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OPINION: What’s Not To Love About Writing Full-time? Er, Lots Of Things…

OPINION: What’s Not to Love about Writing Full-time? Er, Lots of Things…

Cover of Walden bicentennary edition from Amazon

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, the go-to book on writing in isolation (cover image via Amazon)

If you had the chance to write full-time without any financial pressures, would you – should you – take it?

When one of ALLi’s indie author members was offered the opportunity to live rent-free, with enough savings to cover daily living expenses, he asked fellow members to help him decide.

Given the imminent bicentenary of Walden author Henry David Thoreau, perhaps the most famous memoirist about living in isolation, now seemed a good time to share and extend the conversation on our blog.

I hope it will help you decide whether or nor writing full-time would be right for you, should you ever be in the fortunate position of being able to do so, whether by dint of huge books sales or other means. It may even make you ditch any hitherto held ambition to do nothing but write.

I’m sharing our members’ comments anonymously to preserve confidentiality, but many thanks to all who took part.

If you’d like to join the conversation when you’ve read it, feel free to leave a comment  – or join ALLi so you can share in live chats like this 24/7 – just one of 21 benefits of being a member of ALLi.

Every Indie Author’s Dream?

So, the big question: assuming you’re not already writing full-time and living entirely off the income of your self-published books, would you seize the opportunity to write-full time for a year?

ALLi Author Members Reply

  1. Do it – what an opportunity! If you don’t, you’ll always regret it.
  2. It depends on your discipline as a writer. If you have the determination and focus to make the investment of your time and savings work, it’s a golden opportunity. But if your discipline is shaky, a year rent-free isn’t going to make a difference, and you’ll be worse off than when you started.
  3. Do it, but also keep ten hours of paid work per week to help keep you disciplined and give yourself some pocket money
  4. Do it, but only if you have a precise work schedule with clear goals to work towards – then hold yourself accountable, either by keeping a journal or having an accountability buddy. A year sounds like a long time but you will be surprised how quickly it can disappear as you will always seem to have another day.
  5. Do it, but include time away from the keyboard.
  6. Do it,  and turn the experience into another book, My Year of Writing Rent-Free.
  7. Do it, but keep changing where you work in the house so that you don’t get bored.
  8. Only do it if the location is right – not too isolated from friends and family, in a setting conducive to writing, in a place that will suit your personality and keep you motivated rather than messing with your head.
  9. Proceed with caution – more time doesn’t necessarily equal greater productivity.
  10. Do it – but have an escape plan up your sleeve.

Last Word to the Devil’s Advocate…

Harper Lee did it for To Kill a Mockingbird – and we all know what that did for her productivity after the year was over…

OVER TO YOU What would you do in this position? Do you already write full time so can offer insights from a different perspective? Join the conversation!

#Authors, if you had the chance to write full-time, rent-free, would you take it? Lively discussion here... Click To Tweet
This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. I think about this a lot. I make a living as a full-time writer, but I have to work hard to make a decent income. There’s not a lot of time to coast and sometimes I have to put things off until I’ve saved up enough. On the other hand, I have a friend, who has a six-figure income from his and his wife’s pensions. He now writes, but he can do things at his leisure. He spent a lot of money on a publicist for one of his books and was unconcerned that he didn’t see a positive return on his investment. Threat of starvation or eviction can be a good motivator. It would be nice not to face it constantly. While I wouldn’t want to have to worry about money at all, it would be nice not to have to worry about, say, half of the income I need.

  2. When I first started writing it was catch as catch can in my not-so-copious free time, so the chance to write full-time was wonderful. I loved it and I was really productive. There were a few hitches, but generally, it was great!
    For a pantser, writing full-time enabled me to just run with the story until it was finished.
    However, when life gets in the way (death, illness, or destruction or all of the above) or you hit a dry spell, there’s no escape. And there’s the internal pressure – you’re a writer. Writers have to write, and when you can’t, it can make you crazy(er). *laughing*
    There’s also the income side. More books, steady income. Dry spells can make that a bit…chancy.

  3. I went full time 3 weeks ago. I’ve phased out work over this year. I absolutely agree that full time = less writing if you’re not disciplined! I used to write best when it was in my ‘stolen time’ too away from everything else.

    However, at 27 it is liberating to finally be able to do what I love. I’m determined not to fail (and have to go get a day job again), so that is motivation enough to be productive. I’m still figuring out my routine and how I work best, but I’m making progress.

    I do agree with what’s been said about loneliness. I’m an introvert so my people focused day job was very draining (though I loved the people!). Now there is a different challenge: too much solitude. I’m planning on setting up a local networking/mastermind/support group for creative small businesses if I can’t find one so I can mingle with people like me. 🙂

    1. I’m curious. It’s been two years since this post. I’m a newbie to the field. How are things going for you now? Loneliness, work schedules, still making a living…?

  4. I write full-time. I’m retired with a good income and the money from the books is a nice supplement. Full-time has its pros and cons. The big pro, of course, is that I am living my dream. I love to write!

    But one of the cons I discovered is that it is very isolating. It’s just me and my computer, day in and day out.

    The workplace was one of the main places where I made friends. Now the last of my old pre-retirement friends has moved away and I am struggling to find social outlets that don’t require too much of a time commitment.

  5. I write full time – but am retired and have two pensions so no money worries. I write because I want to – it’s what keeps me sane. I didn’t give up the day job until offered early retirement -couldn’t have done it without financial security.

  6. I agree with 2, 3 although I wouldn’t keep a day job, I would full my non writing time with other deadline dependent activities such as illustration or work shops. I can input stand to write about 4-5 hours a day.

  7. I transferred my business (a writing school and literary agency) to my business parter in 2008 with the intention of writing full time. Turned out, I never wrote less in my life — and not just because I was ill at the time! Procrastination came in the door for the first time. When I thought I had all day to write, day after day went by, with no writing at all done. It took self-publishing and ALLi to get me back into flow. I now know I write most (and I think best) when it is my stolen time, away from the noise of the world. And when I’m finished writing, I love to throw myself back into the fray and catch up with real people.

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Debbie Young

Debbie Young writes warm, funny feel-good fiction, including the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series, which begins with the bestselling "Best Murder in Show". As ALLi's Author Advice Center Manager, she also writes guidebooks for authors. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival, she is a frequent speaker at other literary events. Find out more about Debbie's writing life on her author website www.authordebbieyoung.com.

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