Can I Write Full Time?

This is the question on any writer’s mind, at least most of the ones that I know. We all want to be able to write full time because, hey, it’s a full time job. Oftentimes, others do not understand how hard it is to be a successful writer while balancing another job…or two jobs. I want to know if it is possible…and if so, how? How do you transition into a job that can be so unsure at first?

I am a teacher. I also work part-time as a bookseller. On top of this, I am a writer. Out of my whole day, I probably spend about 90% of it working in some way or another. I don’t usually think of my writing as “working,” but for all intents and purposes, it is, at the end of the day, applied to my writing career. That leaves me 10% of my waking day to my own personal life. So, of course, I’d love it if I could replace my teaching and part-time job with writing full time.

But how?

I explained to my husband that even if I was to start full-time, I probably wouldn’t see profit for a good year or so. Everything runs so slowly in the publishing world. Nothing is quick. Paychecks won’t be bi-weekly. They’ll be quarterly…if that. It makes it seem so impossible…so far away. A goal that will always be out of reach. Not impossible, but not immediate either.

I am trying to fade out of education. While I love being a teacher, I dislike all the politicking and bureaucracy behind it. I have a hard time envisioning myself doing anything else besides writing. It’s my life goal. It’s my passion. It’s what I am happiest doing.

I would like to hear from other authors who have transitioned from being a part-time writer to a full-time writer. How did you ever do it? When did you take your leap of faith? When did you decide that it was time to hold your breath, close your eyes and jump?

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3 thoughts on “Can I Write Full Time?

  1. Harper Jayne says:

    I write “full time” but I have a partner who works full time in a “normal” job that makes that possible. My “full time” is broken up across the day as I deal with our baby. Much of what I accomplish is done after hours (12am-4am) and in small spurts throughout the day.

    The “bright side” being that I’m an indie author. Your talk of slow starts isn’t as much of an issue for indies as it is for those going tradpub. When I start selling, money starts coming in. (No advance, and I have a number of expenses before publication actually . . . but I *will* see the money from my sales more rapidly.)

    The way to do it IMO is to ensure that you can live on one salary. Do that first (using the overage to pay down credit/loans or if you are one of those weird debt free couples, put it into savings) to be sure you can make it work.

    Best of luck to you!

    • Thanks for the insight! I wish my husband made enough to sustain us both (and hopefully a baby soon), but that’s not in the works right now. I’m hoping that my writing career picks up a little bit, and I can bring in enough to be able to write full time, but it’s a catch-22. You need to write more to produce more, and produce more in order to write full time. 😛 Ah, the conundrum.

  2. There are a couple of things to consider. First, the economic question. If you are on your own, could you feed and house yourself while establishing a writing career? This may boil down to your tolerance of roaches and Ramen Noodles. If however, you have partner who can support you, then the economic question morphs into a domestic question. How long can the relationship sustain the asymmetrical situation of “you go to work and I stay home and write?” Writing, like reading can be “work,” but it never looks like work. And no matter how much two people talk about it, but until it is tested you never know.
    Then there is the psychological burden of being, OMG, A FULL-TIME WRITER! The part-timer has all kinds of anxieties and grips. And, if the writing is not going well or fast enough, all kinds of legitimate excuses. But if all you have to do is write…. Think about it
    None of this is meant to cock a snoot at the full-time writer. It is merely to hold in mind the old Chinese curse: “May you get what you wish for.” While in part-time limbo, there may be some small advantages. None of this is meant to cock a snoot at the full-time writer. It is merely to hold in mind the old Chinese curse: “May you get what you wish for.” While in part-time limbo, there may be some small advantages.

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