It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
At some point we all have about the same picture in our heads of what being a successful, full-time writer will be like.
For me, this picture for some reason involved sitting at a desk in the middle of a room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows on all three sides, sitting with my laptop and writing for 12 hours straight every day while looking out at the ocean or a forest or whatever I wanted my future outdoor scenery to look like.
This setup is, unfortunately, not realistic for most writers. It turns out most writers still have to (sigh) go to work. In a real or virtual office. With office hours. And meetings.
Though it might seem like most writers — especially the “successful” ones — spend all day every day writing and are lucky enough to call it a job, the reality is that many writers, even published authors, still have day jobs. Some of them involve writing. But not always.
It’s so tempting to think that all you have to do is tolerate the tiresome job(s) that pay(s) the bills until you make enough money as a writer to be able to afford to quit. But it doesn’t always work that way.
Because of the way writers are generally paid — not usually on a consistent basis, and not usually as much as you would think — most writers decide to keep their day jobs even after they’ve started to gain recognition for their work. At the very least, many take up freelancing to make ends meet between paychecks.
In fact, many writing experts actually recommend that aspiring creators keep their day jobs even when their careers start taking off.
Why? Because you never know what’s going to happen. You could suddenly lose half your client base in the span of one week (this happened to me in 2017) and therefore a large chunk of your monthly income. Also, health insurance (if you’re in the United States). Factor in, too, inconsistent pay (it’s not always on a regular cycle depending on the job) and there not always being available work (depending on your level of experience, your niche, and how productive you typically are — among other things).
This is all very frustrating. Because as a writer, obviously all you want to do is write. All day every day, if you can. It’s what you’re good at! People are paying you to do it now! So shouldn’t you be able to get paid for what you want to do and stop doing what you don’t want to do just because you need the cash?
The biggest frustration of all — even if your day job does involve some kind of writing — is that working an eight hour day (or more) means you have less time and mental/physical energy to work on your own writing projects. You know, the ones you actually care about that are starting to (or will hopefully soon) bring in the bucks.
What do you do when your day job starts interfering with that time, and your ability to work on those projects? How do you make time? Do you have to give something up? What’s the “right” thing to do?
Continue reading “When Your Day Job ‘Gets In the Way’ Of Your Writing Time”