Career as a Writer

Monday, May 01, 2006

Question:

If I were to say that living as a writer meant everything in the world to me and that I would do it regardless of my financial position or anything else I might have to sacrifice, do you think it is possible to live a life like that and yet still be able to keep yourself alive? The more and more I look at it, the more hopeless it seems.

It might seem foolish for me to say this but I am quite determined to continue perfecting my craft not so I can make money but more so I can just live my life as I want to. . .if you understand what I'm saying.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you think financial sacrifice would be an inevitable goal if someone was to pursue that kind of a lifestyle?


Answer:


Tip-1:

No, it's not impossible, it can be done... Not everyone becomes a rich and famous author, like say, Stephen King, but you can make your own niche and live comfortably.

There are so many available positions in writing that you can take on, it just depends what you're willing to do...

Here's a site for free lance writers:

http://www.freelance-writing.net


Tip-2:

Forgetting the financial sacrifice, but concentrating on actually earning enough from writing to provide 3 meals a day and a roof over your head...

Do you really think that's what you want? Say for instance you get a junior job on a newspaper. When writing becomes not the pure thing you want it to be, but the 9 to 5 grind, day in, day out, necessary to support yourself, will it lose its gloss? Particularly when you find that it leaves you no more time, and possibly less inclination, to write the masterpiece you always wanted to write than a non-writing job that might pay twice as much?


Tip-3:

It's not hopeless, but you have to be not just a writer, but part business man too in order to do it. Assuming that you're talking about novels, screenwriting, freelance journalism etc then you MUST be able to pitch your work to agents and publishers. And you should be able to recognize a good contract from a bad one. And you should also be able to promote yourself, regardless of how much your publisher is putting into it.

In other words, you will have to learn a new set of skills to complement your writing skills. It's not too hard though - if you put the effort into it.

Then, there's the "grunt work" of writing. You could get a job as a writer for a paper, but will trade some freedom for that security - you will have to copy press releases, cover commission meetings, etc. You could become a ghost writer and get a steady flow of jobs, but would have little say in the "big picture" of your writings.

Good luck,


Tip-4:

Whatever work you do, make sure it doesn't suck too much of your energy away from the writing you care about. The higher up I went on the corporate ladder, the less writing I did. Once I became a freelancer, I did more writing, but even that started to dry up once I found myself devoting more and more energy to paying work.

I have a friend who's never had a problem with balancing work and writing. For me it's been a lot more difficult, but I have to find balance somehow if I want to continue to be able to live free and on my own. I have friends and family I love, but I can count on one hand the number of people I'd want to live with.


Tip-5:

If that's the case, consider making your profession from something with short hours and use the extra time to write. You won't depend on your writing to be successful to eat but you will be able to attempt to gradually shift your focus from whatever business you enter to your writing, should it do well.

Or you can find a form of writing you're passionate about and would not mind putting your days into. If you like politics, for example, being a part of a magazine that focuses on politics may not get old, since the news would constantly change.

I considered making writing my career, but I realized I wouldn't be happy doing it. I like it because it allows me to turn my day to day activities and musings into thoughts, but I realized if I sat at home all day on the computer these musings would soon dissipate.

Considering a job that does not rely on writing but requires good writing skills might also be an alternative.

Good luck however you choose to pursue your writing. Just be sure of the risks of ending up as a high school English teacher who hates writing because he deals with so much crap on a daily basis, or something of the sort.

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