• Published a book you want to tell us about? Uploaded a YouTube video you want to share?

    Normally you'll need 100 posts to self-promote, but with an upgraded membership you can do so with your first post.

    Find out more here: Become a Supporting Member

Delilah Dawson on writing full time

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
Supporter
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
4,646
Location
Connecticut, USA
Another one of Delilah Dawson's great Twitter threads, this time on the nitty gritty of what it means to quit your day job to write full time.
(I know for sure we've discussed day jobs vs writing full time more than once, but I couldn't find any of the threads I wanted, so apologies for bringing up an already-discussed subject!)

 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
22,636
Location
Highlands
Some good points, but I've also replied:

Just another lesson learned here - don't just think "day job" think CAREER.

A basic pay day job can be back-breaking and exhausting. A CAREER can be hard work as well, but offers much better pluses.
In other words, focus on a day-time career and treat the writing as a hobby outside of that.

It's harder to write when facing a financial car crash. Financial stability is easier to maintain with a career.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience!
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
16,979
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
I'm another who uses my career - and it is one - to support writing time. But my writing is also a career and I'm careful to keep progressing down that route. It's now a dual career and I love that. Even if one takes the same number of hours and brings in a quarter of the other. :D
 

allmywires

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2012
Messages
1,672
Location
London
Read this thread earlier and it really spoke to me for some reason. Went through a mini writing crisis the other day (what's new?!) and realised I need to rediscover the joy of it, not keep ploughing through in the hope that I'm going to somehow unearth a bestseller. I'm ok with having my day job (career?) and writing on the side. Just got to stop punishing myself for not writing in my every spare moment.
 

night_wrtr

Non-human Protagonist
Joined
Apr 18, 2017
Messages
382
Location
US
Read this thread earlier and it really spoke to me for some reason. Went through a mini writing crisis the other day (what's new?!) and realised I need to rediscover the joy of it, not keep ploughing through in the hope that I'm going to somehow unearth a bestseller. I'm ok with having my day job (career?) and writing on the side. Just got to stop punishing myself for not writing in my every spare moment.
Agreed. This also makes me really skeptical about paying too much attention to trends and what we think will sell. I'd rather write something that I enjoy, something that doesn't take the fun from creating, then try to move to the next step toward publication if it becomes a possibility. Either way, publishing isn't going to be easy whether you have the best written novel in a decade or not. It faces an uphill battle. So why not enjoy it? Happiness is something to keep a grip on.
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
Supporter
Joined
Oct 5, 2011
Messages
16,979
Location
blah - flags. So many flags.
Agreed. This also makes me really skeptical about paying too much attention to trends and what we think will sell. I'd rather write something that I enjoy, something that doesn't take the fun from creating, then try to move to the next step toward publication if it becomes a possibility. Either way, publishing isn't going to be easy whether you have the best written novel in a decade or not. It faces an uphill battle. So why not enjoy it? Happiness is something to keep a grip on.
I think the time does come when inner happiness is served by earning some money. I have too many plates and can’t set any down until I start earning more...
 

night_wrtr

Non-human Protagonist
Joined
Apr 18, 2017
Messages
382
Location
US
I think the time does come when inner happiness is served by earning some money. I have too many plates and can’t set any down until I start earning more...
It would be nice to make money writing, but it seems to me that writing with the market in mind or what you think will sell doesn't have a higher shot at publication. It may take you down a different path to publication that could be considered a safer bet, but it doesn't increase the odds.

Even if you get published, how well does the novel sell? No guarantee it does, even if it has all the hot trendy bits.

I am someone that does want a career writing stories, but I can either write a story I think people will like, or I can write one that I want to read. Both are on equal footing. Write, query, find an agent, publish, then hope it sells and finds a wide audience. I wouldn't be happy trying to think about what might sell. Its an added worry and pitfall that could derail my progress. If I did, even if I get it published, but it doesn't sell, I'd find myself pretty discouraged. Now, If I wrote what makes me happy, what I enjoy, and it never gets published, am I any worse off? Sure you can say you're published, but if you want a career the story has to sell, and then you have to do the process all over again, and it doesn't seem like it gets easier, even with a foot in the door.

All the authors I read offering advice or their experiences attribute quite a bit to luck. Even great books never make it. It doesn't seem like making money is a guarantee either way.
 

Scookey

Author of the AD2045 sci-fi series
Joined
Dec 14, 2018
Messages
135
Location
UK
I had to give up my normal career to care for the kids, which ironically gives me a (short term) window to write full time. Previously I used 'normal' work to support my writing - except when I was freelancing in advertising or working in-house, at which time that writing paid for my, er, writing ;)
 

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
Supporter
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
4,646
Location
Connecticut, USA
But selling books is only one way to make money from writing
Agreed. Many writers I know here in the US also teach workshops, do school visits (if they write for kids/teens), freelance as an editor on the side based on their credibility as an author, etc. The workshop/school visit thing can be a decent earner, which I imagine is why so many writers (in kid lit, anyway) are willing to put in the time to go to conferences, bookshops, libraries, etc — that stuff doesn't usually pay (maybe a little in sales, but not really that much), but it generates visibility for the stuff that does pay.
 

mistri

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
83
I must admit I do harbor a not-so-secret dream of earning enough from writing not to work. Saying that, in reality I'd be happy with it supplementing my part-time income. Even now I work part-time and vvvv occasionally make a few pounds or dollars from a short story. It's not much at all but really does help my budgeting.

I still have the dream... but I'm realistic about it most of the time.
 

picklematrix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2018
Messages
434
Even if I made a substantial income from writing, (unlikely) I don't think I could justify leaving my job. My household would be a full income down, without any guarantee of increased productivity, as was the case with Abercrombie.
 

sknox

Member and remember
Joined
Mar 25, 2013
Messages
898
Location
Idaho
There's a weird separation here--day job versus writing full time. If you're living off your writing, that *is* a day job. Complete with tracking income, paying taxes, managing budget, and worrying every time you get a pay cut or the income goes flat (guaranteed to happen). That's in addition to learning marketing etc. Even if you get picked up by a publisher, now you get to learn contract law. In no scenario do you "just write."

So the question, when considering quitting the job where the pay is assured, payroll deduction just gets handled, and someone is contributing to your IRA or whatever, ... wait, where was I? Oh yeah. The question is this: do you want the whole job? Not just the writing part, but all of it?

And another thing, just to cheer folks up. We think of the big successes and in our worldly wise minds we figure that ain't likely to be us, however pleasant the dream. Fine. So what is the likely reality? Scraping by. Or, still more disheartening, making it for a while. You quit your job because you're getting good income from your writing. You go along for a few or even several years. Then, there's a slump. Maybe a recovery. Another slump. Or just a slow, steady decline. Even flatlining ain't great because expenses keep going up, don't they? And now you're faced with having to try to get back into the work force (as if writing ain't work!).

As has been said here, writing as a _career_ is the way to look at it, if you're thinking of quitting the day job. Will writing get you all the way into your retirement years? At the very least, it's a decision where you really ought to get solid advice from professionals (financial, legal, and the writing pros).

OTOH, running full-tilt over the cliff is always an option. It's been done.
 

Stephen Palmer

author of novels
Supporter
Joined
Dec 22, 2009
Messages
4,430
Location
Shropshire
Even if I earned enough money to survive on, I'd still want a part-time day job.
Even I could go stir crazy in front of a screen five days a week...
 

Stephen Palmer

author of novels
Supporter
Joined
Dec 22, 2009
Messages
4,430
Location
Shropshire
Agreed. Many writers I know here in the US also teach workshops, do school visits (if they write for kids/teens), freelance as an editor on the side based on their credibility as an author, etc.
My plan is to try this out over the next few years.
I really enjoyed giving my two workshops at the Lincoln Steampunk event last year.
 

Juliana

Juliana Spink Mills. "No capes!"
Supporter
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
4,646
Location
Connecticut, USA
My plan is to try this out over the next few years.
I really enjoyed giving my two workshops at the Lincoln Steampunk event last year.
I'd like to work on some ideas, too. But I feel like I need a little more published work under my belt first...
@Jo Zebedee is doing well with building up a solid list of workshops and courses.
 

Dragonlady

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 4, 2007
Messages
95
It's a big balance for me. I struggle with stress, and finding the time to write is so so hard, but if I could afford to do it full time I would go slowly crazy, I always do when I don't have an externally imposed structure.
 
Top