The Writer With A Day Job

“The writer with a day job.” That sounds like most of us, doesn’t it?

I came across this article on Writer’s Digest about questions that a writer should ask before quitting a job to write as their main source of income. I thought I should share it – even if most of us are not yet at the point where we are considering writing full time.

Personally, even when I am at the point where my writing could provide a decent living by itself, I would still want to work. Why? Well, sometimes, it’s good just to have a change of scenery from the place that you eat and sleep in. Which brings up the topic of renting an office to write in, or purchasing a writing cabin. I would like to do both of those things – when the time is right, of course.

A little over a year ago, I wrote about my dream writing job here. I seemed pretty giddy at the idea of writing for a living! I wouldn’t change much from that, except that I’d definitely want a meaningful job on the side to get a different perspective of life every so often. There is also a certain energy I get from putting on nice clothes to be at the office for a certain time. Now, I just need to find out what that ideal job would be… and sell lots of books in the mean time! 🙂

I am interested to hear your thoughts. Would you quit your current job if you sold enough copies to finance the ability to write full time? Are any of you at the point where you are considering quitting where you work – or even reducing your hours – to focus more time on writing?

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27 thoughts on “The Writer With A Day Job

  1. Great post, Sara. And a great question. Off the top of my head, I’d say, sure I would quit my day job to write full time if it were feasible. But it would take A LOT to make it feasible. The number one concern would be health insurance (for my whole family) since it isn’t even offered at my husband’s job and I carry the insurance for the family. Then there’s that pesky, steady income that would be hard to give up! 🙂

  2. My day job involves spending 10 to 12 hours a day handling every aspect of publishing a line of books and a magazine: acquisitions, contracts, editing, working with the authors, working with the proofreaders, working with the artists, planning the marketing, writing sales copy, preparing product pages for the website, writing the newsletters, and a dozen other “little” jobs.

    In some ways this is great because I know the publishing business inside-out. But by the time I get home, usually the last thing I want to do is sit at that same computer to work on my own fiction. It’s difficult to even think about writing because I’m mentally drained.

    It would be amazing to write full-time. I have a dozen novels I could start tomorrow. Probably 25 short stories I could start the day after that.

    But, of course, the economic reality of the situation doesn’t make that likely. 😉

  3. Since I’m just a graduate assistant quitting my current job really wouldn’t make a difference in my writing life too much. But, I don’t think I would quit my job until my students loans were paid off. Then, if I was making good money from writing I would quit my day job and write full time. I definitely think there is something nice about getting up and going to work like you said. It’s hard to stay in the same space and write all the time. I think I would love to have a writing cabin somewhere beautiful.

  4. I *did* quit my day job to write! (but then immediately found a part time day job, which is what I’d wanted all along). I simply don’t have the brain power and time to write properly while working full time, so i reconciled myself to living on twigs and acorns for a couple of years while I give it a try. I had no dependents (but also no financial supporters), so I only had to worry about myself.
    So far I have seen absolutely no financial return on my investment, so do you call that a fail? I don’t. I think it was the best decision I ever made. I might very well have to go back to working full time some time soon. But I am very glad I have given writing a proper shot.

    1. Ooh you pretty much described what I want! 🙂 If I can find a really good paying part time job, I will totally do that, too. After I pay off a few things first, of course. I am in the same boat as you – single with no dependents which makes things MUCH easier when it comes to writing.

      I am happy to hear that you feel it is the best decision you made and that you have no regrets. I think it’s worth it for every writer to give that a try, even if it’s just for the short term.

      1. i read a thing a while back about the regrets people have on their death beds. It’s always the stuff they didn’t do, not the stupid stuff they did. It’s the dreams they didn’t pursue. Even if I never can make a living as a writer, at least I wrote one book, and it was as good as I could make it 🙂

  5. What a good thing to remember. It is so rewarding to make writing a priority – as well as our other dreams. 🙂 I’ve got three books done while working, so imagine what I could do with more time…hmmm!!

  6. Hmmmmm, this is a hard one. I haven’t worked since last year, so I DID give up work to write. Unfortunately, here I am 9 months later with not a lot achieved lol.

    On the other hand, I have a friend who is just about to publish her 3rd novel. She wrote the first 2 whilst still working. She’s now given up work and has just finished the 4th. She openly admits that there is no way she could continue working at a job with her publishers wanting a book a year. With all the editing and deadlines there aren’t enough hours in the day!

    Sooooo, I think there comes a time where you HAVE to give up work. On the other hand, you know what the old saying is….give a job to a busy person and it gets done. I just have TOO MUCH time on my hands lol

    Xx

    1. That is really cool that you have been able to write without working! I think sometimes, the brain storming phase can take a while, but I am sure once you are on a roll, you will finish lots of books. 🙂 Plus, you have your new desk now.

      It seems to be working out very well for your friend which is awesome! 🙂

      I think there is some truth to that saying about giving a job to a busy person and they will get it done. I’ve somehow finished three books in the past two years and started several others while working full time – so it can be done under the right circumstances.

      But I want to see how much more writing work I could do with just part time hours. Here’s to hoping! 🙂

  7. I don’t know. I guess it would depend. I think social interaction is important, like the article said, so maybe I’d volunteer somewhere or work a few hours a week. Also, having that family support is key. I don’t write nearly as much as I could because I have a lot of family obligations.

  8. Writing full time sounds ideal at first, but I need people to interact with. I find I am able to write more when I have a day-to-day job to go to. Currently I work 75% time and am able to use the rest of that time towards finishing work. It’s a good balance I could keep up for a long time.

  9. An interesting, and one that makes you wonder. Writing full-time and being able to support myself (and a family) on that has always been a dream of mine, but it does seem to be a pretty solitude life. There’s only so many ideas before you need to stick your head out the window and get a different perspective haha.

    Good luck to you!

  10. I have quit work (usually teaching posts) several times in life to pursue writing projects, (as well as twice to make short films) but I’ll be much slower to do it in future. I think you are right, it is very important to get out of your own space, both physical space (home) and the mental space we all inhabit. Too much isolation drives us nuts. Or it does me at least. I like my own company, and crave the time to write, but these days I think I’ve found the perfect balance. I teach 9.30-1.15 every week-morning, (in a language school) then have a break for 1.5-2 hours, where I change, lunch, do household admin, and blog-site admin. Then from about 3 pm, I’ll get the head down seriously I write from anything from 3-9 hours. I think the only way I could justify it in future is If I knew I was making more money writing then teaching, consistently I mean, not just for a month here or there. Even then I might think twice. Balance is important.

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