Everything Changes When Writing Becomes Your Full-time Job

That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

We all start out in the same place.

Sitting in our bedrooms, writing our way from dreams to goals to accomplishments one word at a time.

It’s a hobby. Until it isn’t anymore.

When I quit freelancing, I made my full-time writing job my main career focus. As the weeks went on, that meant I had to choose how to spend my evenings and weekends. I could spend them working on my own writing projects. Or I could scale back on those extra projects and split my time between my job and my “me” time.

Lately, I’ve been choosing me time more than extra project time. And at first, that worried me. Did I suddenly no longer care about my book? Was I going to abandon it for good?

The answer is, of course, no. As a writer, you learn the importance of diversifying not only your income, but your creative time. I’ll always rely on those extra things to keep my creative energy up and fuel my internal motivation outside the office.

In reality, something big had shifted without my noticing. Suddenly, writing was no longer something I did on nights and weekends to keep my bank account alive. It was, officially, my career. I went to work to write. There was a time I wondered if I’d ever even want to do that. It’s not always feasible to come home from a long day of writing and continue writing. It’s not always realistic, or necessary.

How do you balance this — writing all day and then coming home to write for personal gain (e.g., trying to finish writing that stupid book)? That’s advice for another post. I’m still figuring it out. I don’t have all the answers. But I do know it’s a tough transition. You hear so many stories about aspiring creatives spending all day doing boring work, only to come home and pursue their dreams through exhaustion and doubt. Many people’s stories turn out that way. But they don’t always. They don’t have to.

This isn’t a hobby anymore. It’s also not something to work “toward.” It’s real. It’s not always exactly what you want it to be, but it’s something. It’s a bigger part of your life than you might have ever believed it could be.

Is it worth it? Yes. If that’s what you have worked toward, or are in the process of doing so, it’s a dream worth chasing. You just have to know, going in, that you might have to reframe the way you look at this thing that was once your hobby or part-time gig. It’s not bad. It’s just … different.

There are still days I get frustrated. Because you really do get too tired, too mentally exhausted, to push yourself as hard as you want to. That’s not laziness. It’s normal.

It’s still a struggle. But that’s what we sign up for, when we decide to be writers. We accept challenges we aren’t even aware of yet. And we face them. And sometimes, we even conquer them.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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6 thoughts on “Everything Changes When Writing Becomes Your Full-time Job

  1. I agree. It’s such a different animal when it’s the stolen moments after a day spent doing other things. I think one of the most important questions all writers need to consider, if they want to make a profession of it, is whether they really can write for 6-8 hours a day, or whether they need to have at least a part time “non writing” job to balance out their finances.
    I myself have never spent more than 3 hours a day on writing. Granted I am juggling other things as well, but it’s a question I hope to answer in the coming year. “What does it feel like to sit and work on writing the way that I normally do for my day job?”

    1. That’s a REALLY great point, and an even better question to ask yourself. There are some people who really can’t do this all day every day — and that’s OK. But it’s a good thing to know.

      1. Mmm. It’s still something I’m working on. I love storytelling, and would love to spend more time studying and working on it, which is the real reason I want to make money through writing, but I also find it very mentally taxing. Yesterday was the first time I ever managed to put in 4 hours within a single day, and today I felt a little run down because of it.
        I’m hopeful that, like any other muscle, my mind will grow in endurance over time.

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