Thursday, January 29, 2015

Transition from Part-Time Hobby in Writing to Full-Time Career

A writer friend of mine asked me to write a blog post on how to transition his writing from a part-time hobby to a full-time career, and he got me thinking.

How did I do it exactly? And how might my writing journey differ from his?

I went back over some of my previous posts, and found this little trinket:

The post describes my journey from magazine and newspaper writing, to college, to published books; even to starting my own publishing company.

Perhaps it's time for me to fill in the gaps.

When I began writing, it was on a smaller scale, and I was earning a part-time paycheck within various retail establishments. During this time I was also writing for the The Salt Lake Tribune, as a stringer and going to school. Later, I took on an online copy writing job. In-between writing what I wanted to write, I wrote what others wanted me to write, and I think that's important.

Yes, I was finally able to quit my part-time job in sales, and the risk was there, (I was not yet making what I made working even part-time) but I knew it was time to focus on what I loved. AND, and this is an important and, I was not supporting my family; thus the part-time work.

For my friend, he has a different scenario in front of him. He has a wife and child and a mortgage payment. It wouldn't be wise to quit and just jump into a full-time writing career, as I'm sure he knows. But with that said, I still think my path may be of use to him.

1. I worked the writing in slowly. I started working for newspapers, including the college newspaper. Previous to working in the newspaper field, I practiced my craft until I got good enough to publish in a newspaper. Dare I say it? It took me eight years.

Though I started my blog much later, (after I'd published a couple of books) starting a blog early on would be a good transition into journalism. It's always a good idea to learn non-fiction writing because you will need it later when you are marketing your books. :)

Not everyone feels that they can write non-fiction, but I believe they are doing themselves a great disservice if they choose not to learn it. In non-fiction writing, especially in journalism, a writer learns to take himself or herself out of the picture and report the facts at hand. He/she learns how to cut and use only the most necessary words for an article. He/she learns about interviewing others, about meeting deadlines, about clarity in the article and even, accuracy. All of these things have helped me as I've then published my books.

2. As the writer grows in experience, a sloughing off of other jobs naturally results. I remember the day I gave up my online copy writing job because it wasn't meeting my writing needs. What was I writing? Technical stuff about televisions, cameras and such. I didn't love this work, but I liked it enough to do it for a couple of years, until something better came along. Even today, as I look for freelance writing work, I am very careful about what I take on. But I couldn't be this particular in the beginning when I was learning the craft. Some jobs I took on didn't even pay me; some jobs I take on today still don't, but they fit in with my writing needs.

3. Dear friend, there may come a day when you can totally and completely give up your full-time job for a full-time writing career, but it may take some time. To be honest, I don't have one writing friend who works full-time in writing, who has been able to totally drop the full-time job away from it (a part-time job, maybe, but not a full-time job). And maybe that's because I'm not yet friends with Mary Higgins Clark or Richard Paul Evans :)

Having said that, however, I don't want you to give up on your dream. Right now I am making a part-time wage on a full-time writing career, but I don't expect it to last forever. I am continually publishing books, my writing business is growing each year, and I find that the more I focus on what I love and DO IT, the more that God provides for me.

I know He will do the same for you.


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