Saturday, 31 May 2014

Reflections on being a full-time writer

photo Jane Ayres

I wrote this last year. 

"I think there are arguments for doing a job in parallel with a writing career.  I've never been a full time writer and don't think I would want to, because I enjoy and am inspired by interactions with people and different experiences.  I've had a full time salaried job for most of my working life and when I did, I fantasised about giving it all up to be a writer.  This made me value my precious writing time and I probably worked harder as a result, because I was striving for success.  I had more self discipline too. When I went part time (first down to 4 days pw, then 3.5, then 3 days) my intention was to spend more time writing.  But weirdly I then found it even harder to write!  It was like the more time I had, the more I seemed to procrastinate.  Duh!  I wouldn't want a full time salaried job again, as I enjoy having more control over how I structure my time.  I envy writers who can be single minded and motivated enough to be a full time writer."

Hmmm.  I was made redundant last summer and became, by default, a full-time writer, which means I also teach writing and do voluntary freelance work for arts projects I am passionate about.  So, 9 months later, how do I feel about the pressure of solely relying on self-employment?  Scary.  Pressured.  I find myself looking for part time salaried work once more (after a panic during financial projections for the next few months).  Between blocks of frenetic writing activity, I lapse into periods of writing inactivity, which makes me feel guilty and useless.  I set myself targets for my next two novellas that I haven't even started yet.  

Struggling to see the wood from the trees right now....


  1. Your comments from last year echo mine right now - I've realised that I actually don't want to be a full time writer, I like my day job too much and the more pressure I put on myself to write, the less writing I achieve.
    On the other side of the coin, even my day job is self-employed - I've been working for myself for fifteen years now and wish I'd done it sooner (I did it as a youngster and got myself into financial deep water, but I've learned so much more about business now).
    Is there some other work you could create for yourself to go alongside your writing?

    1. Hi Deborah - I've always been very averse to risk, which is why I've never voluntarily taken the full time freelance route (although I've worked freelance part time at writing, teaching and consultancy for many years). I don't know what the answer is really - I will have to see what unfolds! I have just applied for a few part time jobs and as my dear late Mum used to say, If it's meant to be.....

  2. Hi Deborah - I've always been averse to risk, which is probably why I never took the leap to go full time freelance (I've been a part time freelance writer, tutor and occasional consultant for many years now). I will just have to see what unfolds....I always admire those who are brave enough to go full time freelance.

  3. Ok, this got posted twice because my computer told me the first attempt had failed! Dontcha love technology :)

    1. Oh yeah - when it works....
      I admit I've always liked to work for myself, even from the early days, but it does need more confidence in the ability to bring money in these days, with more commitments like a mortgage.
      Good luck with the part time positions - I've done that too!