Tag Archives: day job

Becoming A Writer: Should You Quit Your Day Job?

by Catherine L. Tully

Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully
Freelance-Zone Editor, Catherine L. Tully

I have been asked this question many, many times and my answer has not changed. Aspiring writers often want to know if they should quit their day job and go full time into freelance writing.

My answer is no. A solid no.

Freelance writing is an extraordinarily difficult career field. It’s tough for even those of us who have been doing it full-time for a long while. And it’s one field that ‘taking the plunge” so to speak, is not advisable.

But let me be more specific…there is a why to this. Here are my top four reasons to transition slowly to the freelance lifestyle…

  • The money is unreliable. You are depending on a variety of clients to pay you, which means that checks may or may not be on time. Or, they may not pay you at all. Do you want to bet your rent (or worse yet, house payment) on that? Once you are more established you’ll get a better feel for how to budget like this–but I’m here to tell you that it isn’t easy. Going from a regular paycheck to this type of income is an adjustment.
  • You need regular clients. Despite the idea of freelancing for all different kinds of publications, a lot of us freelancers have a cache of regular clients that we work for to pay the bills. This takes time to build.
  • Habit changes are hard. Are you used to working for yourself? Do you have the discipline to get up and get to it in the morning…or are you more likely to watch some television? How are you going to do errands like banking and grocery shopping, but still make sure you are on deadline? Give yourself some wiggle room and build toward all of this slowly.
  • Having a savings helps. If you can sock away a few bucks to help get you through the lean times at the beginning of a freelance career (or as an emergency fund for times when a client is late paying), your life will feel a lot better.

For you seasoned freelancers out there–do you have anything to add to this list? Feel free to share!

The Day Job

boatIn late 2011, Abraham Verghese, author of “Cutting for Stone” described his writing life for the Washington Post.

For dedicated writers and those in the publishing business who freelance “part time,” simply because no one will pay us to write full time, there is the need for the dreaded…. “Day Job.”

This quote may help you lose some of the resentment of the day job, as you read how it benefits Verghese’s writing.

“Indeed, when I am asked for writing advice, which is rare, I offer this: Get a good day job, one that you love, preferably one that consumes you and that puts your boat out in the river of life. Then be passionate about it, give it your all, get good at what you do.”

Even though his work and family life left insufficient time to devote to writing, he persisted writing in the time he had available. Perhaps it is his lack of resentment over work as the thief of his writing hours that let him settle down and make the most of his limited time to write.

“Joyce Carol Oates produced two books while I was working on a long chapter. But I am not in a hurry to get the book out, just to get it right — my day job allows that luxury.”

Full Verghese essay here.

BIO: Helen Gallagher joined Freelance-Zone.com to share her thoughts on small business and technology. Her blogs and books are accessible through www.releaseyourwriting.com. She is a member of ASJA, Small Publishers Artists & Writers Network, and several great Chicago-area writing groups.