You daydream about being a full-time writer, don’t you? But have you thought it through? Full-time writing usually entails more work than a regular nine-to-five occupation, to say nothing of the stress of running a business. And you will be running a business if you want to go full-time.
Everyone needs money. Not any given amount of money, only more than you have. That’s why even established writers have day jobs because until you’re Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, or George Martin, you will need a source of income to supplement whatever you earn from the sales of your books.
Before you begin to bemoan the state of the publishing industry today, let me tell you that it’s been like this since the invention of the printing press, perhaps before. Writers were always freelancers, offering their services for hire, typing, copywriting, editing, ghostwriting, advertising, article writing, tutorage, or teaching at a university, doing anything to stay afloat. No one, not even the select few who gained the patronage of some wealthy aristocrat were free to do as they wished with their time. Patronage meant duties, obligations, and, unfortunately, subservience.
The freedom to pursue your craft is a myth.
The intention of this article is not to send you into the black depths of despair but to debunk some myths surrounding the full-time writing occupation. I hope this will allow you to think what you’re after and come up with a realistic plan.
Here, the myths in question:
Myth #1: I Will Have More Motivation to Write
Yes, but not loads more. You will still be you; your motivation and discipline will have stayed the same. The only increase in productivity will come from the pressure to make a living, and that’s not good.
Myth #2: I Will Have More Time to Write
You won’t. Life will get in the way the same way it always does. Family, friends, chores, and hobbies will expand to occupy the space available.
Watching a movie will always have more appeal than generating new qualifying leads for your business.
Myth #3: Once I’m a Full-Time Writer, Then I Will Be Happy
You should know by now that all “once I,” “if only,” and “when I finally” conditional statements related to happiness turn out big fat disappointments in the end. You’ll be as happy or unhappy as you are today.
Reaching your goals rewards you with short-term elation, not a long-term change in happiness.
Myth #4: I will have more control over my finance
You will be responsible for your finance, sure, but not in control, never in control. Instead of a regular salary, your livelihood will depend on a combination of supply, demand, and being in the right place at the right time. And marketing. Have I mentioned you’ll have to learn marketing?
Expectations vs Reality
I wrote this article because there are a lot of frustrated writers out there. Their frustration stems from a mismatch between what they imagined the writing life to be and what it really is. I don’t want you to become one of them. Understand the industry, plan your career.
The market has never been healthier, and more open to new arrivals. But make no mistake, it is a market. It doesn’t owe you a good living, nor fame, nor privilege. Anything you’re after, you need to earn.
I’ve been told earning trust, rather than visibility, is a great place to start.
Well said Sebastian. Keep doing!