Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

“Reading and writing are acts of empathy and faith. Guard that trust carefully — in this rapidly changing business, it’s the only sure thing.” ~Erin Keane
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown

"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it."
~Jesse Stuart

"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf

Friday, March 23, 2012

Becoming a Full Time Writer

It's a common dream -- the time and means to be able to write full time. I used to fantasize about it, and then one day it just kind of happened. And I realized I was living my dream.

Of course I do other stuff too-- my husband and I have a little cookie business but that only takes a few hours a week. I maintain my online presence-- again just a few hours a week. Editing for WiDo takes a lot of time, but it's rewarding and stimulating, not exhausting and demanding like a full time, 40 hour a week job would be. Plus it's flexible and can be worked into my schedule. Then there's housework, laundry, bla bla bla I'm even boring myself now....falling asleep....

Still, I am not a full-time writer. Not yet. And it's nobody's fault but my own.

My biggest obstacle comes from within. I have the time, desire and opportunity to write, but I don't put even twenty hours a week into doing it. I spend a lot of time NOT writing and telling myself I SHOULD be. Really, some days I can hardly stand myself for the evilness of  my procrastination habits.

My second obstacle is the lack of social interaction. At a "normal" job, you have coworkers, people to talk to, bounce ideas off, new friends to make, a gossiping buddy to make the time go faster. But the full-time writing job is quiet, oh so quiet. The only other people who get what I do are here on the Internet, blogging about it like I'm doing right now. Sometimes the solitude of the writing gig gets to me and throws me off.

I'd like to claim full-time writer status but I'm still a hobby writer. Unfortunately, that's what I'll remain until I learn how to overcome my two biggest challenges-- Evil Procrastination and Too Much Solitude-- and just put in those hours. My goal is to spend a minimum of twenty hours a week on the actual writing.

Are you a full-time writer? A part-time writer? A hobbyist? A wanna-be? How many hours do you figure you spend writing? And what obstacles stand in your way?


  1. When you blog, you are writing. Even if you aren't writing full-time, you are practicing. I believe in lists. Make a lists of the things you really want to do, then start. Gradually add to the time you spend each day writing. You'll get there. Once you do, you'll realize you have to promote. That's harder for a lot of writers than writing!

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

    Mary Montague Sikes

  2. I can SO relate to this! I work a 20 hour a week job and then do office work for my husband's business - but that isn't that many hours at ALL. And yet, my times dribbles away and I have little to show for it. Supposedly I have Wednesdays set aside for it, but that only works out about twice a month. I regret all the time I wasted in the past when I had LESS obligations, and yet here I am. I would probably count myself somewhere between hobbyist and wanna-be. But I am making steps to move into somewhere between hobbyist and part-time. Blogging helps, I count that as truly writing since I approach it as a column.

    Thanks for this post!

  3. Part time with no desire to go full time. It's a lot of work!
    It sounds like you've found your niche though.

  4. I'm right there with you. Need to stop procrastinating and just do it!

  5. I have no intention of ever going full time. The homestead and the animals make sure of that. :)

    But that's the way I planned it, so I'm okay with it.

  6. I'm more of a hobbyist. Writing is enjoyable, and I love it . . . but if I had to drop it for a while, I wouldn't miss it terribly severely.

  7. I wouldn't mind being a full time writer. Though I say that not knowing the whole impact.

  8. I consider myself a full-time writer. I work at it every day like a job - but it's not tedious like past jobs. After all, this is what I want.

    Oh, don't worry, life creeps in - it always does. My only fear is that I will run out of time before all the stories I have started on paper and in my head come to fruition.

  9. I guess I'm a Saturday writer as the rest of the time, real life takes hold of me and I have to work! LOL!

    But if I won the lottery tomorrow or suddenly had a fairy godmother who granted me riches - I have a bad feeling I'd still not devote more time in serious fiction writing as I am so easily distracted and unfocused! :-)

    Take care

  10. dying to be a full time writer, can't wait not to have to deal with clients, bosses, and getting up way too early. The solitude won't bother me. I like being by myself.

    soon I hope.

  11. I'm not certain there are that many truly full-time writers out there. Especially in the modern Web era. Just too many hats to wear to be able to write all of the time.

  12. Oh you are my twin, procrastination is a killer for me. Anything will distract me. Sometimes I'm almost afraid to totally immerse myself in writing as when I am I get so engrossed I would be at it 24/7 and fall asleep with the keyboard imprinted on my cheek.
    June is my deadline for dropping the day job and swimming out in the Writing Ocean.

  13. I can so relate to this! I spend more time thinking I should be writing then actually writing. It is frustrating!

  14. Glad to know I'm not the only one! This week has been especially bad, getting back from vacation and all...Next week I AM getting back on the writing routine. In fact, I think a rescheduling of my time and calendar is definitely called for.

  15. I know exactly what you mean, Karen. I too no longer have a full time job and somehow the hours just disappear. But blogging is also writing and there are many other things associated with writing which also take the time up. Give yourself a break and go with what you can...

  16. I used to consider myself a full-time writer as I wrote each day, submitted and made it my business. Not so in the last year--life got in the way. I think we can all empathize with you.

  17. I'm so glad you're back on. That was a scare--especially for you I'll bet.

    I write all the time but it's difficult to say that I'm a full-time writer until I start making some money from it.

    I think cookies and publishing is a great combination.

    The Dog Lived (and So Did I)
    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  18. My day job friends think I'm nuts when I tell them my weekend plans; beta reading, critiquing, book reviews, blogfest writing.

    I feel more like a hobby writer because I spend more time doing writerly things than actual writing. I'm with you Karen, I need to procrastinate less and get those ideas out of my head and onto the computer.

    Have a good weekend Karen. I'm glad you blog came back from the nether regions.


  19. Karen, you may be spending too much time beating yourself up. You are what is referred to in Proverbs, a woman of valor. You are very productive and you are doing it all.
    I find that writing first drafts, new and creative fiction, can take no more than two or three hours of my day. After that not only does the rest of life’s demands beckon, but the quality of the writing goes down, way down and all the way down. That’s just the way it is.
    When I have read about writers who spent the equivalent of a full time job time on writing, there was either a full-time helper involved, (yup, a wife would be nice) or the rest of their life was in shambles.
    Chin up. We’re pretty darn amazing.

  20. Mirka, When I read Stephen King's book On Writing I was stunned by the fact that his wife brings him food and leaves it outside his door when he's writing. Although my husband can be pretty supportive, that means he will get his own lunch on occasion if I'm busy writing.

    Donna, Yes I'm thrilled to have my blog back! Apparently there was a lot of "unusual activity" on it and Google shut it down for about 12 hours.

  21. YOUR BLOG IS BACK!! Yippee!!

  22. HI, Karen,

    Some poignant questions. The answers are that easy. I think many of us fall into "hobby" writing mode. But you are different, you are a published author.

    Many of us are still on our way to publication, so we tend to spend much more time writing. But distractions of every kind plague me too.

    Life is ONE BIG DISTRACTION. And, like you, I am a people person. I can write for weeks and hours a day, but I miss interaction.

    When I wrote my to consecutive novels, I was very much the recluse. Last year, I took my life back and my writing habit have changed drastically. Getting healthy was my first priority.

    Thankfully I have attained my goal, now it is time todo the juggling act. I am still trying to figure out the right balance for me.

    I LOVE writing, and at one time I did want to be a full time writer, but I am an artist too and I LOVE to illustrate, so I think, for me, I would like to be a part time writer. Have published books, but not have to crank out ten or twenty a year.

    Ideally, I would like to write and illustrate m/g books. Such fun...

    This post helped to clarify some of my confusion...

    Thanks Karen...

  23. My full time job and my family stand in my way --- but that's okay, because I love them too! :) Hope you reach your goal really soon! :)

  24. I think you have to work up to it. Maybe you can commit to ten hours a week (or whatever is reasonable for you) and add to it from there if that's what you want to do.

  25. I'm a part-time writer. I spend between 15 and 20 hours a week when I'm working on a manuscript. I really could carve out a bit more, but I'm not good with my time. Facebook and blogs, I mean laundry and cleaning really get in the way.

  26. Hi Karen .. you're back. You do so much - and you've written two books or is it three now .. I have your House of Diamonds to read ...

    The Wido and Celery tree would keep anyone preoccupied ...

    I spend so much time alone - but don't worry about - then I'm not writing a book - I'm writing separate articles ...

    You'll get there ... Good luck with it all - cheers Hilary

  27. I could be a full-time writer if I wasn't already a full-time speaker and about three other things!

  28. I don't work outside of the home, but so many other things seem to claim my time. I want to be a full time writer, but right now it is part-time, very part-time some days. I'm a procrastinator and having to be ones own boss don't seem to mix well for me. I'm working at it.
    : )

  29. Yea, you're back! So glad.

    I think we enjoy blogging so much because it's our only contact with co-workers.

    I'm a full-time writer.

    Glad you enjoyed Houston.

  30. NaNoWriMo was what launched me into writing. There's something about the deadline that makes it exciting and very oddly doable - a little like the A to Z challenge! It makes it manageable, I suppose: just write 1700 words a day for 30 days! And the community that springs up around it is huge, and lasts way past the actual month itself -- as evidence by the fact that I'm here now, looking for wise writers to learn from!

    There's also the question of what "full-time" writer means. I think few writers, even the most prolific, are spending literally 40 hours a week writing. (Your goal is 20 hours, right? which is awesome, don't get me wrong!) Part of the creative process involves doing other things so the work has time to come into being in the mind, I think - so doing the dishes, working in the garden, even a day job or staring at the wall can be part of the hours that are spent, in some very real way, in preparing you for the actual work of putting words on paper. I genuinely believe that procrastination is not always evil -- my mother, who is a writer (with, unlike me, hardcover book 'n' stuff, although most of her work is done as an editor!) sent me this enlightening article:

    Of course, solitude's a tough one. But if nothing else, internet friendships are kind of wild and amazing things. On a totally selfish level, for example, I'm glad to be able to be part this conversation!

  31. I am a writer. Now, all I need is to be introduced to the world. That will never come until I manage to finish my ms. Sadly, I am my own biggest obstacle. I have a fantastic cape and red suit with a giant S on it. All the time I spend saving the world (plus all the other stuff: cooking, cleaning, laundry, zzzz), keeps my writing in limbo (sigh).

    I think I need to change my S to a W and save my writing instead of the world.

  32. Wow! Interesting views. I just love writing. I have written many free articles for the past 16 years to and spoke on radio, tv, newspapers and magazines to impart knowledge. I wish I would write always, but I have to meet clients because I am a Financial Planner and I have to go into organizations training staff as Financial Wellness Trainer. Then I am a Pastor as well. Nevertheless, I always create time to write. Thing is, when I think of or read something interesting; I always feel like sharing with other people. This led me to publish my first book on 5 March 2012 - 15 SECRETS FOR PERSONAL FINANCIAL SUCCESS - A Simple Step-by-Step Plan for Financial Freedom.

  33. Writing is my passion. It helps me share knowledge that has helped me in life and that has worked in other people's lives.

  34. Insightful and well written post. I'm so glad I visited your blog today. You've a lot to say...

    If you've the chance, visit my blog. I'm the author of the Bella and Britt series for kids.

    Again, thanks for sharing.