be my own boss (file my own invoices, do my own taxes, etc. etc.)
Do I want to write full time or do I just want more time to write?
Have I talked to established authors about what they did and what they recommend?
Before wrapping up, I want to touch on the last one for a bit. Every year at Phoenix Comicon in one of the author panels, this question comes up (should you quit your day job). The answer is ALWAYS NO. Keep your steady income until you actually have a writing platform to work from. Keep your day job until you are sure that you can support yourself on writing alone.
And be sure you can support yourself in the lifestyle you want. Some of us, for example, like to
flee vacation out of the country every couple of years and go visit new places in our own country. We like to eat out and buy nice presents for birthdays and Christmas.
Okay, I like to do those things. But I won’t be leaving my day job until I am sure I can do those things as a full time writer.
And, most importantly, I’m okay with the possibility that such a day may never come.