Tag Archive | writing dreams

Writing What You Love & A Case For Keeping Your Day Job

We all want to do what we love for a living, right? I know I do. They say (and we all know who they are) that if you choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. I think I might make a poster of that, complete with a picture of my cat sleeping on the radiator.

Writers are often asked, especially when they are starting out, if they plan to make writing a full time career. You know, quit your stultifying 9 to 5 job and live off the fat of the advance and royalty checks that will shower upon you like rain in Dublin. Naturally, we’d all love to do this. That dream is right up there with winning the lottery. Getting your first book deal feels even harder than hitting Lotto.

The truth is, only a small percentage of authors can rely on what they bring in from their writing as their sole source of income. Next time you go to your bookstore at say, 11am on a Tuesday, pay close attention to all of the names you see on the spines of the books. The vast majority of those folks are slaving away at some office while you’re out browsing.

Where’s the glamour in that? What’s the point of struggling to get published if I still have to clock in every day and stare at my cubicle walls?

I’m here to tell you that there is an upside to this. When we commit to being a writer, we’re basically juggling two full time jobs. The day job pays the bills and hopefully gives you some sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Writing feeds the soul and puts you in touch with your passion. Keeping up with both jobs also gives you freedom and peace of mind. That’s right, I said you’ll have more freedom, even within your cloth covered cube!

What’s this upside I seem so hellbent to profess?

• Publishers don’t give writers benefit plans or retirement savings. Anyone over 30 with kids will understand the importance of this. In fact, a lot of people consider this more important than salary when considering a job.

• Your day job gives you a steady paycheck. That means you can plan your finances, count on buying groceries every week and paying the rent every month. There are no cash dry spells when you have a day job.

• Because you don’t depend on writing to keep you and your family from living in a cardboard box, you have the FREEDOM to write about the things you love and are passionate about. You take on assignments and book projects that you want to do, not just ones that you need to do in order to survive.

I write horror. Unless your last name is King, Barker, Koontz or a handful of others, you’re confined to being a midlist author, which means the financial payoff will not have you putting a down payment on that pretty Jaguar.

Of the few horror writers I know who make writing their only career, I see their stress and have been told by more than one to treasure my day job. It’s stressful when you have to produce a prodigious output and hope that publishers will accept it and pay something worth the effort. There are no guarantees. Writing in genres they’d never read in becomes a necessity. Did I mention the stress?

Look, we all should dare to dream about landing that game changing book or movie deal that will put our 9 to 5 days behind us. It’s the carrot that keeps us chasing the stick. But don’t fret that you’re on published book #7 and still saying hi to your boss every morning. When you go home at night, you get to dive into the world you love most, and you get recognized and rewarded for it. Not too shabby.

Now, what’s your opinion? Do you think I’m crazy to embrace my day job or spot on? Have you managed to become a full time writer? Share a war story.

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