There are many people who dream of giving up the nine-to-five grind and trying their hands at writing for a living. While it's definitely possible to make a good living as a writer, it is not something that is achieved overnight. Most successful writers started out writing on the side while doing something else to pay the bills. Think you're ready to take the plunge? The following tips can help you decide if now is the right time for you.
- You've had some successes as a writer. Seems obvious, but some people overlook this key point. If you've never written a word or if you haven't sold any of your work yet, it's probably not a good idea to give up your day job. Although many people dream of having a writing career, it's a good idea to hold on to an alternative source of income until you have some writing credits to your name.
You have a several steady clients or a contract. Having regular work or a contract for payment for future work is vital to making a living as a writer. Writing doesn't come with any guarantees. You may find yourself selling a number of articles one month and than none the next. Having a steady source of income such as a client offering regular work or a job writing a weekly newspaper column ensures that you will have some income even when you're having a tough time selling other work.
You have enough money saved to cover several months of living expenses. Again, writing is not usually a sure thing, and it helps to keep some money in reserve in case things get tight. If you don't have any savings, you should probably hang on to a regular paycheck for a little longer.
You are clear about how much you need to make each month, and you've written up a business plan for your writing. It sounds like an adventure - taking the leap from your current career to that of a full-time writer. Keep in mind, however, that you will still need to pay your bills each month. Create a budget for yourself, and be sure to factor in things like health insurance if you don't have a spouse or partner to cover this for you. Once you have an idea of your expenses, it's time to create a business plan to figure out how you are going to be sure you can meet these expenses each month. If you can't come up with a plan to cover all of your expenses, you are probably not ready to leave your day job.
You've done a trial run, and have a clear understanding of what being a writer is really like. Again, giving up the nine-to-five sounds appealing for so many reasons - no boss looking over your shoulder, no coworkers interrupting your work, no more doing things that don't have real meaning for you. The idea of being your own boss, deciding which hours you work, and writing about topics you care about seems like the perfect alternative.
Keep in mind that there are some drawbacks to working as a freelancer. Using some vacation time to get a feel for these drawbacks can be the perfect answer. A week or two can help you get a feel for things like whether or not you'll be able to keep yourself motivated without a boss to answer to. You can decide if the solitude of the writing life is right for you. Your coworkers might not seem so annoying after you've spent a week or two with no one to talk to but the dog. You may have a tough time getting assignments in the field in which you hoped to write in when first starting out. Instead you may find yourself with assignments like writing fifty short articles on the benefits of enemas or tax shelters or another topic you find less than fascinating. Another problem is that since most freelancers work from home, family members and friends don't always respect the work schedules writers make for themselves. They assume that since they're home, they must be available for errands and get-togethers. It's easy for writers to get sidetracked, as well, whether by a favorite soap, the desire to spend more time with friends and family, or a myriad of other things. If after spending several weeks living the life of a freelance writer, you find you're still thinking it's the right thing for you, you may want to think about making the career change.
Freelance writing can be a rewarding career for many people. For others, however, financial constraints, the need for a more structured environment, or the need for more time spent with other people make it something better left as a part-time endeavor or hobby. The decision to leave your day job to pursue a freelance writing career should only be made after careful planning, thinking about all aspects of the job, and a hard look at your financial requirements.