Someone asked me the other day if I had ever considered writing – blogs, articles, whatever – full time. My knee-jerk reaction was to burst out laughing and reply “No, not for me thank you”. That was the end of that particular discussion. Much later though, I did think about it . . . . carefully . . . and I must admit, that although I do love to write, writing full time, meeting daily deadlines, and doing research on stuff that I am perhaps not that interested in, will be the quickest way to put me off writing forever! So my knee-jerk reaction was not so far off the mark after all.
Here’s the thing though – just because writing full time is not for me – doesn’t mean that it can’t be for you. There are probably a few other things that you need to think about before you make that decision though, such as (but not limited to):
Do you really love to write? I mean really, really love it! Is it something that you think about all the time? Do the stories and words just run around in your head and continuously spill out as you frantically try and get them written down? Do they make ‘little tornadoes’ in your mind until you can think of nothing else, but getting them written down, and then as soon as they are written, is your mind instantaneously filled up with the next story or more words? Whenever you go somewhere, as you look around you, are the words describing the experience or what you are looking at, forming in your mind and demanding to be written? If I asked myself these questions and had to reply “no” to any one of them, I would seriously re-think whether I was meant to be writing full time. You have to have the passion, if you don’t, you will just end up hating to write.
Are you leaving your current job? Ok, so this one is a biggie! For me this is a big question – you see, I am passionate about what I do. My business has been going since 2003 and each day puts me that much closer to my goal – the one that the dream was started and built on. My business is how I make my bread and butter and would I be prepared to either “dump” the whole thing or put everything on hold, whilst I write full-time? I think not! Even if I were to decide to go the writing full time route, it would need to start slowly as it is not something that I have been trained to do – better to start off, say blogging part-time, and see how that goes. My advice on this one would be caution – a lot of caution!
Learning and research. Talking about not being trained to write for a living, are you prepared to learn? I know that many people pay “lip service” to the whole idea of “learning new stuff until the day we die”, but the reality is that many folk don’t want to be learning new stuff every day. I know that from my own experience, every time I write a new blog or an article, I have to do some sort of research and in so doing, I learn something new. So, contrary to popular belief, it’s not just about my opinion, it’s also about the facts and to get to the facts, you have to do the research – are you willing to spend that kind of time. If not, then I seriously suggest that you don’t go into writing full time.
Collaboration. Here’s another thing that many people pay “lip service” to. Many ideas are born out of “brainstorming” or people discussing issues or people sharing experiences. Are you one of those kinds of people or is your stuff exactly that – “Your Stuff”? Often writing an article is a very personal or even intimate thing that is torn from you. It can be painful or even embarrassing – would you be able to share then? Perhaps I should also ask – COULD you part with it then? I know from my own experience that there are some stories that I had to write down, that is often how I have dealt with some of the issues from my past, but that doesn’t mean that I am willing to part with them or share them, but what about if you are being paid to write that particular story – how would you feel about parting with it then?
Endurance and patience. Just like any other enterprise, you have to endure and be patient. Chances are that you are not going to be earning huge amounts of money from stuff that you have written, and often five minutes after you have written it and before the ink is properly dry on the page, you’re onto the next story. There’s no time to savor what you have written or feel the glow of pride in what you have written. I have often heard journalists talking about how badly they are paid and how they write for the “love of it”. That writing is not a job, it’s a “calling” or even a “responsibility”. The reality is that like any other job or business endeavor, it takes time. Again from my own experience, I have been writing my blogs now since about 2006 and I am only now starting to reap the rewards. Has it been worth it – absolutely! Without a doubt! But then . . . I do love to write. For me, it is also the love of the ritual, the experience, and how it makes me feel when I take out my trusty Shaeffer fountain pen that was a gift to myself when I bought it in 1977 (and yes I do still write with it every single day). It makes me smile when I think of the, by now millions, of words that we have written together and the journeys we have shared, and I can enjoy and revel in the moment . . . but that is only because I don’t write full time.
Could I do it full time – absolutely not! The question here of course actually isn’t about whether I could write full time or not – the question is, can you?