Writers spend much time and effort creating books, and those who are serious about making a living — or at least supplementing household income — invariably reach the proverbial fork in the road when they must ask, “Do I have what it takes?” If you have reached this point, here are a few questions you may find helpful:
1.) Are you willing to rise every morning to face a blank computer screen or intense edits?
2.) If so, do you have adequate family support to pursue a career where you work out of your home and resulting income will be irregular?
3.) Are you willing to write and then rewrite, and then rewrite, and then rewrite, your book?
4.) Do you cope well with deadlines?
5.) Are you getting positive feedback from publishing professionals?
6.) Are you ready to form a partnership with an agent, editor, and publisher?
These are just a few questions aspiring writers should ask. Which questions did I miss?
Have you quit your day job to be a full-time writer? Share your experience.
In your experience, what is the most challenging aspect of making a solid income as a writer?
Have you changed your writing to capture a market? How?
Good questions to ask…
Coincidentally, my husband and I have had these conversations recently resulting in this:
Someone once told my husband, go all the way or you cannot become successful by splitting your time.
Meaning, if you are called into something it is important to embrace it and give it your all.
I’m thankful for a husband who is supportive in my writing endeavor and encourages me to do the best I can so that I can make writing my full time job if God allows.
Amy Boucher Pye
All fantastic questions. Love number 3 especially.
One more question could be, Are you willing to face disappointment, criticism and rejection? Writing can feel so personal and criticism thus can cut deeply. “What do you mean, my baby’s deformed?” the writer says…
Yes, Amy, that’s a good question to add! We need to have some pretty broad shoulders. 🙂
Excellent question, Amy because writing can bring all three of those and at the same time. I’m fortunate that hubby and I are retired and my writing time is whenever I want to make it and how long I want to sit at my desk. Writing is hard work and doesn’t end when a contract is signed and a manuscript turned in for publication.
Two more questions from my experience:
• Are you disciplined enough to set aside a hefty chunk of your meager income for taxes, insurance, and other things your employer was taking care of before?
• Do you have a plan in place to “fortify” your home office against interruptions (especially from friends/family/neighbors who think since you’re home all day you’re free to babysit their kids, volunteer at church, go out for coffee on a moment’s notice, etc.?
Erin Taylor Young
Great questions, Deborah, and extremely important if we’re to have integrity in the responsibilities that come with this profession.
Perfect questions, Deborah! Taxes are a killer when you’re self-employed.
And in terms of interruptions, one must set very firm time boundaries and become an expert at graciously saying “no” to friends and acquaintances who assume that just because you are a full-time writer, you’ll be willing to edit/critique/rewrite/coach their writing for free.
Janet Ann Collins
Do you have enough ideas to write lots of books?
Great question, Janet!
Janet Ann Collins
Thanks. I’ve seen some famous authors’ books get boring after a while because they’re all alike.
Fabulous questions, Tamela!
Quitting my day job is not currently an option. I’m a tutor and my students count on me to help them get ready for state tests and such. God has called me to this work, and I enjoy it. It makes a huge difference in young lives, and I live for that.
Yes, writing does often take a backseat to this job, but I have recently figured out a better system for using my time wisely. Now I have time to tutor and to write. It’s a win-win.
I mustered the courage to ask my client if I might work on a part time basis, unheard of in IT consulting. They said yes, so I cut back my company to just me and went to three days a week. I did this as the sole provider for my family. Shortly thereafter my husband, after ten years of staying home with our girls, got a teaching position at the local high school. It’s scary financially, but so far so good. God is the engineer of our circumstances.
Are you quitting the right way for the right reasons (a la Jon Acuff’s book Quitter)? Are you ready for a dozen new bosses (the electric company, the water company, etc.)?
Retired and jumped into writing full time. Self -discipline, thick skin, willingness to change, continuing your education such as learning new technologies. Yep, these are some of the characteristics I think you need to be a professional writer. Having a desire and a good story isn’t enough.
I discovered that quitting my day job to write books was a stepping stone to yet another type of writing career. Through the book writing experience, I learned that my true passion is short-form writing.
Now, instead of writing books, I ghost blog for authors so they are freed up to write their books. I’m writing more than I ever did when I wrote books, and am getting paid a livable wage. It’s the best of both worlds, for me.
This is a tough one for me, Tamela. I didn’t face the question of whether to quit my day job because I was laid off 3 1/2 years ago. So, I’ve been job hunting and making ends meet with freelance work ever since. On top of that, I’m single so I don’t have a husband’s income or insurance to help out. Ack! Most of the time I try not to think about it because it stresses me out.
So my struggle is: Will I ever earn enough to make up for not having regular income? Should I keep trying to find a full-time position or concentrate on writing and pursuing more freelance opportunities?
All that said, though, God has taken such good care of me! Plus, this time of unemployment led me/forced me to finish my novel, which is getting published this fall. And my sister and I are in the process of starting a manuscript editing and design business. If that wasn’t enough, I’ve been able to spend so much time with my family, making tons of memories a full-time job would have gotten in the way of.
Lord willing, I won’t have to go back to the daily workforce. For all the times I wondered why God put me in the difficult situation of being unemployed long-term, I can look back now and see His hands all over my life. Feels good!
This is a helpful list and it shows me I’m closer than I thought. The idea of irregular income doesn’t concern me, but the thought of inadequate income does!
Leslie G Nelson
For now I resolve this sticky issue by working a graveyard job that allows me almost uninterrupted time to write. but the dream of writing full-time is ever on my mind. And if writing is the dream, taxes and insurance are the nightmares, LOL!
Tamela Hancock Murray
Hi all: I have been away on travel but I really enjoyed reading the discussion and back and forth on this post. This is why we write this blog — to connect you with ourselves and with each other. Thank you so much for being part of our blog community!
Tamela, is it too much to ask for my book, if published, to pay off my student loans?… At least, that is what my wife and family are praying for!
I think it’s the ultimate dream for writers to financially sustain themselves while doing what they dream of. But (from my perspective) the reality of that happening seems very slim. I work three part-time jobs and am in grad school. So, I could only hope that my writing will help me quit one of those jobs! haha.