How I Made the Leap to Become a Full Time Writer
If your dream is to become a writer, and you’ve been talking to people about it, then no doubt you’ve heard that making money from writing is impossible.
Let me tell you something from experience – it is entirely possible to make money from writing. I’ve said this before, and people who know me are probably sick to death of hearing it, but I’ll say it again because it’s true:
The people who say it’s impossible to make money from writing are the people who didn’t try hard enough.
Being a writer had always been a dream of mine, but up until around three years ago, that’s all it was. It was one of those things you say you want to do, but don’t actually do anything about. And then, on a whim, I started a blog and everything changed.
I loved blogging, I still do, but I still wanted more. I wanted to write novels, short stories, maybe even the odd poem, and the dream that had burned within me for all of those years slowly started to become a reality as I wrote my first short story collection and then my first novel.
They were soon followed by another novel, a short story collection and a collection of funny poems. I now have four novels, three short story collections, the poetry collection I mentioned above and three non-fiction books available. And a whole host of ideas for more.
For the first year of writing my blog and books, I also had a full time job. I was the relief manager in a club, and while I didn’t hate the job, it didn’t inspire me to leap out of bed on a morning like writing did, and I began to think seriously about making writing a full time career.
I began looking into freelance writing and ghost writing and within a couple of weeks, I had several regular clients and I was getting approached by writers, publishers and website owners to write for them. Within around four months, I was making more money in my spare time from writing than I was from my actual job.
You see, I was lucky in a sense. I hadn’t told many people about my writing. Why? Well in the early days, saying I was writer when I was really only writing a blog was, in my mind, like saying you’re an actor when you haven’t actually been cast in anything.
And for that reason, no one told me making money from writing was impossible. It wasn’t until I was writing full time for more money than I’ve ever made in any other job that I discovered that the general consensus seems to be that this is impossible.
What made me make the leap from writing to top up my income, to leaving a safe job to pursue this crazy life? It was, by that point, the plan, but it was a long term plan, and then one day, one thought changed everything for me.
I had started ghost writing in June 2016. Once I realised the potential of it, I told myself that if I could make it work, I would leave my job in January 2017.
Around mid-September 2016, I realised that I was having to turn down well paid jobs because I couldn’t fit them in around working full time. And I really began to resent going to work for less money than I could have been making if I’d stayed home. But I was still apprehensive about going it alone.
I kept thinking to myself “but what if it doesn’t work out and I don’t make enough money to live on?”, “what if I have a bad month?”. So I continued working in a job I didn’t want while writing on the side.
And then one day in October 2016, I was at work on a quiet Tuesday afternoon and it suddenly hit me. The single thought that changed it all. I don’t know where the thought came from, but once I had it, I knew with an utter certainty that it was true:
If you don’t do this now, you never will.
I knew then that it was only self-doubt holding me back. I knew I could make a real living from this; I already was. And the only thing stopping me from making a lot more money was the fact that I had a full time job.
I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen right there and then and I worked out my finances. At that moment, I had enough savings that I could afford to go three months without making a single penny and be fine if it came to it. I had planned on having enough money to go six months, but that voice wasn’t having that.
If you don’t do this now, you never will. It was on a loop in my head.
I have always been one of those people that encourage others to live the life they want to live. And I knew I had to give myself that chance. The timeline I had set for myself and the target savings I had in mind were just ways to put off making the leap because it was a long way outside of my comfort zone.
Well, it was time to leave my comfort zone and start to really make the life I wanted for myself. And that’s what I did.
I went home and wrote my resignation letter and the next morning, on my day off, I went into work and handed that letter in.
I’ve never once regretted that decision. I am free to do the thing I love for a living and working rarely feels like a chore. Sure there are some days when I feel like I’d rather go off and do something that doesn’t involve sitting in front of a laptop, but who doesn’t feel that way about their job sometimes?
When I feel that way, if my deadlines allow it, I take the day off. If they don’t, then I suck it up and get on with it, reminding myself this is the life I chose. I find it a whole lot easier to be motivated to work when I’m doing it for me instead of to make a rich executive richer.
Are there bad months? Sure. But in two years, I’ve never had to dip into that safety net I tried so hard to build up.
There are so many opportunities out there if you’re willing to go and look for them. There are so many different ways you can make money from writing if you’re willing to work hard and push yourself.
If writing is a dream where you see yourself swanning around Paris, rich and famous, maybe it’s better being just a dream, a place you go to in your head when you want to escape the day to day reality for a while.
But if writing is a dream where you see yourself doing a job you love every day, then go for it, and know this: writing for a living is not impossible. It’s hard work at times, but it’s more than doable.
Give yourself the chance to live the life you’ve always dreamed of. You owe it to yourself to be happy, and you CAN do this.
Bio and Links
Born in 1982 in North East England, I knew from an early age I wanted to be a writer. Life got in the way, and the dream was put on the back burner, although never forgotten. I am now a full time author and freelance writer and I write my own blog, My Random Musings.
I have published four novels, three short story collections, three non-fiction books and a collection of funny poems.
Blog link: www.myrandommusings.co.uk
Amazon Author Page: https://goo.gl/FrXC4V
You come up with an idea and write your heart out. You read it to friends, family, and critique groups. You meet the editor that loves your story and gives you a contract for a book deal. Sigh...life is good.
The illustrator does an amazing job creating fabulous images for your text and makes the characters irresistible. Your book will come into the world soon. It's such an exciting time! But wait...
Your book is coming out soon! What will you do to be sure you aren't the only one buying it? What point is your story if no one reads it? Who will buy any of your other books if this one doesn't sell?
Figuring out your book launch is an anxious time. There are so many options for letting the world know that your book exists. You can promote on social media, throw a book launch party, have book signings, buy swag, do book giveaways, and beg friends to write reviews for you. It's easy to have paralysis of analysis, trying to figure out which ways to spend your time and resources to best market your book.
You have to be careful you don't over-promote and make everyone sick of hearing your news, but be bold enough to share so people are aware. The ultimate goal is that word of mouth would spread organically to the target audience of people who would want your book. You hope those who support you, as a person, will support your creative work too.
The best way to get this kind of support is to support others. When a friend has a new product or book, buy it or write a review for him/her. When you are on social media, share others' posts and comment and like others' news. When someone hosts you on his/her blog, interview him/her in return. The publishing world is smaller than it appears. Taking the time to get to know and support others on their writing journey will develop important relationships.
There are lots of things you can do to help your sales. From buying ads to doing book tours. The most important thing though, is to build relationships so people will care about you and your books. If you have ideas on how to build relationships in the creative world, please share!
Each year, after winter break, I have my kids write their own stories. We go through the entire publication process. We start with brainstorming, write our first draft, edit, revise, and even have critiques from students in upper grades. Then, we illustrate all of the pages and send them off to Studentreasures Publishing to be made into hard cover picture books.
The students also get to draw their main characters to send into Budsies. The Budsies company changes each picture into a plush character! From there, we create book commercials using iMovie trailers. Lastly, the students illustrate a white dress for me to wear to our publication celebration.
We invite the parents to come in and see all of the books and characters and then relax and enjoy watching the book trailers each student created. We end with some cookies and punch and wonderful memories.
To read more about this experience, click this link: https://www.budsies.com/blog/stories/books-come-to-life-thanks-to-their-inspiring-teacher/
It's that time of year. We begin reflecting on the passing year and look onward to the times ahead. Do you set New Year's resolutions? Are they goals for your physical or spiritual health? For your career? Home improvements?
I could create a post long enough to keep you procrastinating a lot longer on your to-do list, but I'll simply it for you:
1. Make the List
2. Do the List
3. Take care of the list-maker!
Make the List
I'm a 'to-do' list girl. I always have been. I have an on-going list at home, at school, and for my writing work. For the new year, I usually create a goal list. From there, the goals get broken down into my to-do lists, or steps to accomplish these goals. I start with the things that have due dates or deadlines and work my way backwards. If there is something you really want to accomplish, you should put it on the list. If there is something you aren't serious about or don't think is important in this season of your life, don't clutter your list with things that aren't a priority right now. (You can always add things on your future lists.)
Do the List
On every list I create, there are some things that I can't wait to tackle and there are some things that I wish I didn't have to do. The list items that are daunting, could be scary because the task is overwhelming, difficult, or takes me out of my comfort zone. For these things, I try to remember this video from a leadership training I attended.
Once you eat the frog(s) on your list each day, it really does set you into motion for conquering other things you need to take care of. I take great satisfaction in taking a fat sharpie and crossing off those unpleasant list items once they are done. By the time my list gets whittled down to a few items, I usually have some new ideas or tasks that need to be added. I create a brand new list and add the ones from the old list at the top. The cycle continues and I find the frogs and eat them.
Take Care of the List-Maker
As I have gotten older and my responsibilities have grown, I've discovered the most important element in making and doing my lists. You have to take care of the list-maker. Over the past few years, as a full time teacher, a mom to two teenagers, an author, speaker, the regional advisor for the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and a member on the board of directors for the Indiana Reading Association, I've had to pause and reflect on what drains my energy and what fuels it. I realized that I would either have to give up some of the things I love to do or find a way to do them in a healthy way so that I can continue and still do a good job.
After a visit to my doctor and an honest look at my priorities, here is what I came up with:
I hope these tips are helpful and that the new year brings you exciting adventures and opportunities. If you would like to stay connected, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook and subscribe to my newsletter below:
Please add your favorite tips for reaching your goals in the comments. I'd love to hear them!
I’m at a writing conference in Philadelphia and am staying on a campus in a dorm. So many thoughts swirled in my head last night about getting my classroom ready for the school year, missing my family, trying to figure out how I'm going to do all of the things I've learned at this conference, finding time to write all of the stories I have ideas for, and figuring out what to add to my blog. My thoughts even took me to the white duck in the pond on the campus here. The poor little guy is all alone, swimming around all day by himself every time I see him. It was hard to sleep with so many stray thoughts.
When my alarm went off at 5:30am, I was not excited about waking up. I’m normally a morning person, but I run every other day and I did not run yesterday. I could also hear rain hitting the window. Ugh.
It would have been really easy to reason away why I shouldn’t have to run. I’m at a conference, it’s raining, it’s hilly, and I’m so tired. I should maybe set the alarm for another hour so I can be more alert in my sessions today.
Blessings at Mile 0: Deciding to get up and do it anyway. I climbed out of bed and got my running clothes on. Before I left my room, I checked my email. The top email was from Hawaii, from a man that asked me to contribute to a book about kindness. Today was book release day! Fun news!
Blessings at Mile 1: The rain feels awesome in the warm air. As I turn on the road leading around a chapel, there in the grass, was a flock of geese. They were calm and seemed to be socializing and enjoying their time together. In the middle of the flock was the little white duck. He has friends! I smiled the rest of that mile knowing he had someone to hang out with.
Blessing at Mile 2: As you could probably guess, I’m an animal lover. The blessing in this mile was a group of baby and mama deer peacefully grazing by some trees. They seemed completely unphased by me running by.
Blessing at Mile 3: My route took me back by the pond. There swam the little white duck, again by himself. Maybe he is like me and enjoys fellowship with others as much as he enjoys his alone time in the pond. This made me smile too.
Blessing at Mile 4: I started seeing people heading to breakfast and realized my running time was up. I made it 4 miles and feel great. Time for a shower, some good food, and I guess I figured out a blog post to write!
Enjoy life's simple blessings.