More About the Full-time Leap
Yesterday I began writing about when to make the full-time leap into the writing life. It’s not a light step and (if possible) should be done with a great deal of planning and thought.
There is a common saying among the writing community and something you hear often from editors and at conferences, “Don’t quit your day job.” Over the years, I’ve watched countless people take the plunge into full-time writing. Maybe they belong to an online writers group and leap out there. Then the emails begin to come to the group about their struggles to pay their monthly bills or their struggles to find work. I shake my head and know they didn’t spend enough thought before they took that leap into the full-time work.
I’d speculate the actual numbers of people who write full-time without another day job are pretty small. If you eliminate the people who have a spouse working full-time at a job and supporting their writing, the figure would be even smaller. I’m not going to be able to detail every aspect in this post but here are some aspects to consider:
1) Are you prepared to face some lean months (or even years)? Have you saved the resources for this possibility? Understand that the book publishing world moves slowly to make decisions and often it takes a while to land magazine assignments (even the smaller ones).
2) Are you a self-starter? Do you get things done without supervision? You will have to be able to do this key skill if you write full-time?
3) Do you have the business background to run your own business? Or at least a willingness to learn? You will have to create invoices, bill, follow up on late clients, build clients, and many other business related skills.
4) Are you willing to write anything? Or simply focused on one type of writing such as children’s writing or magazine writing? Too often, people who want to write full-time are focused on a singular type of writing. Are you willing to write public relations related materials, annual reports, brochures or newsletters? Or are you simply willing to write things where your by-line or name appears on the particular article or book? You will have to consider these decisions. If you have decided only to write your own materials, I believe it’s the sure way to possible failure (in most cases). Flexibility will be helpful.
5) Are you willing to learn during the writing life? Or have you arrived? Your attitude will be key in this leap to full-time work.
6) Do you know if you have a talent for the writing life? Have you tested the market? I’m talking about getting published in the smaller magazines or newspapers or newsletters before you try and write a book.
We live in an instant gratification society. People want to be able to get it and get it now. This type of attitude isn’t realistic to make the leap into full-time writing. It will be necessary to learn the business and learn it well. It will be necessary to apprentice in your craft and be mentored in the writing life.
I’ve only scratched the surface with this topic. Hopefully I’ve stirred some solid questions for you to consider. It’s a journey and each of us are on it. It begins with a single step.